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Category Archives: Ronald Acuna Jr.

Trickle-Down of Bryce Harper signing (Or…the piece in which I trade Ender again)

Bryce Harper will sign soon…
Oh brother, how many times have we heard that uttered by a national baseball writer? It does look like we’re finally reaching the peak of his market with mentions of the Giants, Phillies, Dodgers, and even smaller mentions of Braves and Cubs *checking in*. In truth, I think it’s really down to the 3, and there’s 1 team out of that 3 that, if Bryce signed with them, it could be very beneficial for the Braves.
According to nearly everyone on the Internet, the Dodgers are seen as Bryce Harper’s first choice. It makes sense.

They compete on a regular basis.
They have money to spend.
The location is quite close to his Las Vegas home.
It’s a big stage.

On the outside looking in, it seems like a shorter term deal with less guaranteed $ would be less appealing and that is my thought process right now. If Bryce is handed a deal by the San Francisco Giants for 10+ years at 30-33MM/year, I think he’ll be choose them.  For me, the Giants are leading this rat-race, followed by the Dodgers, then the Phillies.
For the sake of my sanity and this piece, I want his landing spot to be the Dodgers.
How the Dodgers Landing Harper could make the Braves Better
A hypothetical inside a hypothetical…yes, I’m bored. If the Dodgers were to land Bryce Harper, 2 things happen:

There was already a logjam…but now there will be logs upon logs stacked up, wondering how they got there and how long it’ll take for them to rot on the bench.
If Dodgers want to avoid paying luxury tax, they’ll have to move $.

There have already been rumors of Braves checking in (or Dodgers checking in with the Braves) concerning Joc Pederson.  As of now, the fit isn’t there for either team as the Braves have no spot for semi-regulars at-bats for another left-handed OF bat, but that doesn’t mean that, through other moves, there couldn’t be.
Proposal Number 1
Dodgers acquire C.J. Alexander and Corbin Clouse
Braves acquire Joc Pederson and Rich Hill
News just broke that many of the Braves starting pitcher candidates are either
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 01: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a grand slam home run in the second inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on May 1, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
experiencing elbow or shoulder soreness. Couple that with the Soroka news (although he’s about to start throwing again, so that’s good) and grabbing another starter, especially one that could slot in as numero uno, without making a huge commitment in years or prospects, seems incredibly smart.
Proposal Number 2
Braves acquire Kyle Tucker (Yup…again!)
Astros acquire Ender Inciarte (That’ll teach you to block me!!!!)
This is the quick and dirty proposal, but it doesn’t have to be this…rather it could be any high-end MLB-ready OF prospect in return for a CF needy team. Astros still have George Springer penciled in at CF, and that didn’t go well last year. Move him over to the corner and give Ender control of their OF. The Astros are fine on offense and could really use the defensive minded Inciarte in the outfield.
Defensive Breakdown
The Braves can afford to lose Ender Inciarte. Yes…this goes out to you “But what about the defense?” people. This is an experiment. An experiment of Ronald Acuna taking over CF for 1 year (at the minimum). I’ve watched him in CF in MiLB. I’ve watched him in CF in MLB. My below average baseball eye saw a kid that can track the heck out of the ball when squared up with the batter and has the speed to make up for mistakes as captain of the outfield. When he played the corner, it showed a different player. One in which the ball got on him too quickly and speed made up for mistakes….most of the time.While I’m not going to get too advanced stat-heavy here, Acuna’s small sample of advanced metrics agreed with the eye test, and if those ring true, moving Acuna to CF and trading Ender, will not be a dropoff in defense. If it doesn’t work out, it’s literally for 1 year as, hopefully, Cristian Pache (or Drew Waters) will be ready to patrol CF at some capacity in 2020.
Joc’s lack of above average foot-speed shows in the outfield, but he can still track with the best of them, just not as a CFer.  Joc slots into LF nicely against right-handed pitchers, where his above average defense (combined with Acuna’s above average defense in CF) actually makes the team better defensively, if the advanced metrics of a small sample ring true.
And then there’s Kyle Tucker (or someone equivalent) and pitching
Grabbing a future stud OFer should be the Braves top priority in any trade happening this offseason. Rich Hill provides a really good veteran stop-gap for a group of young pitchers that need MLB innings to prove/disprove their own worth, one of which could prove to be that as the Braves need.
Hope you enjoyed this quick piece. And hope it’s still relevant when I hit post!
Go Braves!

