Low-Hanging Fruit: Ryan Church

After Frank Wren went on his used-to-be great closer binge, Rafael Soriano threw a big fat monkey wrench in the Braves’ plans by accepting salary arbitration. Ryan Church is now the scapegoat, as the Braves designated him assignment to make room for Soriano on the 40-man roster.

Ryan Church doesn’t really deserve this, as he’s not a bad ballplayer. Church is your Joe Average outfielder, and I don’t mean that as a knock. The average player, or a player that is good for around two wins is worth about $8-9 million on the free agent market. That’s Ryan Church, at least when he has been able to stay on the field. Church’s trouble is that he has either been blocked by other players or hurt, problems that are no real fault of his own. He suffered through concussions in 2008 and a bad back in 2009.

Assuming he’s healthy, you can bank on Church getting on base at a .340 clip, hit for some moderate power and play excellent defense in the corners. With an unusual paucity for corner outfielders in this free agent market outside of Matt Holliday and a couple of overrated and soon to be overpaid players such as Jason Bay and Johnny Damon, Church could be a decent patch job for a club, and is at worst a first-rate 4th outfielder, all at the price of virtually nothing.

The irony is that Church and Soriano are probably more valuable to the Braves than Wagner and Takashi Saito. It’s not the end of the world for Atlanta; Wren could easily redeem himself with a nice package of prospects for Soriano, but so far this has been one poorly managed start to an offseason for the Braves’ front office.

How do you think Ryan Church will do in 2010? Enter your projection for him here.

We hoped you liked reading Low-Hanging Fruit: Ryan Church by Erik Manning!

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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

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Devon
Guest
Devon

It would be irony if there were any proof that the Braves front office had any sort of clue about more advanced metrics. They are surviving on the strength of their drafting. You look at some of the ridiculous moves they make and the moves they’ll continue to make and you just have to shake your head. If they got a GM who was willing to meld their scouting brilliance with modern metrics they would be a force again.

PWH
Member
PWH

Devon:

It would be irony if there were any proof that the Braves front office had any sort of clue about more advanced metrics. They are surviving on the strength of their drafting. You look at some of the ridiculous moves they make and the moves they’ll continue to make and you just have to shake your head. If they got a GM who was willing to meld their scouting brilliance with modern metrics they would be a force again.

This is simply wrong. The Braves:

a) Employ multiple people for the singular purpose of research and statistical analysis.

b) Use advanced statistical analysis in making all of their transaction decisions.

c) Have their own set of metrics that they’ve created.

d) Employ John Coppolella as their Director of Baseball Administration (essentially the dream job for anyone who frequents this site), who is as good of a saberist as anyone. His input is considered in every decision.

It’s easy to say, “oh, stupid Braves, they should be more like me and read Fangraphs”, but it’s also lazy and wrong. You’re not smarter than the Braves and you don’t know more about sabermetrics than the Braves.

As an aside, I thought the Church situation was handled badly as well. But the Braves probably know something we don’t.

Devon
Guest
Devon

Well fine, you are obviously smarter than I am. Tell me this though, why do they still continue to make stupid, stupid decisions like Garrett Anderson? I don’t think there is a sabermetrician alive who would have signed off on that disaster. So either their office isn’t actually listening to their sabermetrics folk or it’s getting lost in the churn. I’ve seen no evidence from the bulk of their moves that they are on the right side of decisions based on those advanced metrics, whether they are using them or not.