The grand Braves plan has yet to reveal itself

"Our plan is to sign every 31-year-old we can find." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

“Our plan is to sign every 31-year-old we can find.” (Curtis Compton/AJC)

"Our plan is to sign every 31-year-old we can find." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

“Our plan is to sign every 31-year-old we can find.” (Curtis Compton/AJC)

More good news: The Atlanta Braves just paid $3 million for a second baseman who had a lower WAR (wins above replacement) rating than B.J. Upton. Per Baseball Reference, Bossman Jr.’s WAR rating for 2014 was minus-0.3. Alberto Callaspo’s was minus-1.0.

OK, so this is apples and oranges. (Or apples and Alberto.) B.J. Upton has offered next to nothing for a lot of money. Callaspo will be making $3 million to provide cover at second base, where if memory serves the Braves just paid a lot of money to make the incumbent go away. (What was his name again? Started with a “U”.)

I guess the Braves’ reasoning is that Jose Peraza mightn’t be ready and that Phil Gosselin isn’t really a full-time player — Tommy La Stella has already been shipped to the Cubs for the reliever Arodys Vizcaino, whom the Braves once traded to Chicago for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson — and that Callaspo provides cover at second base. (And perhaps cover at third base, should the Braves find someone willing to take Chris Johnson off their hands.)

But let’s be clear: Even though he’s a switch-hitter, Callaspo was one of the A’s many platoon players last season — Oakland leads the world in platoons — and not a very good one. Playing three infield positions and DH’ing, he hit .223 with an on-base percentage of .290. (Back to B.J.: He hit .208 with an OBP of .287.) Callaspo doesn’t strike out much — 50 times in 451 plate appearances — but has little power. He hit four home runs with a slugging percentage of .290.

Since terminating Frank Wren, the Braves have traded away Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden for two promising young pitchers; landed the 31-year-old Nick Markakis (6.0 WAR over the past four seasons) for $45 million over four years to play right field; signed the 31-year-old reliever Jim Johnson, who was such a dud the A’s cut him in midseason last year, and paid $3 million to the 31-year-old Callaspo, who’s the essence of a journeyman. The only one of those moves I’ve even slightly liked was the acquisition of Johnson, a big-time closer not so long ago who might profit from working with Roger McDowell.

I’m willing to give the new regime the benefit of the doubt. Maybe there’s a grand design in place, even if we can’t see it yet. But I’d be lying if I said this first flurry of activity hasn’t made me wonder.

Reader Comments 0

79 comments
DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

This article is spot on though too much attention paid to the useless concept of WAR


I do think we got a decent return for Heyward (hated to see him go) but the rest of the moves not so great. 


The Callypso sign is a joke he is not very good why not give Gosselin a chance


Agree with the poster that the Hawks are our best franchise in the ATL now.  Fun bunch to watch and that weasel Bruce Levinson will go away that that will help

GSU93
GSU93

This is like the "Who's on first" skit...

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

What was an exciting young team that made the playoffs 2 years ago is now a team in transition with a manager that doesn't inspire anyone.

I feel sorry for Freddie Freeman.  He will be itching to get out of this mess ASAP.

displayname101
displayname101

Yes, Callaspo to B.J. is apples to oranges.  Different positions.  Far different salaries.  Braves stuck with Callaspo's money for one year.  Biggest number is Callaspo strikes out about one-quarter as often.  And he's not a polarizing little twerp.  It all adds up to Callaspo being a far superior signing to B.J.  And please stop with the acronym crap.  Acronym baseball analysis says Smoltz is not a first ballot Hall of Famer, which is enough proof that the acronym stuff is nonsense.


I hate to lose Heyward, but the Braves owners were not going to pay him.  Better to get something than to get nothing.  Markakis is basically the same player but 6 years older.  Better contact hitter than Jason, less speed.  Both gold glovers.  Cheaper in the long run than Jason.


