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Lessons From Atlanta: If You Have A Shot, Take It


The Atlanta Braves were buyers even though they had a 51-54 record and were five games back at the trade deadline. They entered Sunday one win away from becoming World Series champions. Hopefully, the Minnesota Twins front office is paying attention.

What’s striking about Atlanta’s July makeover is they didn’t even go big. Their front office made several key improvements to the outfield, but taking on salary meant they didn’t have to give up much to make those upgrades.

It’s pretty incredible what can be done if a team’s willing to invest. Not even go for broke, simply try.

We don’t have to look back far to find a Twins team that’s comparable to this year’s Atlanta club. Back in 2017, the first year of Derek Falvey & Co.’s tenure, the Twins had one of the strangest deadlines in recent memory. They decided to go for it, then changed their minds.

The Twins traded for Jaime Garcia on July 24, when they were 49-49, three games back in the division. They traded Garcia away on July 30, when they were 50-53, seven games back in the division. All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler was also dealt away on the 31st, leaving Matt Belisle to close out games.

The 2017 club responded to that slight sell-off by going 20-10 in August. Back then, there was still an opportunity to make trades during August via waivers. There were some valuable pieces moved that month, but none of them to the Twins. Entering play on Aug. 31, 2017, the Twins still trailed Cleveland by seven games but were only a game back of the Yankees for the top wild card spot.

Is it crazy to think a couple of improvements and a show of good faith by the front office may have resulted in the Twins catching the Yankees and having home-field advantage in that Wild Card Game? Maybe that wouldn’t have mattered and the Yankees were going to overcome the Twins no matter where the game was played, but I can’t help but wonder ...

It’s hard for me to ignore the fact that Ervin Santana, who started that Wild Card Game, posted a 4.16 career ERA at Target Field and a 6.50 ERA at Yankee Stadium. José Berríos, who also ended up pitching in that 2017 Wild Card Game, has an even more extreme split, with a 3.61 ERA in Minnesota and a 6.43 mark at Yankee Stadium. At the very least, having that game played in Minnesota certainly couldn’t have hurt.

The 2017 Twins were the first team in MLB history to make the postseason a year after losing 100 games, so it would be unfair to look back at that season as a failure. A missed opportunity? I think that’s fair.

Even if the Twins had beaten the Yankees, they still would have had to overcome Cleveland and Houston, both of whom won more than 100 games that year. Seems far-fetched, but it’s also about as unlikely as this 2021 Atlanta team beating the 95-win Milwaukee Brewers and 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers. Highly unlikely, but not impossible.

This 2021 Atlanta team shows that every front office in the league should be obligated to improve their club if they’re near .500 and have any shot of a postseason berth. A lot can happen over the final two months of the regular season. The New York Mets taking a nosedive definitely helped Atlanta’s ascension, but they definitely don’t get as far as they have without Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson.

Nobody saw this coming, postseason baseball is unpredictable and a hot team can punch above its weight on paper in a series. Give your team a chance and you never know what might happen.

With 20/20 hindsight, the other issue with the 2017 decisions by the Twins front office is they hurt the club in both the short and long run. Huascar Ynoa was traded away and none of the prospects added in the second Garcia swap (Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns) or the Kintzler deal (Tyler Watson) made a big long-term impact with the Twins.

It’s all water under the bridge at this point, of course, but here’s hoping this Twins front office learned its lessons and is paying attention to what Atlanta has accomplished this October.


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Thanks Tom to bring this to rememberance, I really liked both Garcia and Kintzler and was disappointed to see them go. Kintzler was our best RP and Garcia had fit very well and was about to take off as a Twin in the short time he was with us. If the FO had stuck to their original plan and kept both of them and find a good deal to bolster the team we could have been in the driver's seat. 

BTW pretty good catch by Rosario. He came through when he had to. I wasn't so sure he was going to make it when he took his eye off the ball to check the wall but he did and helped save the game. Love to see under dog ATL beat cheater HOU.

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Agreed with this take on "Go For It" The Blue Jays got some flak on this board for being out of their minds going in on the Berrios trade and they only missed the playoffs by 1 game. While the season ended in a disappointing fashion by just barely missing the playoffs, it was pretty clear Blue Jays fans didn't regret going for it.

