Organizational Rankings: #8

As we finish out the top eight, all of the remaining clubs earn an overall grade of A-, A, or A+. These eight franchises have separated themselves from the rest of the pack – there’s probably a bigger gap between #8 and #9 than between #8 and #4, for instance. If you root for any of the upcoming teams, you should be very pleased. The future looks bright for all the upcoming franchises.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals
#20: Toronto Blue Jays
#19: San Francisco Giants
#18: Minnesota Twins
#17: Chicago White Sox
#16: Baltimore Orioles
#15: Seattle Mariners
#14: Philadelphia Phillies
#13: Los Angeles Dodgers
#12: Texas Rangers
#11: Oakland Athletics
#10: Los Angeles Angels
#9: Arizona Diamondbacks

#8: Atlanta Braves

Ownership: A-

As we’ve mentioned, corporate ownership generally isn’t a great thing for a franchise. However, the Braves have been swapped between media conglomerations and been lucky enough to have both invest in the franchise during their respective periods of control. Liberty Media took control from Time Warner in 2007 and significantly added to the payroll last year, then went on a spending spree this winter. With a major media market and a broad following thanks to their years on TBS, the team has plenty of revenue and should be able to sustain high level payrolls going forward.

Front Office: B+

Over the last 20 years, no one has developed a stronger player development pipeline than the Braves. They’ve mastered the art of drafting local kids, getting them into their system, and turning them into major league regulars. It’s been the foundation of their success, and the system is still in place. That continual stream of young talent has allowed them to compete even while making some questionable decisions at the major league level, and while the Braves still operate with little regard for statistical analysis, they are so good at scouting and development that they can succeed anyway. They’d do well to complement their strengths with some better understanding of major league value, but what they do well dwarfs the things they do poorly. As long as they keep developing a bundle of home grown stars, they’ll be contenders.

Major League Talent: B

Atlanta spent liberally this winter to rebuild their rotation, importing Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, plus bringing back Tom Glavine for added depth. Given the presence of Jair Jurrjens, a rehabbing Tim Hudson, and a young flamethrower like Tommy Hanson, they probably have the deepest starting rotation in baseball. They’re going to have to get quality pitching to make up for some offensive deficiencies, though, as the outfield is weak and the line-up depends heavily on Chipper Jones‘ health. The team is good enough to contend in the NL East this year, but the core going forward is going to need some help. Brian McCann is a great foundation behind the plate and Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson, and Casey Kotchman have their strengths, the team needs a couple of young impact position players to keep winning beyond 2009.

Minor League Talent: A-

As always, the Braves system is stacked with talent. Hanson, as mentioned, is a premier young arm. Jason Heyward is an athletic outfielder who can hit, which is exactly what the Braves could use. Jordan Schafer and Gorkys Hernandez give the team a couple of center field options, Cole Rohrbough and Julio Teheran give the team some pitching depth. Freddie Freeman has solid upside as a power hitting first baseman. There’s just talent up and down the system, and the Braves future looks to be very bright given their up and coming talent.

Overall: A-

The Braves are the example for all franchises in terms of player development. Everyone should be envious of the way they are able to churn out high level talent from their farm system and keep it continually flowing from the low levels to the majors. However, some blind spots in their analytical processes have kept them from duplicating that success at the major league level, and while the 2009 team should be good, it’s unlikely to be great. If they ever integrate some more modern thinking about major league player analysis into their decision making, they could be unbelievably scary. For now, they’re just impressive.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

110 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: #8”

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  1. Wally says:

    We skipped B+?

    -51 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Zack says:

      “These eight franchises have separated themselves from the rest of the pack – there’s probably a bigger gap between #8 and #9 than between #8 and #4, for instance.”

      +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Gabriel says:

    How much better would they be with andrus, salty, feliz and harrison instead of kothcman and the other reliever?

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  3. Chiz says:

    Dave, first time I feel your analysis has been far off the mark.
    The Braves didn’t sign Teixeira, Furcal or Smoltz due to monetary concerns mostly. I know, they thought they were being over compensated, but not if someone else willing to pay the $$. They are worth what somebody is willing to pay and Atlanta didn’t pay. Also, their core young guys are not that good. Escobar, Johnson and Kotchman are not players you can build around. These guys are fill-ins to complement type A players. McCann is the only type A young position player they have on the roster. Also, bad management decisions forced them to go out and get Lowe and Vasquez. This team has no chance against Philly and NY for the next 2 years. They are definitely in a decline. I don’t seem them in the playoffs for the foreseeable future.

