The Braves just traded away their Mariano Rivera

He’s gone, too. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

He's gone, too. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

He’s gone, too. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

Not that it wasn’t already clear what they were doing, but the Atlanta Braves just made it blatant: They care nothing about winning now. They just traded Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. to San Diego. One of them will be missed.

Earlier Sunday, the Braves had released their 25-man roster for Opening Day. Their outfield included four names: Three castoffs (Jonny Gomes, Kelly Johnson and Eric Young Jr.) plus Nick Markakis. Only for this talent-challenged team could the the acquisition of Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin — both included in this trade — be considered a boon.

There were only a half-dozen names on that original 25-man roster worth underscoring, and the best of them has since been traded. I understand the logic: If you’re not planning on winning, why pay to have the best closer in the business? But the flaw in the whole Braves’ tear-down-to-rebuild plan remains, more now than ever: What if you never find players as good as the ones you’re dumping?

There’s a school of thought among the sabermetric set that closers in baseball are always overvalued, that all of them are roughly the same. But even the sabermetric set agrees that, in recent years, there have been two shining exceptions. One was Mariano Rivera. The other is Kimbrel.

And that’s where we are today: The Braves just traded away their Mariano Rivera. I’m sure they had to include the best in the business to get someone to eat Bossman Jr.’s salary, but still: This really makes you want to buy a ticket to see this bunch play, doesn’t it?

Reader Comments 2

244 comments
BobbyDawg
BobbyDawg

We had a dying/dead team with a bunch of has beens who were spoiled rotten and didn't need the money nor did they want to take up their off time with post season play. Then someone came along and cleaned house and started what appears to be a successful rebuild and we've got people complaining about it. As for me. I'll be sitting in my usual seat for the next five games cheering them on win or lose.

Ronster1947
Ronster1947

Mr. Bradley, I have never seen a World Series won (or lost) on paper.  It's still baseball, and the 25 on the Braves active roster are still major league-quality players, and they still have to cross the chalk line and . . . play the game.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@Ronster1947


"the 25 on the Braves active roster are still major league-quality players"


You're a comedian

Wilbo
Wilbo

Sux soooooo bad to see the Atlanta Gutless Losers on top of the NL East.


Enjoy it quickly, knuckleheads. It won't last long!

Remember1991
Remember1991

Why don't you naysayers just slash your wrists, or something?  Cry me a river.  Yeah, right, the management doesn't want to pay a guy $15 million to pitch in perhaps 50 games (that's about $100K per OUT) and you're ready to jump off a bridge.  I will just BET that you become a Padres fan, Tonya. And I will just BET that you will only go to watch the opponents, VeryDisgusted. And, I will just BET that you aren't going to any more Braves games, Aznole.


You whiners are pathetic.  "Oh no!  That evil ownership just (sob sob) traded my (sniffle sniffle) CLOSER! Oh, the humanity! What are we ever gonna do NOW???  I better stay home from work.  Better yet, I think I'll become an ALCOHOLIC!"


I got an idea, why don't you GROW A SET and move on?!?


Let me ask the collective the same question I asked VeryDisgusted:  If Craig had blown ALL his saves last year, would the Braves have made the playoffs?  Okay, what if he had MADE all his saves?  Same result, right?


The saves weren't the problem, and they aren't the answer. As others have said, the closer is the most over-rated and over-hyped position in baseball.



Remember1991
Remember1991

@Wilbo @Remember1991 I worked in NYC 30 years ago and had to deal with the mentally challenged every day. I do agree that the Yankees are a legacy and that is why their piss-poor performances these past couple years (finishing 12 games behind each) was, hopefully, not a trend.  Otherwise, there will be some VERY upset pizza eaters up there.  

tonya b wilson
tonya b wilson

I'VE BEEN A BRAVES FAN FOR OVER FIFTY YEARS. I AM NOW A PADRES FAN.

