Sunday, December 2, 2012

Atlanta Braves Burn Money, Sign B.J. Upton

Give a General Manager a blank check, and he'll most likely waste it on a player with hype. The Atlanta Braves and B.J. Upton agreed to a five year $75.25 million contract (pending a physical), skewing the market and all but assuring that Michael Bourn will probably now get the $100 million contract that he is seeking. At the same exact moment, Tinker Bell died. Well played Mr. Wren, well played.
(AP) Paid, homey.

It's not Upton's fault. He wasn't going to go into the negotiation and say "I don't know Frank, $75.25 million? you realize that I hit .246 last year right?" B.J. is getting paid and most bloggers will be ecstatic because now we can break out the "overpriced fellatio" jokes that we have been dying to use. So maybe a small amount of thanks is in order on our part. That feeling quickly disappears when the idea of signing an outfielder at some point in the future crosses our minds and we think, "Damnit, Upton got $75.25 mil. What the hell is it going to take next year to sign Carlos Gomez?" 

To be honest, I cared so little about where Upton went this offseason, that when I heard about, it I just shrugged and went on my way. Then i got a text message from my friend Kevin Lappin who writes at LAANGELSINSIDER that said, "Did you know that B.J. Upton had a sub .300 OBP the year before making $75 million?" And, no, I absolutely did not know that. In fact, even though his batting average went up from .243 in 2011 to .246 in 2012, his OBP plummeted from .331 to .298.

This is not the same kid who at the age of 22 set the league on fire with a .300/.386/.508 slash line. Everything about Upton's game (with the exception of home runs) is heading the wrong way. Strikeouts were at a career high, walks were at a career low, his stolen base totals are dropping each year and the fun doesn't end there kids. 18% of all balls put into play by B.J. were of the infield fly variety in 2012. 18 percent. Is there some new way of looking at ball players down in Atlanta that I am not picking up on? Or does Upton have the one agent that is better than Scott Boras when it comes to getting his clients paid?

In the end, B.J. Upton is still an incredible talent, and it is quite possible that he puts it all together. He is after all, only 28. He is also a player that has averaged 2.4 bWAR over the last six years, and to "make his money" on this five year contract, he will need to average 3.3-3.4 bWAR, and that's based on the current "value of a win." Who knows where inflation will take that value in five years. Silver lining, I can finally put the gasoline in my lawnmower to good use since it does me no good now that winter is arriving. Who's bringing the marshmallow's to this bonfire? 

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