    -15 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • MetsFan says:

      Another team singing a player doesn’t indicate that player’s value to the Braves. For instance, in signing Lowe, the Braves will get his full value above a replacement player (whatever AAAA guy would’ve been added to the rotation). Signing Furcal would not be capturing anywhere near his full value since Escobar is not replacement-level. Yes, they could then move Escobar to another team or change his position, but both of those situations probably destroy value. Personally, I am somewhat scared of the Braves and by them making the division more competitive makes it less likely that the wild card will be from the NL East.

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    • Chiz says:

      And another thing, “the deepest starting pitching,” are you for real? If deep equals crappy than you may be on to something. The Red Sox have the highest quality to go with deepest staff in baseball, and it is not really close, as Shrek would say, “Really Really.” Beckett, Dice-K, Lester, Wakefield, Penny, Masterson, Buchholz, and SMOLTZ.

      -20 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • 55 says:

        IIRC the other two AL East powerhouses are projected to do better, but we’ll see. Either way, it’s nowhere near as decided as you seem to believe.

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      • Tyler says:

        I smell a homer. Penny and Smoltz are both coming off injuries and Buchholz has been awful so far in his young career.

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      • sabs says:

        Is this guy serious? You are posting on FanGraphs so I would hope you know that your boy Dice-K was among the luckiest pitchers in baseball last season. Beckett and Lester are very solid, but are you really going to put Wakefield, Masterson, Buchholz, and BRAD FREAKING PENNY up against Vazquez, Jurrjens, and Hanson (I’m not including Kawakami because he is an unknown quantity at this point, even though he projects to be a steady middle-of-the-rotation guy, which is more than I can say for any of the scrubs you listed at the end there)? Gimme a break.

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    • Steven says:

      The M’s were willing to pay $48 million for Carlos Silva. This does not make Carlos Silva worth $48 million.

      +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Andrew says:

      ‘I know, they thought they were being over compensated, but not if someone else willing to pay the $$. They are worth what somebody is willing to pay and Atlanta didn’t pay.”

      How does that make any sense. You just completely talked around the concept of over compensation. In your eyes, whatever the Yanks are willing to pay is what a player is worth? Being the highest bidder isn’t always a good thing. FA contracts are all about value.

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  4. Evan says:

    It’s interesting that two divisions (the AL West and NL West) both missed the top 8 completely. Being in a weak division gives a team a natural advantage in terms of winning the world series (getting to the postseason is easier), and yet this analysis says that two entire divisions have a poor chance of winning the world series in the foreseeable future.

    That must be quite the gap in quality.

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ThundaPC says:

      That’s probably because this ranking isn’t about the mere chance of winning the world series so much as the ability to build and maintain a team that can win World Series championships.

      Makes sense right? If we’re ranking the health of all 30 organizations in baseball should any org get bonus points for being in a division that just happen to have no organization in the top 5? Sure, they can get to the playoffs easier but theoretically they’ll be facing better teams on the way to the World Series. Not to mention division quality won’t stay the same forever. If they can luck their way into a title win that’s great but does that really give an accurate depiction of how well and organization can build and maintain a championship caliber team?

      There have only been three teams who made it to the World Series with under 90 wins in the regular season since the year 2000 (excluding the Rockies miracle run). If organizations can build and maintain a team that can win +90 games they should have a better shot at bringing home championships than teams that either have to sneak in or have to face better teams on the way to the championship.

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      • Omar says:

        If the Giants get in the playoffs I’m pretty sure that they’re pitching will roll most teams, they’re not as good of a team over a whole season as several other teams…but in a short series (which they can get too due to the weak division) I’m not sure there’s many teams that I would like to face less.

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      • pr says:

        You can’t exclude the Rockies WS appearance just because of their unprecedented luck. It still happened and it could for another team, albeit unlikely.

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      • ThundaPC says:

        Again, that’s an example of a team that lucked its way into a World Series. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. The following year, the Rockies regressed back to the similar record they’ve been reaching for the past decade or so and, based on the analysis in this feature, that doesn’t appear to be changing.

        What happened with the Rockies can happen for any team in baseball but you can’t build and maintain luck.

        Oh, and I think I can see the confusion. I didn’t exclude the Rockies because they had less than 90 wins. That team DID get 90 wins. I excluded them because of the way they got those 90 wins. They were 76-72 on September 15th.

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      • Wally says:

        I agree, Rockies are an interesting one.