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18 minutes ago, Nine of twelve said:

cripple your team

The Cubs traded Gleybar Torres and won a World Series. Nobody in Chicago regrets that move. 

I love prospects as much as anyone but they are just  unproven parts of an organization. Good trades work. When Cleveland traded Rosario to Atlanta, both teams accomplished their goal.

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1 hour ago, bean5302 said:

Agreed with this take on "Go For It" The Blue Jays got some flak on this board for being out of their minds going in on the Berrios trade and they only missed the playoffs by 1 game. While the season ended in a disappointing fashion by just barely missing the playoffs, it was pretty clear Blue Jays fans didn't regret going for it.

From what I could tell at the time, a sizeable portion of Blue Jays fans were not happy with the trade from what I saw, and they will probably be livid if Martin and SWR turn into good players in the future. Missing the playoffs this year is a blow to the value they could get from the deal.

The Braves aren't convincing me that trading for guys when you are below .500 to go on a fluky playoff run is a good idea... but I do think that when you are in clear contention, like they were in 2019 and 2020, then it's time to go all-in and be willing to move more prospects. 

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2 hours ago, bean5302 said:

Agreed with this take on "Go For It" The Blue Jays got some flak on this board for being out of their minds going in on the Berrios trade and they only missed the playoffs by 1 game. While the season ended in a disappointing fashion by just barely missing the playoffs, it was pretty clear Blue Jays fans didn't regret going for it.

Not only did the Jays only miss by one game, they faced a ton of adversity playing away from Toronto *and* they were wildly unlucky with their run sequencing. They should have cruised to a postseason appearance, frankly.

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I had the Braves out of the playoffs and even if in doing nothing mainly because I didn't think they had the pitching to win a world series..  Baseball is crazy game the 87 Twins were another team that shouldn't have but did win a WS.  It is fun when teams come out of nowhere and get hot and just get it done.  It is what makes baseball so much fun.

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2 hours ago, strumdatjag said:

I don’t go with blowing up the future to push a long shot bid for a wild card.  I’m glad Atlanta is succeeding against the cheaters.   But it ain’t a blueprint.  

Thing is Atlanta didn't blow up the future at all. Here are the guys they gave up.

For Rosario: Pablo Sandoval, who was immediately released by Cleveland.

For Soler: Kasey Kalich, a reliever in High-A. Not among the top-30 Royals prospects per MLB Pipeline.

For Duval: Alex Jackson, a 25-year-old catcher who has hit .132/.243/.225 (.488 OPS) in 61 MLB games. 

For Pederson: Bryce Ball, a High-A first baseman who hit .206/.351/.387 (.738 OPS) this year. He is not listed among the Cubs' top-30 prospects on MLB Pipeline, though he was No. 19 on Atlanta's 2020 list.

Atlanta really didn't do any damage to its future by making those trades. They mainly provided salary relief to the teams they dealt with.

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2 hours ago, Danchat said:

From what I could tell at the time...

Yep, at the time Jays fans felt like the team gave up too much. That feeling lasted for all of about 3 weeks. It was a steep price for the Blue Jays to have paid, but watching Martin ice over for a month and Woods-Richardson basically fail to pitch the rest of the year along with Berrios pitching very well for them and the close playoff chance made up for all of it.

Even if Martin and Woods-Richardson do turn into something great, all the Blue Jays need is one World Series and none of it even matters.

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3 hours ago, bean5302 said:

Yep, at the time Jays fans felt like the team gave up too much. That feeling lasted for all of about 3 weeks. It was a steep price for the Blue Jays to have paid, but watching Martin ice over for a month and Woods-Richardson basically fail to pitch the rest of the year along with Berrios pitching very well for them and the close playoff chance made up for all of it.

Even if Martin and Woods-Richardson do turn into something great, all the Blue Jays need is one World Series and none of it even matters.

Fans will still complain if either player worked out. It will always matter. 

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Completely agree with the OP.

Kudos to the Braves. Losing Acuna and Ozuna, It would have been easy to curl up into the fetal position. Instead, they looked at a winnable division and took steps to make themselves better. Fill holes. 