    I WILL NEVER BUY ANYTHING FROM THE BRAVES AGAIN.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@tonya b wilson  That's a little extreme, don't you think?  50 years thrown away because of one trade???? You put up with 25 years of mostly garbage play and now give up on them because of Kimbrel?   I didn't want to lose the guy either, but come on!!  At least we dumped that Upton brother loser.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

I will buy a ticket -- to see a quality opponent

Remember1991
Remember1991

@VeryDisgusted Maybe Craig can get 40 saves for the Padres and they can still miss the playoffs, too?  I guess that losing another 40 games probably wouldn't have meant much, doncha think?  One player does not make a team.  Or two.  Or three.  Or four.  Shall I go on?

Remember1991
Remember1991

@Wilbo @Remember1991 Okay. Good idea, Yank-me fan.  Since I have nothing better to do, I suppose I can go to the Yank-me blog sites and troll on there for awhile and read all the comments about how great they were before Steinbrenner croaked.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

The only good thing that comes out of this trade is getting rid of the Upton Jr contract


And there is no guarantee that Liberty will put the money saved back into the team -- I think payroll is going down like it or not that is how LM operates


I am not buying into the disingenuous JOhn Hart plan he is a buffoon

Digitalsapien
Digitalsapien

@VeryDisgusted Liberty Media doesn't have anything to do with the Braves operations and this is a well known fact.

Jonathan Shepherd
Jonathan Shepherd

Did the braves get a power hitter in the prospects no all those trades in the off season no power hitters just mainly pitchers lol

5150POAD
5150POAD

A NATIONAL: CHAMPIONSHIP game in basketball was played and a meaningless baseball game gets all the coverage?

Well KenSUCKY wasn't in the game and no SEC team played so i guess it didn't happen in the SOUTH.

The PATHETIC AJC shows it's true colors again. 

HopelessinAtlanta
HopelessinAtlanta

Most of the criticism of this trade is based on false assumptions. While all can agree that Kimbrel is the best closer in baseball, his position is still grossly over valued. Kimbrel blew 4 saves last year - there were 10 other closers with 30 or more saves who blew 4 or less saves. He is not irreplaceable. The Padres paid thru the nose for his services. While the Braves lost a great closer with a very distinctive and recognizable style, his production can be replaced especially in a rebuilding year. 

The Braves already have his replacements on staff and they should closely match his production. They have also acquired a boatload of prospects and high draft choices for this year.

The Braves won big on this trade except for the marquis value that was Craig. We shall see who or whom will fill that position in the future.   

pbond3
pbond3

@HopelessinAtlanta 

Agree 100%. Compared to say a good catcher or starting pitcher or shortstop etc., replacing a closer is not all that difficult. Few years ago when Mariano Rivera went down in spring training (he never threw a pitch the whole season), the Yanks quickly signed Raphael Soriano and went to the playoffs. Back in 2012, Giants ace closer Brian Wilson was lost for the season in April, and all they did was win the World Series. Anyone recall who closed games for the Giants that year? Me neither. 

 CK is certainly the best, but the closer is the most overrated POSITION in the game, and the save stat ranks a couple levels above meaningless. Back in 2007, a Rangers pitcher actually recorded a save in a 30-3 win over the Orioles (rules for save have not changed since then). A save would be very credible with one simple change: remove the requirement that he finish the game. That way a guy who comes in to pitch the 7th or 8th with 2 men on and 0 or 1 out in a close game and stops the rally could earn the save, and not the guy who comes in to pitch the 9th with a 2 or 3 run lead and the bases empty. Let the official scorer decide who gets a save, just like they decide if someone gets an error.

aznole
aznole

The article is correct. Kimbrel is the best  closer in the game and he is in his mid-20s. Even if you're 'targeting' 2017 this guy should not be traded. I will go to ZERO Braves games this year.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@aznole Don't go next year, either.


Don't give this pathetic excuse for professional baseball franchise a dime until they show they are somehow working to earn your entertainment dollar.


Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

@aznole please don't. you just want to see the flames on the jumbo torn and here the rock song as he trots out. shallow baseball fan.

scottarino
scottarino

@aznole Fine, stay at home with yer college football. You realize this is Mark Bradley you're agreeing with, AND the topic is baseball, a sport completely foreign to the AJC columnists. 

oledawg
oledawg

Assume the Braves announced today that they have slashed ticket prices for the 2015 season???  After the millions they slashed yesterday from payroll they certainly have room to do so...IF they give a tinkers damn about the fans???