If Atlanta was not a one newspaper town, we would hear more about Liberty Media.  (How many Braves fans even know they are the Braves' owners?)  While Arthur Blank may show his face on the Falcons' sideline more than we'd like, Liberty Media doesn't even have a face, couldn't care less about wins and losses, and receives virtually no criticism.

HoosierAaron
HoosierAaron

Well, going into the Winter Meetings I had hoped that our Front Office "Triangle of Power" would give us reasons to believe we would be a better team in '17 if not '15 & '16....so far it's a Swing and a Miss.


I hope Mr. Hart doesn't continue to over-value J-Up and Gattis to the point we have basically the same team and same manager as last year....... unless Kevin Seitzer is a tremendous hitting coach.


We are offering a nice power hitter with one year remaining on his contract and a potentially nice power hitter (if he can stay healthy) with limited defensive abilities.....not Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews.


Based on what we've seen....teams appear to be in the dealing mood and we're standing on the sideline watching. Get in the game Mr. Hart.


stogiefogey
stogiefogey

Apparently "hope" is the centerpiece of the master plan. As in hoping the outfielder to whom you just gave a four-year deal, knowing (or so you claim) that he's about to undergo potentially career ending herniated disk surgery, will be able to play come spring training.  

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

Our outfield now has four starters in Markakis, Gattis and the Uptons. I don't see them keeping Gattis to catch and I don't see them keeping him on the bench. Either Gattis or Justin will be traded as no one will take BJ. So, either Hart will get a ton for Gattis or he will get it for Justin. It's the way the off season works.


As for Callaspo, I liked his stats before last year. This deal was characterized as one that would let him show he can get back to that form, and if he does, he is a good pickup. Hart is in a position where he has to take those kinds of chances as Wren has emptied the cupboard. With multi-yea agreements at the 1st, SS, and 3rd, we now know the front line infield if all stay healthy.


I like to see the ball in play and found the strikeout laden games of 2014 boring. Put the ball in play, get on base and make things move. This lineup has potential but it also has BJ and a $12 million hole for Uggla.


The moves Hart made for the pen also make sense. What I expect next is Justin to be traded for a starter, maybe a the signing of a free agent journeyman starter, and getting someone to be the second string catcher.


Hart is dealing with the reality of how the Braves have been operated by Wren for the past few years. He is also working within a budget, and it will include a $15 million hole in CF for the next three years. He is also forced to pay something like $12 million to Uggla for 2015. That's a lot of rope to tie around a guy and then expect him to compete.


Before anyone says anything about absentee ownership. I don't buy it. I grew up in LA and watch the O'Malleys run the team by being fans and letting the professionals they hired make the decisions. Hart is the Braves' professional baseball man in charge. He has a budget. I would trust him to know more about what he is doing and what can be done than some mogul used car salesman who doesn't have the smarts to keep his hands off the team.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Didn't they sign a Cuban outfielder?


The moves are not done, give Hart time to drive for the best deals possible.  This team needs to improve not only via trades but the players already on the roster need to step it up. Last year was just garbage, watching Simmons pinwheel, BJ flail away, Justin face-plant in late August through September, double-play machine CJ with help from others, Uggla early on.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

I have to agree baghead, what are you a hater now Bradley? Where was all of this last year when Wren was dismantling this franchise?!  Jeez, Hart is breath of fresh air an NO love for the promising young starter from St Louis we STOLE for an expiring contract we werent going to resign...


Give the man some time fool, the winter meetings just started!  This town needs another newspaper!!!!!! 

Baghead
Baghead

I think you have to be hands down the biggest joke of a sports writer in the country.  You take stats from less than one full season and bash the team investment.  Have you seen Callaspo's career figures in comparison to BJ?  That's about 100 pts on obp.  By the way, we paid $3MM NOT $11MM for a garbage CF.  Where do you get off sitting on the sidelines for 5 years not making a peep against Wren as he completely dismantled and backed this organization into a corner so tight, Hart is having trouble spending money on utility players like Callaspo.  You're a pathetic writer and a disgrace to this city.  It's people like you that breed mediocrity around here.