I wish our front office were similarly aggressive. 

 

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5 hours ago, Tom Froemming said:

Thing is Atlanta didn't blow up the future at all. Here are the guys they gave up.

For Rosario: Pablo Sandoval, who was immediately released by Cleveland.

For Soler: Kasey Kalich, a reliever in High-A. Not among the top-30 Royals prospects per MLB Pipeline.

For Duval: Alex Jackson, a 25-year-old catcher who has hit .132/.243/.225 (.488 OPS) in 61 MLB games. 

For Pederson: Bryce Ball, a High-A first baseman who hit .206/.351/.387 (.738 OPS) this year. He is not listed among the Cubs' top-30 prospects on MLB Pipeline, though he was No. 19 on Atlanta's 2020 list.

Atlanta really didn't do any damage to its future by making those trades. They mainly provided salary relief to the teams they dealt with.

https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=rel&lg=all&qual=0&type=0&season=2021&month=0&season1=2021&ind=0&team=0,ts&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&startdate=2021-01-01&enddate=2021-12-31&sort=12,d

I would say from looking at this list that getting something for nothing is easier said than done. Doing what you can without costing a decent prospect is a pure genius move by a GM. One wonders why no one has ever done that before

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11 hours ago, bean5302 said:

Yep, at the time Jays fans felt like the team gave up too much. That feeling lasted for all of about 3 weeks. It was a steep price for the Blue Jays to have paid, but watching Martin ice over for a month and Woods-Richardson basically fail to pitch the rest of the year along with Berrios pitching very well for them and the close playoff chance made up for all of it.

Even if Martin and Woods-Richardson do turn into something great, all the Blue Jays need is one World Series and none of it even matters.

We have to assume, and yes I know that can be dangerous, that the Twins believed that: 1) Berrios was not signing an extension and would test free agency after 2022; and 2) They will have the same chance of signing him then whether he was a Twin or Blue Jay.  With that assumption and the fact this year was 100% in the crapper, trading Jose made sense.

So then the question is whether or not they got the best return they could expect.  Considering the griping I read from Toronto, sounds like they did.  Whenever anyone discusses both prospects, we must remember that Martin was drafted (was it #5 overall?), sat on his butt last summer, then began his professional career in AA.  And SWR is only 20 years old and also at AA, something unheard of in the Twins organization.  Add that prior to joining the Twins, SWR had not appeared in a game for what, two months, it makes sense that they were very careful with his usage the last month of Wichita's season.

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Agree with the idea that the Twins, and every team, should be open to making deals to improve at the deadline, but this wasn't Atlanta trading for a bunch of stars to fill in for their injured and arrested stars they lost. Duval was the only one of the 4 who was really having a good year before they got him (still only a 100 OPS+ with Miami, 104 with Atl). Joc was below average before the trade and after. Eddie had been horrible in Cleveland. Soler was almost unplayable (76 OPS+) with KC. If the Twins made these types of moves at the deadline I don't think most fans would be praising the FO after the deadline for "going for it." I mean these are basically the deals they have been going after at deadlines, these ones just happened to work out way better than anyone could've guessed, especially in the playoffs. There's not a human on the planet who would've predicted the numbers Soler and Rosario put up for Atl after the first halves they had.

I love to see Eddie succeeding and hope the Braves win this thing (Freddie Freeman deserves a ring), but this wasn't some huge swing the Braves made. They took a flier on 3 guys bouncing back a little and 1 guy maintaining. Duval maintained and Soler and Rosario took off to heights nobody would've guessed. Good for them, but not exactly a blueprint that can be replicated frequently. 

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I 100% agree with this sentiment.  For me, 2006 was the year.  Ryan and company completely lost me that year.  That truly was a once in a lifetime type of team, and type of lightning in a bottle streak.  Batting champ, MVP, Cy Young, probably the best closer in the game.  Cuddyer and Torii may have had their best seasons.

 

And yet...we roll into the playoffs with the decaying corpse of Phil Nevin and Jason Tyner as our DH options.  Wayyy pre Twins Daily, I remember getting obliterated for suggesting a Matt Garza for Alfonso Soriano trade on a different site.  I'm sure I would still get obliterated by some :)  but I stand by it.  Would Soriano have made the difference?  No idea.  But damn that team deserved it.  