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    • Omar says:

      I don’t see what’s wrong with Evan’s comment, and I agree with him to an extent.

      -11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Enter Sandman says:

    “…they probably have the deepest starting rotation in baseball.”

    It is my opinion that the Yankees’ rotation has the most quality depth in baseball; however, I am a big fan of the Yankees and thus have no objectivity on this topic. So I would be interested to hear other opinions on the game’s best/deepest rotations and where the Yankees rank on that list.

    NYY vs. ATL

    Sabbathia vs. Lowe
    Wang vs. Vazquez
    Burnett vs. Hudson
    Pettitte vs. Glavine
    Chamberlain vs. Jurrjens
    Hughes vs. Hanson

    Personally, I would favor the Yankees on most of these matchups. Although it did strike me that there is a good deal of similarity with the roles in each rotation (i.e. quality ace, reliable #2, veteran lefties, and talented youngsters for the 5th/6th spots). Again, I would be interested to see how a more partial observer would view this.

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    • q says:

      I’d say the Yankees rotation is better on paper, but I could see injury concerns putting them behind the Diamondbacks.

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    • Sunking1056 says:

      I think the most impressive part of the Braves rotation is the sheer number of potentially quality starters they have:

      Lowe
      Vazquez
      Kawakami
      Jurrjens
      Glavine
      Hanson
      Morton
      Reyes
      Parr
      Campillo

      Are all these guys great? Certainly not. But that’s significant depth (especially considering the reliability of Lowe and Vazquez). I wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable with some of those guys being in the rotation on opening day, but as backups they’re not bad.

      +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        Are any of them great? I wouldn’t call any of them “great” also when you swap the respective rotations with their teams and put the Yankees rotation on the Braves and the Braves rotation on the Yankees I’m sure the Yankees rotation is the clear favorite. Also, it’s not like the Yankees don’t have a fair amount of depth

        Sabathia (monster)
        Wang (broke his foot baserunning, I’d likely put him down for 200 IP this season)
        Burnett (pass, great when healthy)
        Pettitte (threw fewer than 200 innings only three times, one of which was his rookie year, in his 14 year career)
        Chamberlain (innings restrictions, but I like him quite a bit more than I like Glavine)
        Hughes
        Aceves
        Kennedy
        Coke
        Giese

        I’d say the Yankees have respectable depth too. I remember a while back there were arguments being made about how they don’t even need Pettitte before he resigned.

        -24 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tyler says:

        Haha, Burnett gets a pass because he’s “great when healthy”? That doesn’t mean anything when he’s missing starts like he has a tendancy to do.

        You’re absurd.

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      • Omar says:

        He doesn’t get a pass the pass was more of an “okay, yeah he’d kind of a weak link and need for depth”

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    • Aaron/YYZ says:

      You may be discounting the fact that the Braves are likely to be better defensively behind those pitchers by a significant margin.

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        Yes, the Braves may be better at run prevention, but how does that make the pitchers better?

        -28 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Logger says:

        Better defense makes said pitchers appear better.

        +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Walter Jones says:

        Jesus, Omar — have you never read anything on FanGraphs?!?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        Sorry, but I only judge a pitcher based on advanced metrics, I don’t see how a pitcher with Beltre/Tulowitzki/Utley/Pujols behind him is better than one with Ramirez/Guillen/Kent/Giambi behind him. Sure the one with the awesome defense will probably have a lower ERA…but how is that with in his control? I mean, if the guy with a crappy defense has a great GB rate, awesome K rates, good walk rates, and keeps the ball in the park…how the hell is it his fault if his defense gives him zero support? Furthermore, if a there’s a pitcher with lesser peripherals (in this specific example that’s clearly the case) “allows” fewer runs because his defense is great, how is he the better pitcher?

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      • Gina says:

        Yeah I’m not understanding the logic behind better defense means their rotation is deeper. Making it appear better =/= actually being better.

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    • mattymatty says:

      He said “depth” not “quality.”

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Omar says:

      “Although it did strike me that there is a good deal of similarity with the roles in each rotation (i.e. quality ace…”

      Are you saing Sabathia and Lowe are comparable, or am I misreading you?

      -9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        Awesome, I get negative points for asking a poster a question.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Enter Sandman says:

        It may have came off that way, but that wasn’t what I meant. I didn’t really mean that as equating Sabathia to Lowe, Wang to Vazquez, etc., just that the rotations appear to have achieved a similar mixture of quality, durability, health risk, and age risk. Not necessarily that the pitchers filling these roles are of the same ability, but rather present similar levels of risk.

