Medlen hurt, Braves now paying for doing nothing (updated)

Braves will seek a second opinion before determining whether Kris Medlen needs Tommy John surgery again.

The Braves' Kris Medlen might need a second Tommy John surgery. (AP photo)

The Braves’ Kris Medlen might need a second Tommy John surgery. (AP photo)

(Updated: 1:45 p.m.)

A lot has been made of the fact that the suddenly free-spending Braves spent nearly $300 million dollars on contract extensions for five members of the team’s young core, an achievement for which general manager Frank Wren deserves to be commended.

But lost amid all of the parades and confetti over the signings of Julio Teheran, Freddie Freeman and others was a simple fact: Wren did nothing of significance in the offseason to acquire talent and improve the team from 2013.

If you wondered whether the decision to not add a top-of-the-rotation pitcher even before arms started exploding in spring training, how precarious is the situation now?

We’ll learn soon if Kris Medlen, the Braves’ expected opening day starter and easily their best pitcher since being moved from the bullpen in 2012, is done for the season. Even if that’s not the case, he likely will be shelved for a while. An MRI on Medlen’s right elbow showed “involvement of the ligament,” Wren said Tuesday, which is convoluted way of saying: “It’s damaged.”

The extent of Medlen’s injury, suffered early in a spring training start against New York, can’t yet be determined. That’s because he’s already had Tommy John surgery once (2010) and the resulting scar tissue from that makes it difficult to quickly decipher whether a second surgery is needed. So, he’ll get a second opinion. But for what it’s worth, Braves reliever Jonny Venters went through this same exercise and wound up having to go through a second elbow reconstruction. So that’s the unofficial betting favorite.

Welcome to your 2014 Braves’ nightmare. In March.

Wren can’t assume Medlen is going to be fine. He can’t assume Brandon Beachy (elbow stiffness; pitched only five games in 2013 after surgery). He can’t assume Mike Minor (shoulder stiffness) is going to be fine.

That’s three of the top four starters. The other, 23-year-old Julio Teheran, is the relative staff ace now and the likely No. 1 starter on opening day.

(Expected bottom-of-the-rotation starter Gavin Floyd, who had Tommy John surgery last May, also will start the season on the disabled list. But I didn’t make a big deal about Floyd when the Braves got him so I won’t start now.)

Feeling confident?

Wren could not have done anything in the offseason to prevent the injuries to the pitching staff. But his decision to not spend money or assets to acquire a top-of-the-rotation starter now is coming back to bite him.

The problem now is other teams are generally done making major moves. Every other general manager knows the Braves are desperate. Wren will ask for a pitcher; they’ll ask for a private island.

“It’s worrisome, let’s put it that way,” Wren said at the team’s spring training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. “We still feel like we have the makings of a very good pitching staff, but you need depth at this level, because you just never know what’s going to happen, and we’ve seen that over the last two days, how your depth can go to a shortage. And so we’re evaluating, we’re exploring other opportunities, and that’s all we can do at this point.”

Ervin Santana, a talented but erratic free agent pitcher, has been central to speculation the last few days. Santana has had contract talks with Toronto and Baltimore, among others.

Should the Braves pursue Santana? Yes. Do I believe they will? Not really. Wren doesn’t like taking what he perceives as an expensive risk. (Santana’s potential cost:  price: $14 million for one year; $50 million for four.).

Wren likely will operate as he has in the past. He’ll act calm. He’ll go through the first month or so of the season and then take a temperature of his team and others in the National League East.

But with the injuries to the starting rotation, the Braves are not nearly the team they were before spring. They’re weakened. If Wren had added another arm in the winter, the situation wouldn’t be nearly as dire.

Recent ramblings on Braves …
— Blog: Braves’ rotation can’t afford Medlen’s loss
— MyAJC ($): McDowell has been guide for Braves’ young pitchers
— Blog: Braves’ Medlen to shave head for charity
–MyAJC ($) Can Teheran, young rotation carry Braves?
— MyAJC ($): Jason Heyward’s time as a Brave could be nearing end
— Blog: Kimbrel gets new deal — and closer’s value should be obvious
— Blog: Poll time: Can Braves’ Uggla or Upton turn it around? (vote)
— MyAJC ($): Dan Uggla: ‘I was a mess’ last season
— MyAJC ($): Braves about to find out if no move was right move
Recent ramblings on other stuff…
— MyAJC ($): Gregory says Tech needs to be tougher next season
— MyAJC ($): Nobody’s laughing at Ron Hunter, Georgia State now
— Blog: Denver to cut Champ Bailey, should Falcons cut him?
— MyAJC ($): Any use of ‘N’ word by athletes disrespects history
— Blog: Will a Georgia school get NCAA bid? Here are odds
— MyAJC ($): Hawks’ season unravels — does anybody care?
— Blog: Inaction shows Hawks care more about future than current collapse
— MyAJC ($): Georgia on the right side of drug issue
— MyAJC ($): Mark Fox deserves to return for Georgia

Reader Comments 0

52 comments
HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

BOOOOOOOOOOO! 