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Out of Gas: The Braves Fall to the Dodgers in the NLDS

A season no one could have predicted ended in the most predictable manner as the Braves were outplayed by a better and deeper roster. The razor-thin margin of error for the Braves played out over-and-over in front of a loud and supportive Atlanta crowd Monday night. Opportunities came and opportunities petered out. In the end, it was the Braves who saw yet another team celebrate advancing the playoffs, something the Braves have failed to do in every postseason series since the 2001 NLDS.
But unlike so many of those instances where fans felt the heartache of another promising year ending with October failure, there was more of a bittersweet feeling left as the Braves’s 2018 campaign came to a close. They were never supposed to be in this place. This was supposed to be another rebuilding season. But this year’s squad, led by a 26-year-old flamethrower and a 20-year-old dynamic outfielder exceeded all expectations until they finally ran into a buzz-saw known as the near-luxury tax threshold Dodgers, who routinely began games in this series with a 100+ homers sitting on the bench.
The Braves had their chances, though. They took a 2-1 lead on a pinch-hit single by Kurt Suzuki – possibly his final hit as a Brave. They could have added on with a fifth inning which included a single, a walk, and an error. But with the bases loaded, #6 hitter Tyler Flowers and #7 hitter Ender Inciarte popped up. An inning later, Brad Brach surrendered a two-run single to give the lead back to the Dodgers. Rookie Chad Sobotka, pushed into a high-leverage role after just over a dozen games in the majors, was roughed up for a three-run homer in the seventh that seemed to seal the Braves’ fate.
A potential threat in the eighth fizzled after Lucas Duda hit a ball a country mile, but foul. There were a pair of runners on. Had he been able to Carlton Fisk that ball around the right-field foul ball, it would have been a one-run game. But it was not to be. Duda flied out to center to end the at-bat and the Braves went quietly in the ninth. The Dodgers will advance to face the Brewers in the NLCS.
The Braves were simply not the better team. They relied on rookies like Max Fried, Touki Toussaint, and Sobotka to not just throw innings – but important ones. They used a guy they released earlier this year, Lane Adams, as a pinch hitter and another, Ryan Flaherty, who was designated for assignment. They were missing their starting shortstop, Dansby Swanson, and that came up big on the single against Brach. Culberson dived after a ball and missed. It was the kind of play that Swanson likely keeps on the infield at minimum.
And those that did play were outgunned by a better pitching staff and a lineup without an easy out. Johan Camargo failed to record a hit in four games. Nick Markakis only had one. Atlanta hit two homers compared to eight by the Dodgers. Of the 19 hits they managed in the series, just three went for extra bases. They didn’t steal a base, the Dodgers swiped eight.
Pitching-wise, Atlanta struck out 35 Dodgers in the four games. They walked 27.
In the end, the Braves just weren’t a match for the Dodgers. Not this year, anyway. But keep in mind – the Braves aren’t even close to being the team many believe they are capable of. Next spring, they’ll have Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, and Sean Newcomb back and they’ll be joined by Toussaint, Fried, Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Mike Soroka, and Kolby Allard. Add an arm like Patrick Corbin to the top of that rotation and deal away Julio Teheran and just imagine how good things can be. The pen will be aided by overflow from the starting rotation plus the returns of Arodys Vizcaino, A.J. Minter, a resurgent combination of Daniel Winkler and Jesse Biddle, and other young kids like Patrick Weigel, Corbin Clouse, and Thomas Burrows looking to make an impression.
The Braves need a catcher and they may have got a good look at that future catcher in Yasmani Grandal. Add in more experience for Ozzie Albies, Swanson, and Camargo – along with the power-hitting prospect Austin Riley. Inciarte and Ronald Acuña Jr. will be back, though a hole exists. Fortunately, for the Braves, there are plenty of options including Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, and Michael Brantley
In Los Angeles, the Braves see who they want to become. They want to be that team that can go to the bench and bring up a Max Muncy or a Joc Pederson. They want to find and develop pitchers who deliver an onslaught of quality strikes. And they desperately want a bullpen with more than one reliable arm at a time. They weren’t there yet in 2018, but they were a lot closer than anyone thought they would be last February. Now, armed with a collection of amazing young talent – and more on the way – along with roughly $50 million in spending money, the Braves will look to return to the playoffs in 2019.
And win.
Tonight wasn’t an ending. The Braves, my friends, are just beginning.

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