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      • marcello says:

        Regardless of what your teachers might have told you, in real life there are stupid questions.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nathan says:

      What about the Red Sox:
      Beckett
      Lester
      Matsuzaka
      Smoltz
      Penny
      Wakefield
      Masterson
      Buchholtz
      Bowden

      I’d put that up against just about anyone.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Matt says:

        Beckett – Can be injured relatively easily
        Lester- Seems legit, too early to tell really
        Mastuzaka – Very good, but also very, very lucky.
        Smoltz – 40+ years old coming off of a surgery? Good luck
        Penny – No idea what you’re going to get out of him each time he’s out there
        Wakefield – Very reliable, but doesn’t really blow you away
        Masterson- Has done nothing
        Buchholz – Has been awful, as said before
        Bowden – Too young

        It’s an O.K. rotation.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nacho says:

        Matt, its pretty easy to take each individual pitcher and say a simple phrase on their down side.

        Beckett is fragile sure, but he’s also one of the best pitchers in the game when healthy. That ERA of 4 last year was really unlucky.
        Lester has a pretty long track record of success at this point. He might not be as good as he was last year, but he’s certainly above average.
        Matsuzaka was lucky last year, but he is still very good, expect an ERA around 3.5.
        Smoltz might be old, but the man is good. If he can take the mound I don’t see why we can’t expect something similar to last year in terms of a quality.
        Penny’s got some upside.
        Masterson hasn’t done nothing, we have a reasonable idea of how good he is, and he’s pretty decent.

        Beckett, Lester and Matsuzaka give you about as good as a top 3 of any rotation. Then for the last two the Sox have a pretty good mix of high up side (Smoltz, Penny, Buchholz) who just won’t pitch if they don’t hit that upside, and some pretty good replacements (Wakefield, Masterson) that could be roughly league average if needed. I’d take it.

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  6. Brian says:

    Maybe this is heresy to ask, but is Bobby Cox still the guy to lead this team to the promised land? His bullpen use was atrocious last year, and while relievers can make any manager look bad, he used to let guys stay in well after the proverbial ‘my girlfriend, who doesn’t even watch baseball, was wondering why…’ point of no return.

    For a team that lost as many 1 run games as they did last year, you have to assume that in-game strategy, as much as bad luck, cost them games.

    My sense is that the front office will have to hand him a 100 win team (on paper) in order to get the Braves in the playoffs. Although maybe if Bobby senses he has a realistic winner on the field, he’ll bring back his A game.

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike says:

      While your point about the bullpen is true, his hands were mostly tied; the Atlanta starting rotation was atrocious in innings last year due to injuries and ineffectiveness. But Bobby might be on his last legs as a manager. I’m simply hoping that he pulls a JoePa and turns it around for another run or two before retiring.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. James says:

    predicting the top 7:

    Boston
    NYY
    Tampa
    NYM
    Chicago
    Cleveland
    Milwaukee

    -12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Derek says:

      I hope the Yankees aren’t that high. Only an average farm system, ownership that meddles with the team, and aging major league talent.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kevin S. says:

        How much does the new ownership meddle? Hank talks a lot, but other than overpaying A-Rod, I don’t know that the new guys have really done any meddling. Given that their resources are virtually limitless, if the extent of their meddling is overpaying, that’s negligible.

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      • mattymatty says:

        “other than overpaying A-Rod…”

        A $275 Million ten year contract is a whole lot of meddling.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        I meant negligible from the standpoint of hampering them going forward. So what if meddling caused them to overpay? The Yankees have the money, and it’s hardly as though Cashman has been that constrained going forward.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gary says:

      Mets can’t rank that high.
      They have no minor league system at this point, other than F-Mart.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B says:

        Not true. Mets are probably a B- for Farm on this scale, around 18th in the league. At least two more top 100 guys after F-Mart(Flores, Niese).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • James says:

        That’s silly talk. Marte and Flores, while both eons away, have huge cielings. Not much in the way of pitching, admittedly, but still.

        Anyway, we already know they’re in the top 6, is it really ridiculous that they’d be 4 as opposed to 6?

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  8. Dave Cameron says:

    I’ve gone through and deleted a bunch of the non-baseball comments.

    Grow up or go away.