Getting an early start on what already become a disastrous season.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Sometimes I think sports writers are complete idiots....at other times, they confirm it. They are masters at hindsight.

Assume Medlen was not a Brave but a free agent looking for a big contract(and he would have been, eventually) So the Braves signed him as their 'ACE" (Ace is a term sportswriters like to use) As it would stand now, the Braves would have signed a $14million a year pitcher whose arm blew out in spring training. It can happen to any pitcher, at any time. Assume again that the Braves signed 5 additional starters to go with the 5 they already had. Eight of them go down with arm problems in spring.....what would the sports writers write about now? They should have signed 5 more starters?? I realize sports writers like to stir things up, and criticize GM's decisions, that's the way they make their living, but sometimes they are just idiots. They are like my ex-wife used to be when giving me directions to an unknown(to me) location...."You should have exited back there"  After I already passed the exit!


Yeah! Hindsight is always 20/20 and sports writers would have you believe that they knew the outcome before it happened.



Brent1011
Brent1011

According to ESPN and CBSsports, the Braves have signed Ervin Santana to a 1 year 14M deal.  The official announcement will come this morning. 

reallygroovy
reallygroovy

maybe they caN FIND GUYS LIKE ben sheets, tommy hanson, there are older guys out there that they can get cheap, and do patch work till medlen and beachy are ready

reallygroovy
reallygroovy

the Atlanta braves once again in frank wrens hands , blew it they had a lot of money and did nothing to make this team better SO YOU REAP WHAT YOU SO .

DawgWhisperer
DawgWhisperer

Sometimes I think that you think your job is to exacerbate the negative. All teams will experience injuries to top flight personnel in a very long season. Since you know so much about football and baseball, I suggest you give up your gig with the AJC and pursue a GM job somewhere (preferably on the left coast).

DawgWhisperer
DawgWhisperer

Schultzie... don't get you underwear in a wad. The season hasn't started and you're all gloom and doom.

SunDropMan
SunDropMan

With the way things are going, if I had a ticket to the Braves first home game of the season, I think I would check under my seat to see if there were any sticks of dynamite or some other explosive taped under there. Don't think the Braves can wait to get away from the "Turner Field Curse" and get on over to Cobb Field.  They may start slowly demolishing TF a little bit at a time.

Calel
Calel

What are Glavine and Smoltz doing?

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

Jeff

Another one of your pointing the finger articles that serve no purpose but to confirm that you are an overpaid hack.  I believe you were one of the many that were screaming for the Braves to sign Medlen long term during the off season and I'm sure you have written an article or two about all the bad free agent signings Frank Wren has made so now you want to complain that he didn't over pay for a pitcher.  Why not leave the Braves to their beat writers and go on vacation for a few months.  


SunDropMan
SunDropMan

@BRAVES2143  You know not of which you speaketh !  Finally JS is someone who tells it like it REALLY is, and doesn't sugarcoat it.  All is not rainbows and lollipops like many like to believe. It's just a different year with the same old crap ! 

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

Wren doesn't always act calm.  Back in 09, he missed on trading for Jake Peavy then missed on signing AJ Burnett.  He then went into full panic mode and threw handfuls at money to Derek Lowe.  HOWEVER, with that being said, I don't see this as one of those panic situations.  Santanta's price is probably too steep for the Braves to bite one, but I'd be surprised if Wren didn't atleast wait until the end of ST to see how Garcia, Wood, and Hale look before making a final decision.

RangeRover
RangeRover

"Wren doesn’t like taking what he perceives as an expensive risk."  So, Upton, with his abysmal batting average wasn't an "expensive risk?"


Jeff,


Just returning from an island after about 5 years?

Rick_C
Rick_C

@RangeRover  Regardless of BJ's low AVG and OBP, no he was not a big risk.  His numbers were very consistent, and his body type and age were good.

JAFO_
JAFO_

@Rick_C @RangeRover


right, regardless. not a big risk? 5/75 for this payroll? the geritol crowd killing you bro


Rick_C
Rick_C

@JAFO_ Look, you can argue whether his numbers were worth the contract or not.  But he was not a huge risk for the reasons I outlined.  Two different things.