Wilbo
Wilbo

I don't think there is a plan.


I think the 2 decrepit fools, Booby Cox and the Preening Little General, have refused to let the New Guy forge a plan and proceed w it.

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

I find the discussions involving Chris Johnson interesting. Could it be because of a Wren contract or because of his anger issues OR...get his contract off the books and we're close enough to cut BJ?

hardworkinman
hardworkinman

I don't understand why anyone would complain about what Hart is doing. He was handed a mess of a team and a depleted budget with BJ and Uggla's money. Give the guy a chance.


Four pitchers, a right fielder, and a second baseman have been added. All are upgrades in my opinion. Who was going to play second base anyway? No one on the roster was a better option than Callaspo. 

Get another quality starter and an outfielder that can catch the ball and hit line drives and this team will be better than last season. Those two things should be coming once J Upton is traded.

Curious_George
Curious_George

Didn't the Braves reveal "The Grand Plan" of their McDONALD'S-esque ballpark campus earlier today?



GloryBetweenTheHedges
GloryBetweenTheHedges

At least now we will lose because of the lack of talent. I can live with that over the underachieving although it is still not acceptable in any way. Attendance will plummet this season with the fans already knowing that we are not trying to win anything. Maybe we will be so bad that we will have no choice to but to fire Fredi. The Atlanta Hawks are our best franchise in Atlanta. Let's get behind these guys. They are a fun bunch to watch and have a great coach.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Yes, Mr Negative is back to preach to the masses about the Legacy. This has been such a delicious year between the twin dumpster fires at Flowery Branch and Hank Aaron Drive. "Wrenitroff" has made my grilling out in the parking lot extra special this year. Pumping up the Huey Lewis and the News for the "Back to the 80's" theme these days. HAAAAAHAAA

Chop_Chop
Chop_Chop

I don't get it, either. New stadiums (with few exceptions) draw bigger crowds. Why send signals to the fanbase that you are more concerned about what happens in a few seasons, especially when the current team is already competitive? I know that Braves fans don't believe this crop of players can win much of anything, but is the payroll really going to skyrocket in a new park? Will players drafted next year really be stars in 2017? Quite a strange state of affairs in the Braves organization right now.

RaiderBall
RaiderBall

If we are going to rebuild for the new stadium, sell everyone off but Freeman, Simmons and Teheran.  Everybody else has got to go to get decent prospects and live with losing but building till then.

58Supersports
58Supersports

The Grand plan was revealed when Bobby Cox said they would keep the inept manager Fredi G.....that plan is to keep losing. One dumb a#* move.

The ajc reporters really loved J-Hey... they've been crying ever since.

They also love Fredi G and were so happy when BC saved his a*#.... What a joke. I don't agree with buying cheap all the time, I know they have a budget but they also have money that they could get from Liberty but don't want to upset anyone at Liberty for fear of their jobs. McQ could get budget raised. Two of the three in pictures needs to retire to animal farm and Hart  is not one of them.

seminoleking
seminoleking

lmao................braves aint got no plan other than to change the LOOK of the team.........

RonRoberts
RonRoberts

I don't think even the Braves know what the "grand scheme" is yet; they're waiting for things to happen for 'em between now and opening day to dictate which direction they're better OFF going.  


If they get WOWED with an Upton/Gattis or Upton or Gattis trade, they'll snap it up and plan for 2017.  If they don't, they'll hang with 'em til they either DO get wowed or the team contends with 'em.  They're one starter and a better 2B option away from being nearly the same kind of competitive team that won the division two season ago. 

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

The Grand plan seems simple to me: Have all the pieces in place by the time the new Stadium is ready. They just changed out a lot of key Scouts out . A Championship team can not be built in one year. If Freddie doesn't improve the next two years he will be gone . The main focus is to build the team around a Great Pitching staff. It will take time since Atlanta doesn't have an open checkbook. Justin and Gattis will be traded before Spring Training.