    +40 Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Gina says:

    Is it certain that the braves front office has little regard to statistical analysis? Some of the moves they’ve made seem like they must be considering it somewhat, or at least more than most of the front offices that would be considered to have little regard to numbers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • John C says:

      A quote from the Braves’ Director of Baseball Administration:

      “Just as we surround our organization with the best scouts we want to provide Frank with the best information to supplement the contributions made by those scouts. To that end, we explore any and all statistics that may be relevant to a given player. We are on the cutting edge of newer, advanced stats and have created some of our own statistics and formulas, which obviously we cannot discuss. I think that portraying the Braves as hostile to statistics and sabermetrics couldn’t be further from the truth.”

      +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Marco says:

    “The future looks bright for all the upcoming franchises. ”

    Maybe I’m just a pessimistic Indians fan, but the future doesn’t feel very bright. I think the small market payroll is going to be a gating item for years to come. For example, I feel that the future is generally brighter for the LAAA & the Dodgers.

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  11. Wally says:

    Oh, one more thing, I think the Pirates are too low. Robert Nutting is being underrated and, as usual, Liberty Media is grossly overrated here.

    -16 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gina says:

      I imagine the issue with the Pirates is how much of a mess there is to clean up. They basically seem to have to start from nothing so even if they’re headed in the right direction it’s likely going to take them a long time to get there.

      Also they’re in a city that had a stagnant economy before the huge economic downturn.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Wally says:

      It would appear there are a few “Wallys” running around here.

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    • Wally says:

      For example look at the Sirius XM deal, I just don’t know how unshakeable my trust in Malone is these days. I think if economy and ownership is part of the grade these questions are important but just seem to be being looked over by.

      -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Wally says:

      To follow up on the Pirates comment, which in hindsight might look a little random, I really think that Ogden from my perspective is going to be in really good shape going forward so B minus looks low to me. I don’t think Liberty Media is in awful shape going forward I’m just not convinced they are in A- territory. Also, others have mentioned this ranking makes it difficult to properly talk about the highest rung of front offices and in the same manner I think it confuses things to have Nutting so low, who by most accounts seems to be a very good owner.

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  12. MG says:

    Liberty Media has upped the payroll again. In fact, the Braves actually spent a little more in salary last year than the Phils did but the real issue with the Braves is their fan base. Even with the Phils increased payroll this year, the Braves still don’t compete against the payrolls of the Yanks or the Red Sox.

    Real issue for the Braves is that Atlanta is a terrible professional sports town. Unless a team is generally very good or has a truly dynamic player like Vick or Nique, the casual fans in Atlanta just don’t show up in large numbers.

    Atlanta has basically hovered between 2.3-2.7M fans since 2002 which puts them in the bottom 1/2 or 1/3 of the NL in attendance. This was in spite of some very good teams including teams that won the NL East pennant from 2002-05.

    Frankly I kind of wondered if that is why they made the Lowe signing this year. They had to make a high profile splash to attract casual fan interest after missing out on Texiera. Still, the Lowe signing only really made sense if the Braves’ FO think they can win the NL East this year. Other wise, the Braves are on the hook at $15M per year for a starting pitcher in his late 30s for the next 4 years. Those types of contracts doesn’t usually end well.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jraypritch says:

      First off I am a die hard Braves fan. Second, I agree, Atlanta (and most of the south) is enriched in college football. I don’t have any number to prove it but I bet that the avgerage capacity % favor college football over the Braves, Hawks and Thrasher combined.

      We aren’t going to get the fan base until we start spending money like the big boys and I don’t think that will happen with Liberty.

      Please bring back Ted Turner!

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    • Gina says:

      Even when Vick was in Altanta the falcons couldn’t draw fans. It really is a shame, and a little odd, no one in the actual city of Atlanta cares at all about sports.

      And I agree with your last point this off-season was really odd. You would think that after adding Lowe and Vazquez, and considering how much they offered to Furcal/Burnett, they think they can compete, but then they seem to have no desire to make any moves for outfielders, when one strong outfielder would probably put them over the edge for the division. It really doesn’t make much sense.

      ANd Jraypitch I wouldn’t say Atlanta is enriched in college football, georgia as a state is but not Atlanta. I’ve been to several georgia tech games and the stands are usually empty, like it’s pathetic really. The only time they fill the stadium is when they play Georgia, and that’s because Georgia fans by GA tech season tickets just for that game. Atlanta really just doesn’t care about any sports.

      -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Greg says:

        Actually, when Vick was with the falcons every game sold out for a couple years straight. He was a huge draw for the inner city fans. As for your comment about Atlanta not being interested in college football, well you are way off base. There are probably more Auburn grads and definitely more UGA grads living in Atlanta than Georgia Tech grads.

