Catz Corner: Did the Braves Actually Get WORSE?

Just stay on your side of the seat on the Bus, Bro, thats all Im saying. And tonight, I ain't watching Greys Anatomy. We're playing xbox, dig? - J. Meric

When the Braves signed Justin Upton yesterday Phillies fans felt a collective punch in the gut, and many called to consider the season lost before Spring Training begins. But a closer look at the numbers suggests the Braves inclusion of Martin Prado in the deal and the loss of Chipper Jones and Michael Bourn tells a different story for 2013.

There's no doubt that going back 10 years the pinnacle of being a Phillies fan happened on October 27th 2008. regardless of whether you are a die hard optimistic Phillies fan or a born and bred Negadelphian one thing binds all of us together. the fact that every season since then, at some point, your heart has been broken by this team. The hope of repeating that euphoria gave way at some point to the deafening reality of loss, end, and finality.

For me, I can pinpoint these moments succinctly. In 2009, it was the Johnny Damon single in the top of the 9th of game 5 followed by consecutive stolen bases. In 2010 it was the Juan Uribe home run off of Ryan Madson in game 6. 2011? it happened on the 2-1 triple by Rafael Furcal in the first AB of game 5. Last year it happened a few times (LOL) but the final kicker was the bottom of the 7th inning in the last game of that Houston Series, when Philippe Aumont imploded.

Each time the feeling was like a kick in the gut. a kick so strong that it punched every optimistic breath out of my lungs, and left me feeling the way I did when Katie Porter dumped me in the 11th grade. You know the feeling. This can't be happening. I had plans! We were gonna do things! A gut wrenching can't eat because I want to gag kind of emptiness.

I'll admit it. When the Braves traded for Justin Upton yesterday, I got that feeling. compounded on top of the Delmon Young news, I gave in. The season was over before it began. Hope was lost. Why bother?

Then, this morning, while twittering away, I saw a tweet from Dennis Deitch.

Really, is Upton/Upton/Johnson an upgrade on Prado/Bourn/C. Jones?

My immediate thought was uh...Duh. Yes. followed by:

Hmm.... HMMM.... NAH.... HMM????

So thanks to Dennis I did what any Saber inclined Phillies fan would do.

I looked to fangraphs. Just a simple exercise. In 2012, fWAR vs. fWAR. who's right?

Well, Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, and Michael Bourn combined for a total of 15.3 wins above replacement in 2012.

BJ, Justin, and Chris Johnson totaled 7.5

That's almost a loss of NINE WINS.

Now granted, Justin had an off year, One could say Prado had a career year, etc.. so how bout over a three year period?

Well, the problem there is Chris Johnson only has 2 years in the bigs, never played more than 136 games, and put up -0.8 war in 2011, vs 1.7 war in 2012. So lets give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he's suddenly a 2.5 war player over three years. (essentially, the production they got from an aging D-bag.)

Over three years, TOTAL fWAR:

Johnson 7.5 BJ Upton (4.1,4.1, 3.3) 11.8 Justin Upton (3.0, 6.4, 2.5) 11.9 So a total of 31.2

For the other guys?

Prado (4.3, 1.6, 5.9) 11.8 Bourn (4.7, 4.1, 6.7) 15.5 Jones (2.8, 2.0, 3.0) 7.8. So a total of 35.1

Check my math guys, but I don't see a devastating improvement. I see a team that offensively at least, got worse. It should also be noted that Chipper played 100 games a year, and I'm giving a big benefit of the doubt for Chris Johnson.

When you look deeper at the Braves roster, and realize that Jayson Heward had a 6.9 fWAR season, It's hard to make a case that he's gonna get THAT MUCH better. Yeah, yeah, Freddie Freeman is 23 and poised for a breakout. but he was a 2 war 1B last season.

Their bullpen is better, sure (which is frightening) but Can Kris Medlen repeat? Can Andrelton Simmons be the leadoff guy Michael Bourn was? Which Brian McCann shows up? How does losing David Ross and his 1.5 WAR affect that pitching staff?

The point here, is that if EVERYONE ELSE ON THEIR ROSTER performs at or above the same levels as 2012, the loss of Prado and Jones, and especially Michael Bourn is pretty huge.

The Braves won 94 games in 2012. But they won 94 games because everything went right. Heyward, Bourn and Prado had career years. Chipper came back from injury and put up 3 WAR. Kris Medlen came back and dominated. by my count, they lost 8 wins, and are an 86 win team.

And by my count, Upton, Upton and Johnson have to have career years, McCann has to bounce back, Simmons has to produce big time, Uggla can't regress any more, and they gave up SP depth by dealing Hanson and Delgado.Tim Hudson is 38. Who's to say he wont be a question mark as well.

Every damn thing in the world went wrong with the Phillies in 2012. Halladay was hurt, Howard and Utley missed half the season, We traded Vic and Pence, Cliff Lee didn't win a game until the 4th of July, and they still won 81 games.

Chase Utley put up 3.2 war last year in 83 games. Hunter Pence went from being a 4.8 WAR player to a 1.8 war guy. Howard was -1.0. Say what you want but Ryan Howard isn't a negative WAR player over 150 games.

Point is: WE SUCKED LAST YEAR AND STILL WON 81 GAMES!!!

For the record, fangraphs predicts the following war for Johnson, Upton and Upton for 2013. 1.4, 5.2, 4.0. Thats 9.8

If you assume Chipper would be a 3 WAR player, Bourn and Prado project at 4.6 and 4.5 thats 12.1.

So even if you just wanna look at projections, the Braves lost 2 .3 wins in this deal for 2013.

It its my humble opinion that the Braves, by dealing Martin Prado in this deal, and losing Michael Bourn, got better for the future in the OF, but worse in 2013. They basically traded three positions of strength for two.I also believe in my heart of hearts that theres no way on god greens earth that things can be worse than they were for the Phillies in 2012.

Not when they have a 158mm payroll and money and prospects to burn. Not with the Cable deal on the line. They're looking to be in this at the deadline and regroup, they're hoping that no one gets hurt, that Hallday and Utley and howard and Rollins (who are the KEYS to this team) come to camp healthy and ready to go.

And come July, they'll know.

One more comment that's pure opinion here. I love my brother. Love him with all my heart. But I don't know how excited I'd be if he worked with me every day. There are days when we'd get lot done, days when we'd goof off, and days when we'd want to kill each other over stupid shit. We empower each other both positively and negatively. Much has been said about how great it'll be for Justin and BJ to play together, but there's a lot of negative that can come out of that as well. Its a great story. But I can just as easily picture a fistfight in the dugout and I can a fistbump at the plate.

So don't go jumping off the Walt Whitman just yet.

That kick in the stomach I had yesterday? I don't feel it anymore.

Catz Out.

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