Sidslid
Sidslid

Smells like a Justin Upton trade in the making.

jdcigar
jdcigar

I happen to think that their plan is starting to reveal itself and will continue with the next few moves.  They are clearly trying to get away from the high strikeout occasional power hitters and move towards contact hitters with higher OBP.  They are trying to balance building for the future with being competitive this year.  Gallaspo is not a long term fix but he can help until the 2b prospect is ready.

lovesthegame
lovesthegame

Well Mr. negativity is back.  Yes, when you selectively take Callaspo's worst year (which was last year) and don't look back to 6 plus years it does look weak.  Some players do not play as well in a platoon situation versus as an everyday player.  However, when he played full-time with KC in hit .300 and his 9-year MLB career BA is .267 with an OBP of .330.  Which are higher than all Braves other than Freeman and JUpton.  He did platoon a lot with the A's but he has played full seasons with the Angels and the Royals bating .around .290.  Based on his MLB average playing a full season he would be our third highest RBI producer and would strike out only 50 times (his offensive stats compare favorably with Heyward's).  Lastly, he is from Venezuela, as were Prado and Infante, and will play this game with a passion we have not seen for a long while.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Here's the grand plan....dupe the fans into thinking they are actually interested in winning to prompt ticket sales. 

The Boobs are probably staying at the Motel 6 and taking the city bus to the Winter Meetings per Liberty Medias orders.

They are like a homeless person wondering around looking for table scraps, holding a sign that says "will work for food and .220 hitters" 

KatieR620
KatieR620

I just don't understand spending 3 million for a guy who can't hit at all and shouldn't be on the team after 2 months.

Jetiredo
Jetiredo

Unfortunately this organization and the local media still rests on their laurels from 20 years ago and doesnt hold anyone responsible. Go after Schurholtz  hes the one that ok'ed the bad TV deal hes the one that signed off on Frank Wren and Fredi Gonzalez he the one that made that Tiexeria deal yet no one is calling for his job.

CoachRealTalk
CoachRealTalk

and of course Mark, if you don't agree with it then it must be a bad move...as a baseball guy I agree with moves and totally understand what the club is trying to do and I figure there will be much more to come...I am amazed how so many people act as if Jason being traded was such a terrible move when his numbers weren't too much better or different than what BJ produced in Tampa and everyone knows how that turned out.....I wish J-Hey well because he's a great guy but his numbers are mediocre at best other than his fielding and he stays hurt ALL the time, so it was a good spot to get quality for him and that they did with the two pitchers they received for him.....I do agree with one statement Mark and that is we should take a wait and see because until the product is finished we truly do not know or if we did the Dodgers would have already won back to back world series according to the "Experts"

BravesPennant2017
BravesPennant2017

The Braves grand plan seems pretty simple. Build a young talent rich pitching staff with the idea that they could break out next year but likely be ready to be dominant come 2017. Find competent players for the offense to try to outlast the BJ contract (or maybe he will be decent this year, hahaha jk). Callaspo is mediocre at best but if he can be less fat then maybe he can return to his numbers from the previous years. Keep Gattis in LF for the time being (flip JUp for another young SP and maybe an OF prospect). The Braves would be somewhere between a 75-85 winning game team with some upside.

Opening Day Lineup: Markakis, Callaspo, Freeman, Gattis, Johnson, Beth, BJ, Simba (pretty awful)

2017 Lineup: Peraza, Markakis, Freeman, Gattis, FA CF, Simba, FA 3B, Beth (Much better)

Cousingeorgestone
Cousingeorgestone

He will be judged on whether or not he can convince someone to give him anybody for Big Joke Upton.  If he is still the starting CF come April, this team will continue to be unwatchable, attendance will plummet and the fan base will even further alienated (if possible) than it can be at the moment.

redleg24
redleg24

Looks like one of those Marlin sell offs, without just doing it up front.  A sneaky way of getting rid of some unwanted players and the fans not knowing it until after the fact. Over all it does not look like the Braves had any idea of what they were doing in the draft--kind of like the Falcons.   Old computer logic-"garbage in garbage out".  So sorry to see such a previously great franchise fall apart at the seams.  It will be a long time until they are ready to compete with the big boy-better stay on the porch guys.