        Watch out for Jordan Schaeffer, he will be the starting CF very soon. Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman are on the fastrack to Atlanta. They will provide the power that is missing as of now. Tommy Hanson is going to be an ACE.

        +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Steve-O says:

    As far as pitching depth goes I would think the Boston Red Sox need to be included somewhere in the conversation. Granted they have a ton of question marks but with their prospects in waiting they should have more than enough to offset any injuries. Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Bucholz, Smoltz, Penny, Masterson, Bowden and let’s not forget about the minor league’s Tim
    Wakefield…Charlie Zink. That last one was obviously a joke.

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    • Omar says:

      Smoltz won’t be ready until June, were dealing with 3/4ths of Penny’s Arm, Masterson gets buttfucked but LHH, and Beckett’s only pitched 200 innings once in his career where the season wasn’t a total disaster. Furthermore, Lester’s huge inning jump from 2007-2008 is worrisome for fans. That being said, a Lester/Beckett/Buchholz top three has the potential to be very very good, and sure Matsuzaka is overrated, but he’s still a quality pitcher and most teams would love him to be their number four.

      -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nathan says:

      I rattled off that same list but just remember Tazawa as well.

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  14. CH says:

    Do the Marlins move up on your list now that they’ve officially conned their way into a publicly funded ballpark?

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  15. MG says:

    Front of the Braves’ rotation is pretty solid but their starting pitching depth is vastly overrated on here. Yeah they have more options than most teams but it doesn’t necessary mean they are great options either.

    Kawakami has had shoulder issues all spring which raises some red flags. Glavine was done at the end of the ’07 season. Hudson is out until at least August and likely won’t contribute much/if anything this year. Jo-Jo Reyes stinks. Campillo is a tolerable swing man but not a quality starter. Parr and Carlyle are long-relief/back-end bullpen types at best.

    If Kawakami is able to get healthy and Hanson pitches well, then they have the makings of one of the best rotations in the NL but the Braves’ seasons really comes down to their bullpen rebounding in a big way and finding enough power from Jones, Franceour, and McCann to score enough runs to win some of those low-scoring games.

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  16. bablue says:

    I have to disagree with the Braves ranking as well. I don’t think they should be this high.

    The ownership grades are topping out too easily. By that I mean that you’ve left Byourself no room to show improvement on the braves grade. What grade should the Red Sox ownership get, when they can spend 50M more per season than the Braves? Or the Cubs? Even the Dodgers have spent at least on par if not higher than what the Braves have spent if not more the last several years and they got a whole letter grade lower. Obvious;y, mettling with the Front Office has to factor into the equation but I think that part is overblow. The Braves have an above average ownership situation but its not top 5 or anything, they’re not big spenders anymore.

    The major league team is fairly good, but probably not even a 90 win team. The only young building blocks are McCann and Jurrjens, unless Franceour breaks out. The outfield is really bad. The pitching is either old or not very good except for the aforementioned Jurrjens. Just nothing special here really. I’d easily take a team like the Diamondbacks roster over the Braves, and they both have the same ranking. If the Braves had the D-Backs roster with their own minor league system, then they’d be a force for years to come.

    I do agree with the front office and minor league grades, they’re both bright spots. Although the first Teixeira trade was scary bad, they have made some good moves for Jurrjens, Hudson, Soriano, and Renteria. I think they know when to let guys go but to often they make short term moves more marginal relievers. See the Kolb, Wickman, Baez, Dotel, and maybe even Mike Gonzalez trades.

    Overall, nice organization, but without a great payroll, front office (minus scouting), or young major league nucleus, I would have ranked them in the 13-15 range. Just my opinion.

    -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Wally says:

      Exactly, Liberty Media is being overrated by Dave.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • James says:

      “What grade should the Red Sox ownership get, when they can spend 50M more per season than the Braves? Or the Cubs? Even the Dodgers have spent at least on par if not higher than what the Braves have spent if not more the last several years and they got a whole letter grade lower.”

      So you think what a team does spend is exactly what they are “able” to spend? Clearly, at least by this list’s criteria, those other ownerships you mention get credit for spenidng more.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Benne says:

    Sine everyone else is doing it, here’s my prediction for the top 7:

    7. Mets
    6. Brewers
    5. Cubs
    4. Indians
    3. Yankees
    2. Rays
    1. Red Sox

    -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Nacho says:

    People are over all are very negative toward this entire thread. The total voting is in this thread is -41 at the moment of my count. Considering the large positive rating of Dave’s post, which was irrelevant to the discussion at hand, and negative ratings of anyone that disagrees, it would appear any criticism of Dave is not well received. This even extends to posts that are well presented rational arguments, as well. Interesting…..

