Former Atlanta Brave Todd Cunningham: A Modern Pastime Interview

NOTE: You can read an expanded and edited version of this interview over at Tomahawk Take, where I also write these days (Part 1 here, Part 2 here ). Mandatory Credit for Lead Image: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

I recently caught up with Todd Cunningham, on his way out the door if you will. Todd was claimed on waivers by the Angels, so it was pretty humbling to be perhaps his last Braves-oriented interview before he takes off. Almost as if I’d snuck in a door I wasn’t normally allowed. Anyway, this is about Todd Cunningham, so out with it.

Here, unedited and unabridged, is our conversation via Twitter direct message:

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Why the Short-Term Deal, Yo(enis)?

[Lead Image courtesy of Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images, featuring Cespedes after winning 2013 HR Derby]

Yoenis Cespedes just signed a deal. Finally.

I shouldn’t assume a negative tone about the prolonged wait, because it’s given baseball writers word count fodder for a few weeks while not much was going on. Just the same, it was an odd radio silence in terms of rumors surrounding the player until it ramped up in the last couple of days.

cespedes hat nydaily news father

Kathy Willens/AP

You won’t be burdened with a lot of contract details in this piece that you can’t find in more depth elsewhere. Instead, let’s take a look at the strategy that seems implicit to this deal for Cespedes, and the growing trend of opt-outs in free agent deals.

Generally, players that are in high demand in free agency look for a long term deal to lock in as many wheel barrows of guaranteed money as possible. This is particularly true for free agents that are closer in age to Yoenis (30) than the, say Jason Heyward (26). The reasoning seems pretty clear here; if you’re older, it is riskier to bet on your skill set staying with you long enough to secure a lucrative deal the next time contract negotiations come around.

So why would Cespedes settle for 3 years, particularly being that he had a 5 year deal on the table from the Nationals? [more on those “other teams” below… we know what you’re thinking, Braves Country.] Read More

You Should Be Excited For Braves Baseball

Let’s start 2016 off with some positivity, shall we?

2015 was largely a frustrating year for #BravesCountry. Though arguably it went very well if you look at the larger picture, I can’t fault people for not throwing parades for a successful rebuilding year. In 2016 the Braves are still a team in rebuilding mode and there is cause for concern of a repeat of last year, but I think the hard part is behind us and 2016 will be an exciting time for the Atlanta Braves organization and its fans. Now I’m not going to go full homer on you and say that the Braves are going to win or even compete for the NL East in 2016, but I think Atlanta will field a team at the major league level who will be fun to watch and competitive in a lot of games.

Much of my reason for excitement is demonstrated in a piece released earlier this month by Baseball Prospectus, Top 10 list for the Braves farm system. I highly recommend clicking the link, as it includes much more than just a prospect ranking. The top 10 list is as follows: Read More

Upton Signs: Braves Real(er) Contenders for Cespedes?

[Lead Image retrieved here, from the Michael Baron blog “Just Mets”]

Many reading this will realize that the Braves have been part of the rumor mill emanating from Yoenis Cespedes’ prolonged Free Agency. This seemed like empty clamor at first, and undoubtedly still seems that way to many. I won’t recount what has been sufficiently covered in the Braves-o-spere about the Cespedes rumors. I will say that I have not been alone as a writer who views these rumors as more than a pipe dream (or at least as a really delightful one). Alan Carpenter at Tomahawk Take presented a well crafted view against being dismissive of the rumors here.

Before I get to the Upton bit, let me just put my own persuasion on taking the Cespedes rumors without toooooo much salt. My argument can be summed up thusly: Read More

Rebuild Reflection: KJ Reunion Signals a Less Tank-ish 2016?

[lead image retrieved here]

The Braves have gone out and made a Feel-Good-Pick-Up that seems to be worth a pleasant chuckle in re-re-welcoming Kelly Johnson to Atlanta. As most reading this are aware, KJ was one of the “Baby Braves,” a group of young, homegrown players that reached Atlanta circa 2005, ushering in hope for sustained success in Braves Country. The now utility man didn’t last all that long as a Brave and didn’t have all that much success while he was one, but many fans were nostalgic and pleased when he returned to the roster last off season. Many were then displeased when he was shipped out with Juan Uribe to the rival Mets mid 2015, being that Johnson was having a pretty productive year. Now KJ is back. And here we are feeling pretty good again. Like I said, worth a chuckle. Right?


This should be self-explanatory. [Columbia Pictures]

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