I think there were Cliff Lee rumors in 2010 as well?  Another team that had a real chance.  

Tl;dr I realize this is a different management team but they seem pretty much as risk averse as previous.  I'm remember when Michael Restovich was mostly untouchable.  Would be nice to take a shot once in awhile...

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EXACTLY THIS. The Vikings are in the same boat. I really don't follow the NFL. Between gun charges, drug charges, assault charges, $120 tickets for nosebleed seats and the Vikings never really going all-in, I just got fed up with the lack of commitment to a championship caliber team. The Twins are right there as well with me. They don't want to win a championship, they want to play over .500 and hope they get lucky enough to win a division or make the playoffs.

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/11/01/its-time-for-the-just-good-enough-vikings-to-say-enough/

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11 hours ago, Prince William said:

Fans will still complain if either player worked out. It will always matter. 

It only matters if the disgruntled fans stop spending on the team and that loss of spending is greater than the increase in spending by the fans who bought Berrios jerseys etc. You can't please everybody.

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3 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

Agree with the idea that the Twins, and every team, should be open to making deals to improve at the deadline, but this wasn't Atlanta trading for a bunch of stars to fill in for their injured and arrested stars they lost. Duval was the only one of the 4 who was really having a good year before they got him (still only a 100 OPS+ with Miami, 104 with Atl). Joc was below average before the trade and after. Eddie had been horrible in Cleveland. Soler was almost unplayable (76 OPS+) with KC. If the Twins made these types of moves at the deadline I don't think most fans would be praising the FO after the deadline for "going for it." I mean these are basically the deals they have been going after at deadlines, these ones just happened to work out way better than anyone could've guessed, especially in the playoffs. There's not a human on the planet who would've predicted the numbers Soler and Rosario put up for Atl after the first halves they had.

I love to see Eddie succeeding and hope the Braves win this thing (Freddie Freeman deserves a ring), but this wasn't some huge swing the Braves made. They took a flier on 3 guys bouncing back a little and 1 guy maintaining. Duval maintained and Soler and Rosario took off to heights nobody would've guessed. Good for them, but not exactly a blueprint that can be replicated frequently. 

I was about to write basically the exact same thing until I read your post.  I don't really understand the message provided in the OP.  Atlanta took a shot bringing in some guys who all performed at one time or another but were mediocre at best.  Is this what Twins fan want?  This was a prayer that worked out incredibly well?  They did it because it cost them nothing in terms of prospects.   What I see here is fans want to trade for players like Scherzer, Turner, Berrios, Cruz, Baez, and top RPs.  All of those teams failed.  Just like every other year buying (no matter how big) ends up failing at the deadline.  Even in a case like the Cubs, can we say with any real certainty the Cubs would not have won without Chapman?  Did the Royals need to trade away Manea in 2015?  What are the odds they would have won without Zobrist?  So, what's the takeaway here?

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6 hours ago, roger said:

......... Whenever anyone discusses both prospects, we must remember that Martin was drafted (was it #5 overall?), sat on his butt last summer, then began his professional career in AA.  ..........

I don't know that being drafted #5 overall means all that much,..... as I have vivid memories of 2013s #4 pick - Kohl Stewart, and 2015s #6, Tyler Jay. Hype fades fast at times.

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18 hours ago, bean5302 said:

Yep, at the time Jays fans felt like the team gave up too much. That feeling lasted for all of about 3 weeks. It was a steep price for the Blue Jays to have paid, but watching Martin ice over for a month and Woods-Richardson basically fail to pitch the rest of the year along with Berrios pitching very well for them and the close playoff chance made up for all of it.

Even if Martin and Woods-Richardson do turn into something great, all the Blue Jays need is one World Series and none of it even matters.

What the two prospects did in their 2 months in the Twins' org means very little to me... let's check back in on them after a full season or two. Both guys are at AA early and would probably be at A+ if they had started in the Twins' system.

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5 hours ago, Paul Mantooth said:

I 100% agree with this sentiment.  For me, 2006 was the year.  Ryan and company completely lost me that year.  That truly was a once in a lifetime type of team, and type of lightning in a bottle streak.  Batting champ, MVP, Cy Young, probably the best closer in the game.  Cuddyer and Torii may have had their best seasons.