    -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bablue says:

      Seriously. It’d be nice to get some responses instead of just negative votes when you disagree with Dave.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • John C. says:

      Well, here’s the tally as of about twenty minutes ago:

      Wally: -57
      Omar: -82
      Everybody else: +64

      Take away Omar and Wally and we’re actually in pretty good shape, which I have a feeling holds true across most threads.

      +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nacho says:

        Well Dave himself if +27 of that “everybody else.” And I see no particular reason to exclude the two people that disagree with Dave the most. For the most part Wally (there appears to be at least two Wally’s out there, one responds in one liners, the other makes long arguments, and the tone of each is also completely different) and Omar’s posts are reasonable.

        -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dave Cameron says:

        Just so everyone knows, “Nacho” = Wally. Apparently, he doesn’t realize that we can see IP addresses.

        +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nathan says:

        Busted!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nacho says:

        Dave, I haven’t been changing my email address…..

        If you haven’t noticed, sense you can see IP addresses and everything, another person is posting as Wally now. I considered saying I was the original “Wally” for the ~Mariners thread in my last post, but figured it wasn’t worth it. Either people wouldn’t believe me, or wouldn’t care….

        Though I love it how you care! I’m so flattered, hehehe.

        Oh stop, now you’re making me blush.

        -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        Sorry to interrupt the circle jerk.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        For the record, I don’t necessarily “disagree with Dave” as much as you think, I may disagree with his ordering, but the actual content of the article is pretty solid. I’m still pissed about two Bs and two Cs being a B, :)

        -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Omar says:

    I totally feel that a B+ is underrating the FO, there is no FO that would rather not trade with than The Braves…they always find a way to win all of their trades. I know that Schuerholz has taken a diminished role, but he’s still helping make decisions. They got a good haul for a two month rental of Teixeira, and they seem to be still making all the right moves, I’d say an A- is intact.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • B says:

      I actually would give them lower than a B+. If they still had Schuerholz, I’d say A, but Wren has a lot to prove. He hasn’t be great so far. And I wouldn’t say they got a lot for Teixera.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bablue says:

      They got destroyed on the first Teixeira trade andI don’t think either Kotchman or Marek is very good. They also “lost” the J.D. Drew, Kotsay, Hampton, Wickman, Dotel, Danys Baez, and Mike Gonzalez trades in recent years if you ask me. They certainly don’t “win” every trade.

      They’re also a rebuilding team that gave up a 1st round pick for Tom Glavine last year and a 2nd for Lowe this year. They dealt away further prospects for an aging Javier Vasquez. Also, I question their handling of the Franceour and Furcal situations last year. They have their strong points, but I wouldn’t give them an A.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Wally says:

    Also, I feel bad mentioning this again, but I’m still just not sure 2 A-’s, a B+ and a B can average out to an A- (and that’s even without bring up Liberty Media again.) I think Dave is a great read but in terms of more analytical work I just think it’s hard to see the Braves as higher than a B+.

    -20 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Teej says:

      OK, let’s pretend for a minute that Dave hadn’t said 500 times that it’s not an average and that he’s doing his final grade purely on a GPA scale.

      (3.67+3.67+3.33+3)/4 = 3.42. That’s higher than a B+.

      So even if we pretend that your idea of how the final grade should be determined is the only correct way to give an overall grade, the final grade would still be between a B+ and an A-. Round up because the stadium has awesome hot dogs. Or because you really like the city of Atlanta. Whatever. This is an extremely trivial exercise.

      +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Wally says:

        Okay, but I think what I’m trying to say is that the A-’s are already on the low side (remember the Marlins got a B+ on farm and I think a lot of us have rightly questioned how high of an A- the ownership group is.) Let’s say that out of 100 percentage points they are a miniscule slippage from dropping to a B plus–and I really think this is not a big stretch to suppose that this was Dave’s intention–and so I’m just trying to point out a possible mistake he made.