PS-looks like Shurholtz knew when to get out.

Sagacious
Sagacious

I trust Hart and what he is doing.  This guy knows his stuff.  Let's see how it works out before judging.


BusinessMan
BusinessMan

The plan is to emulate the great Braves teams of the late 1980"s. They are going to break out the new "Wait til next year" slogan in spring training.

HarMul
HarMul

Mark Bradley at his best again. 

1 year sample size and WAR as his reference for comparison. I wonder what they pay you to report for AJC since it is all waste. 

Please write articles where you do some work and look back at all data available before making conclusions. It is embarrassing that someone at your level is incapable of doing enough research to show both sides of the story. Also, are you even at the winter meetings in order to write about the grand plan or was this great piece of work written at a desk???

SeanLB
SeanLB

@stogiefogey This is Atlanta, man.  They serve up the Kool-Aid and the fans down it like water.  Mmm...tasty.  What's that?  Of course Matt Diaz is the missing piece.  Rinse and repeat.  

Wilbo
Wilbo

@Baghead You spit out a moutfullo truth there, Baghead, my man.


This idiot and Schultz the other 1/2 wit, plus D-Led and whatever else numbskulls this low rent paper has hired  don't have the combined good sense to pour peepee out of a boot. 


And you are certainly correct that these small minded, small town idiots contribute to the perpetual mediocrity that defines Atlanta pro sports by ratcheting up the local populace's belief that every occasional little success by Matty Melted Ice or whichever current new useless Brave means World Series rings and Superbowl Championships by the dozens are just right around the corner. 


Fools all. Unfortunately, Atlantans fall for it every time, and nobody demands better. Nobody demands accountability. Nobody demands intelligent care and planning for the talent we do get. Bad. Really bad.


This bedraggled looking dude is so fortunate he has a job w the AJC! A good junior high paper wouldn't have him writing about their girl's softball team.

Baghead
Baghead

@hardworkinman Completely agree. In fact, I find it appalling that Bradley did not criticize the clown Wren for five years yet now has the audacity to call out Hart on a few really good investments.  

Wilbo
Wilbo

@Chop_Chop Silly Person, the current team is NOT competitive, unless you have in mind competing for a 3rd place spot in the NL EAST. They might pull that off. with a little luck.

Baghead
Baghead

@RaiderBall I'd actually entertain offers for Freeman right now as well.  Imagine the haul you could get for one guy who apparently still likes to play pranks in the clubhouse.  Zero leadership from Freeman.

HarMul
HarMul

@RonRoberts 

I believe Gattis is the one for whom we will require a really good return or else he stays.


JUp will be traded, either before the start of the season or at the all-star break. It just depends on when we find that desperate team in need for homers.

SOB
SOB

@Jetiredo I am calling for his job. That photo of "The Three Stooges" up top should all be fired along with their butt boy Fruiti Gonzales.

TexGT
TexGT

@HarMul I don't understand the hatred against using WAR as a reference.  The statistic is actually pretty reliable, and much more informative than just batting average or RBIs.

creative
creative

@HarMul wow...what do you do for a living?  pretty hateful.  

HarMul
HarMul

@TexGT @HarMul 

I agree that WAR is informative but look at the last 3 to 4 years, not just 1 year. If you look at the player for that duration, you at least have the full picture.

HarMul
HarMul

@creative @HarMul 

Trust me, I don't love the move either. 3 mil for a part timer is too much. There are many available for 1 mil and under. But maybe they see something I don't. 

But the article was so awful. It didn't provide any insight that you can't get doing a couple of searches on espn.