 

And yet...we roll into the playoffs with the decaying corpse of Phil Nevin and Jason Tyner as our DH options.  Wayyy pre Twins Daily, I remember getting obliterated for suggesting a Matt Garza for Alfonso Soriano trade on a different site.  I'm sure I would still get obliterated by some :)  but I stand by it.  Would Soriano have made the difference?  No idea.  But damn that team deserved it.  

I think there were Cliff Lee rumors in 2010 as well?  Another team that had a real chance.  

Tl;dr I realize this is a different management team but they seem pretty much as risk averse as previous.  I'm remember when Michael Restovich was mostly untouchable.  Would be nice to take a shot once in awhile...

Great first post! Welcome to TD!

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3 hours ago, Danchat said:

What the two prospects did in their 2 months in the Twins' org means very little to me... let's check back in on them after a full season or two. Both guys are at AA early and would probably be at A+ if they had started in the Twins' system.

Doesn't mean much to us, but it meant a lot to the Blue Jays fans who were disgruntled, haha. It really robbed them of their inertia. I have high hopes for Martin and Woods-Richardson and I continue to like the the trade given the Twins' situation.

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Good Trades are good trades.  Non tenders to good players are not.  doesn't take long to look around the playoffs this year and see players that are doing well with other teams.  Pitchers and position players.  We are great at criticizing......the wrong players.  our players do not seem to get better once they reach the big show, especially infielders and pitchers.  Numerous examples of that happening in other successful orgs.

 

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18 hours ago, h2oface said:

I don't know that being drafted #5 overall means all that much,..... as I have vivid memories of 2013s #4 pick - Kohl Stewart, and 2015s #6, Tyler Jay. Hype fades fast at times.

Baseball has probably the lowest level of success for players drafted in any/all positions, thus, huge failures of even the highest picks are common.  The good news is that, 1) he was a college player, not high school who are much younger and a greater risk; 2) he came out of the toughest conference (SEC) in which to be successful; and 3) he wasn't drafted by the Twins, who admittedly have made some blunders with their high picks the last decade or two or three.

But getting someone who was #5 overall is a huge get as I see it.  Throw in SWR who was playing in AA ball as a 20-year old and the trade looks awfully good, in my ole eyes.  Granted, neither may ever play an inning for the Twins, but considering both are already successful at AA one making it as a solid regular has a higher likelihood of happening.

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On 11/1/2021 at 3:09 PM, Major League Ready said:

I was about to write basically the exact same thing until I read your post.  I don't really understand the message provided in the OP.  Atlanta took a shot bringing in some guys who all performed at one time or another but were mediocre at best.  Is this what Twins fan want?  This was a prayer that worked out incredibly well?  They did it because it cost them nothing in terms of prospects.   What I see here is fans want to trade for players like Scherzer, Turner, Berrios, Cruz, Baez, and top RPs.  All of those teams failed.  Just like every other year buying (no matter how big) ends up failing at the deadline.  Even in a case like the Cubs, can we say with any real certainty the Cubs would not have won without Chapman?  Did the Royals need to trade away Manea in 2015?  What are the odds they would have won without Zobrist?  So, what's the takeaway here?

I think the takeaway is not to do what the Twins did in 2017. The were a playoff contender and the FO sold at the deadline. If they had strengthen the roster, maybe one of the new players gets hot and wins a series for you.

 

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15 hours ago, KGB said:

I think the takeaway is not to do what the Twins did in 2017. The were a playoff contender and the FO sold at the deadline. If they had strengthen the roster, maybe one of the new players gets hot and wins a series for you.

 

You have a much more optimistic take on their chances in 2017 than I believe was present.  They finished 17 games back.  Cleveland and Houston had 100+ win teams and the Twins were OK offensively but the starting rotation was led by a couple guys (Santana/Berrios) who would be at very best 3s on a real contender.  Their chances were extremely slim in my view and the 2017 Twins and the 2021 Braves are not comparable teams so the premise we should have been buyers at the 2017 deadline is not what I would takeaway from this discussion.

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