PeterSuli
PeterSuli

Sad, I know they were thinking about it, and I have heard the logic, but the most exciting pitcher since the Glavin/Maddux/Smoltz days just left the building, and we sent him away....

mcdaviddawg
mcdaviddawg

Once was a fan of the Atlanta Braves the new Chattanooga Braves can go to hell.

SeanLB
SeanLB

Maybe now the fanbase will get in touch with reality.  This team, before all of these trades, WASN'T EVEN CLOSE.


Great moves by John Hart.  Tough to watch, but if you want to win a WS, we needed every one of these offseason moves.  

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

@SeanLB 


A - Identifying a need to re-tool the 25-man roster


B - Jettisoning young player after young player - most of whom came up through the Braves system and the fans followed for years before their debuts.


Can you see how these two approaches can exists outside of each other?

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

MB was never comparing Rivera and Kimbrel, instead suggesting that CK means to the Braves what MR meant to Yankees, BUT... if you want to compare the two in their first 4 years as closers for their respective teams:


Kimbrel: 186 saves in 205 chances 91% ....436 K and 92 BB 4.7:1 K/BB ratio

Rivera: 160 saves in 183 chances 87%......214 K and 80 BB  2.7:1 K/BB ratio


As you can see, Kimbrel's numbers are better than Rivera's at this point in their careers.  You can't blame Kimbrel for Atlanta not getting to postseason play, as he was not surrounded by players acquired with the deep pockets of the Yankees.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@PalmBeachFalcon


Who cares what their respective numbers are their first 20 minutes in the major leagues? 


Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer in MLB history. He has 100 postseason appearances w a postseason ERA of .7 and 11 World Series saves. If Rivera's contribution to baseball was The Golden Gate Bridge, Kimbrel's contribution would be a walk path over a dry creek in Peefunk, Alabama.


Kimbrel's name doesn't belong anywhere in the same article w that of Mo Rivera. Typically stupid provincial Atlanta thinking. Our guy looked great against the Little Sister's of the Poor girls church league softball team, so he's equal to the historic greats in baseball.


Like I said before, I caused a fumble in a 1968 high school game that lead to the winning drive in our big end of season rival game. Does that mean I belong in the pro football HOF? 


Being a big fish in a teensie weensie pond doesn't mean dukey squat about being able to star on the world's biggest stages. Atlanta is small time, suckah! What peeps do here doesn't even compare to being a historic winner on a dynastic World Series team. Mark Bradley is a moron, and so is anybody who swallows this limp crapola rolla.


Forgive me for repeating, but nothing sums up the sitchee ayshun like this: Craig Kimbrel could not carry Mariano Rivera's jockstrap unless he wore it over his nose for a lunch basket.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@Wilbo @PalmBeachFalcon  Like I said, Kimbrel was better in this point in his career.  Rivera was fortunate enough to be on the big stage because the Yankees bought anyone they wanted to get to the WS.  Without the Yankees, Rivera is Trevor Hoffman.

PeterSuli
PeterSuli

@Wilbo @PalmBeachFalcon Let me guess, a Yankees' fan/New Yorker... Whatever, keep it up there. If you can't recognize Kimbrell's talent, and say that Kimbrell would be blowing saves in Rivera's stay, you have your head all the way up your rear.

PeterSuli
PeterSuli

@PalmBeachFalcon @Wilbo That's a great analogy. Keep in mind that is assuming that Rivera can post the same numbers Hoffman did on a mediocre team. Rivera has the luxury of playing for a team where the owner bought an all-star team every year. Rivera got a silly amount of opportunities in postseason.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Your upper lip

Wilbo
Wilbo

@PalmBeachFalcon


Craig Kimbrel could not carry Mariano Rivera's jockstrap unless he wore it over his nose for a lunch basket.