        -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        I guess Wally and I have higher standards than most. ;) But seriously, the letter grades are more of a rough estimation. I mean, if you think that, for example, say the Marlins got a B for major league talent (fuck you if you think I’m looking up the actual grade) and the Diamondbacks got an A- (read the above comment) and disagree with the discrepancy then yeah, by all means…bitch it up

        -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Wally says:

        Dave has been frank with us that he is very busy right now, I don’t know, perhaps this mark is just too high? I’d like to reiterate that I am really enjoying Dave as a writer, I just am a little uncertain about the Braves being one of the “eight franchises [that] have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.” My perspective is that their two highest marks front office and scouting are on the low end of the A minus spectrum, but I’d be curious what other people think. I mean, certainly I only know so much about baseball and welcome new perspectives and ideas.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • big says:

      I really don’t understand why people have been having a hard time with understanding the grading system. It seems pretty damned obvious that each category wouldn’t weighted the same. And I’ve only read a few of these… in every comment section the same question has come up. Its pretty annoying.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Conballs says:

    Two things:

    1) I don’t even read this thing everyday and I know that Dave has not just been adding up the letter grades. You have to read the insight and analysis to understand the scoring.

    2) I’m having a hard time continuing with this as now the Mets are being viewed as a top 7 organization going forward. There’s just no way in my eyes. The ownership is solid b/c they spend money, but I can’t remember the last time they had a GM worth his salt. They have good major league talent and a decent minor league system, but they just don’t have a winning methodology in Queens. I’m sorry, I can’t buy they’re even in the top half, but I’m anxious to read the justifications before I’m too hasty.

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gina says:

      I’m a mets fan and I agree. The money is there but unlike the Yankees we don’t exactly have unlimited resources, the Wilpons aren’t exactly known for being loose with their purse strings. We have Wright, Reyes, Beltran and Santana but the latter two are nearing the downturns of their careers and unless marquee free agents start hitting the open market, and the front office shows the willingness to sign them, we have no replacements for them. We don’t even seem to have any plan to replace Delgado’s bat after this season.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Eric says:

        Clearly the ‘major league talent’ section of this has the most weight, and you can make a legitimate argument that the Mets have the top player in MLB at 4 positions (I don’t think you’d win that argument, but you won’t get laughed at; Wright is at least top-2 with ARod, Reyes is at worst top 3 with Hanley and Rollins, and Beltran and Johan are probably #1 at least for the next year or two).

        The minor league system is mediocre but not terrible, the ownership up until this year would probably have been an A (built a gorgeous new stadium with a decent amount of taxpayer-raping, but not as much as some other teams, have maintained huge payrolls; we’ll have to see going forward how much the Madoff thing really hurt the Wilpons), and the current FO really hasn’t made any atrocious decisions (with the Castillo deal being really the only terrible one I can think of off the top of my head, and getting Maine for almost nothing was a phenomenal deal)

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Gina says:

        I’d say the front office has made some pretty terrible decisions. Like the fact that, based on reports, Omar preferred paying Perez 12 million to paying Lowe 15 million. And then a lot of small deals that by themselves aren’t terrible but all together start to add to a pretty meh track record.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Gina says:

        Also I don’t necessarily think the front office is terrible or anything. But I don’t think they do anything particularly well, like scout for instances, and I think for a front office that seems to have a low regard for statistical analysis, and owners that aren’t going to be giving blank checks, that’s a major problem.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Eric says:

        I don’t totally disagree with the Perez/Lowe thing, though it’s also an extra year in addition to the 3mil/year, making it $24 million less of a commitment (and I thought Lowe at 4/60 was a massive overpay by the Braves, so I’m not horribly saddened by the choice they made)

        But I do agree with your point – if the purse strings tighten, it’s yet to be seen whether the Mets FO has the scouting/stats people to make good decisions, and I’m not completely confident I’m going to like the answer to that question

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Brian says:

      Agree 100% with #2. I assume I’ll disagree strongly with some of the justifications Dave offers, but I’ll wait until it drops to talk about it.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. Dustin says:

    Wow, I kinda think this ranking could be seen as conservative. The Braves have continually put winning teams out in the field over the last 15 years, this doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. The Braves have great ownership and a front office that knows what it is doing.

    Good write.

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Wally says:

      Although, I think Dave isn’t paying attention to team success the past 15 years, rather this is about the future.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Dustin says:

    I realize that, but, to me, the fact that not much has changed over the past 15 years. They’ve added payroll and have continued to scout, draft, and develop talent. This, to me, is still a sign of their future..

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Wally says:

      Actually, I think some of us would dispute the direction the front office is going and how well they have used their payroll. Clearly a good team but to me this ranking seems high.

      -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. alvinmcmath says:

    dave- thank you; insightfull analysis, and you admitted your bias’s (sp?)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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