Digitalsapien
Digitalsapien

@Wilbo @PalmBeachFalcon As great as Rivera was, objectively speaking, Kimbrel is absolutely leaps and bounds ahead of Rivera's career arc. This is an unequivocal fact. Your assumptions are asinine and baseless, and flagrantly incorrect. You clearly are a biased, Braves-hating troll with zero objectivity. Go back under your bridge and eat rot.

Remember1991
Remember1991

@Digitalsapien @Wilbo @PalmBeachFalcon I worked in NYC before moving to Atlanta 30 years ago. One thing I learned about trying to argue with someone from New Jersey or New York....fuggetaboutit.  


A steady diet of dirty dogs and slices does something to their brain cells. They are indoctrinated with Yankee lore before they are even out of their pull-ups (usually just before Kindergarten). That said, they HAVE to fall in love and admire other men -- even those on a baseball team.  If you lived up there and saw the women they have to pick from, you would know why. That's why skanky rhymes with Yankee.  Little trivia there.



VegasDawg
VegasDawg

"This really makes you want to buy a ticket to see this bunch play, doesn’t it?"...I'm a long time appreciative  reader of Mark's columns  but really...when was the last time Mark Bradley bought Braves tickets.....

GeckoS
GeckoS

Thank you Frank Wren. I have set up a FB group called Free Freddy Freeman. Why do the Braves need an All-Star. Join me in setting him free.


PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@GeckoS If you actually set up a page on Facebook, you may want to start by spelling his name correctly.

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

Craig Kimbrell has a lot of years to pitch to match Mariano Rivera's accomplishments. Hopefully, he will stay healthy and do that. I didn't think that the Braves had a chance of unloading Upton unless the trade included at least one or two of the following: Freeman, Teheran, Wood, Kimbrell, Simmons. I'm glad it was Kimbrell, whose value to the team would have been diminished without a strong lineup to get the lead going in to the 9th.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Please, please, please, please, PLEASE do not under any circumstances purchase any single ticket, item, cap, T-shirt, ANYTHING that might in any way subsidize the current ownership of the Atlanta Braves.


I'm hoping for about 52-110, and I think that would serve this disgustingly inept organization perfectly.


If you care at all about about Atlanta and/or the Braves, help drive this useless, community damaging organization to its financial knees.


DO NOT SPEND ONE RED CENT ON THE ATLANTA BRAVES UNTIL THIS OWNERSHIP IS DRIVEN AWAY!!!

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

Look the Braves lost their way back in the mid-2000's when they sold their soul just to keep that useless streak of flags alive.  Starting with trading Adam Wainwright for JD Drew; then having to trade Kevin Millwood for one more season of an over-the-hill Greg Maddux; then trading our entire farm system for 6 months of Mark Texiera; hiring a proven bonehead in Frank Wren to take charge who proceeded to make desperate signings, just to pacify the "dummy" fans by making moves just for the sake of making moves (see, Melvin Upton).  OK so now we have to pay the piper by offing some liked dudes.  But it is 100% necessary, and yesterday's move was the exclamation point on a phenomenal offseason. Bravo and bring on the season!!!!

Remember1991
Remember1991

@CarrollSanders Finally, somebody (besides myself) speaking some sense!  The Padres jumpers and Damn Yankees on this thread are both 0 and 1 and the new Bravos are 2 and 0, thank you very much.  (Yes, I know we have a looooooooooong way to go.)

scottarino
scottarino

@CarrollSanders spot on, spot on! Atlanta baseball 'Fans" need to bone up on the game a bit. It's baseball guys, learn to see the big picture, put on your big boys pants and stop whining like children who lost their dolly. 

Trackbacks

  1. […] pitchers will have to work a quality start nearly every game for this team to have a chance. And without the peerless Craig Kimbrel on the back end, the bullpen won’t be as good. Yes, these relievers done the job so far, but […]

  2. […] have been as creative as all get-out. They got the Padres to take Melvin Upton Jr. off their hands, albeit at the cost of Craig Kimbrel. My favorite was the deal with Arizona for Bronson Arroyo, who probably won’t ever pitch […]