GA Highlanders
GA Highlanders

JT is right. Fans and apparently columnists think ''make a move'' means that any team that needs a top-notch starting pitcher can just go out and get one. If you're a mid-market team, you have two choices - develop your own and hope they produce and stay healthy, or over-pay for somebody. Given the 2014 payroll, it didn't make sense to pay $12 million on a pitcher when the projected starting rotation looked as it did in January.

JTGrace
JTGrace

They didn't need any starting pitching over the winter so I'm not sure exactly what Wren was supposed to do.  He couldn't have predicted that Medlen, Minor AND Beachy would have health problems. The only top of the rotation pitcher supposedly available was David Price and I doubt the Braves even had the prospects to make that happen.  He wasn't traded to anyone so that should tell you the Rays asking price for him.  The Cubs asked for Jason Heyward or Justin Upton for Jeff Samardzija. 

So, again, what exactly should Wren have done????  It's easy to play the hindsight game.

SaulK
SaulK

no big deal--the braves have too many gaps to win anything anyway. 

Mixxo
Mixxo

75 wins are nothing to sneeze at.............right?  ☻

SunDropMan
SunDropMan

I said the Braves would pay for it dearly.  Now where are all the "idjits" that said "no problem, all will be fine" !  All of you who did would make great GM's, like Wren.  I predicted 3rd place, now may have to re-think that. 

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

Go Falcons!!, ...wait,what? where am I?

joop
joop

Maybe it's just me, but I originally interpreted the headline as "Braves now paying Medlen for doing nothing."  Glad that's not the intent.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Agree Jeff...glad someone from ajc  is  speaking up.  To some reporters  and fans Braves can do no wrong.

SunDropMan
SunDropMan

@Rick_C @58Supersports   Didn't seem to "cost them too much" to sign all the young regulars.  Guess pitching is not all that important huh?  Braves have been reactive rather than proactive the last few years, and always pay for it.  

Rick_C
Rick_C

@58Supersports  No, it's just being able to recognize that the market for "aces" was extremely thin, and would likely have cost the Braves too much in terms of players/prospects and/or money.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@FarTrain There's an important difference.  Those players were all pre-arb or first year arb, so they accordingly back loaded the contracts.  The big dollars in the deals don't start to kick in for several years, at which point they expect to have a higher payroll to accommodate for it.

Rick_C
Rick_C

 Much like they can’t assume Mike Minor (shoulder stiffness) is going to be fine.

Medlen and Beachy are certainly a concern, but just a bit of an overreaction here.  He's just behind in his work.

RogerHenslee
RogerHenslee

@Rick_C the braves offseason moves were to get better by subtracting one of their best players(Brain M) and loosing their best setup man.  Sorry, I don't see it.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@FarTrain Yes, two or three spring training outings with less than a full start's worth of IP is definitely adequate to evaluate a 2 year contract.  Come on...

SunDropMan
SunDropMan

@Rick_C @FarTrain    We shall see soon enough !  SF and the Oakland A's will battle it out in the WS this year.

Cousingeorgestone
Cousingeorgestone

Let's make a clear distinction here.   Of course Wren could not have anticipated a sudden severe injury to Medlen BUT, he could have and should have made a contingency plan in anticipation of Beachy not being ready AND he should have anticipated SOMEBODY on the pitching staff coming up lame, it happens every year with this staff!   Is it the water, the training, JOBU?  Or is it,  in the immortal words of Dean Wormer,   Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode.  And every spring, another Braves pitcher blows out his elbow.

JAFO_
JAFO_

@Cousingeorgestone


Another zero point zero zero playoff series win. at least the little yellow flag will look nice in left.

slydawg
slydawg

Who's going to shave their head for Medlen?

slydawg
slydawg

And I repeat from yesterday:


Someone in the front office pulled a Dimitroff: Roster arrogance.... Instead of trading one of these MASH unit members for David Price AND paying him, the team chose to dig in, spend $280 mil on not getting any better. Now you're stuck with retreading someone else's garbage off the scrap heap.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@slydawg  You mean someone like say Justin Upton?  The Rays would only be trading Price for salary relief.  Why would they trade him for another pricey player?

rgbutterfly
rgbutterfly

I believe that the Braves will trade Heyward soon for a pitcher(s).

Delusionaldog
Delusionaldog

While the cause was noble, the shaved head threw off his balance. Damn.

FrankieB
FrankieB

If my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle. 

SunDropMan
SunDropMan

@FrankieB    Not necessarily !  We know only one thing for sure.  She would be a member of the LTWEQCADFXZBVPOIUMKJKHGBVCM gang.

labo2000
labo2000

The ultimate "hindsight" column if I've ever seen one.  So had we given up the farm for David Price, we'd have three healthy starters instead of two.  I think that would still qualify as "being in this situation" of having multiple young starters on the shelf. 


And after Price inevitably left after two seasons, we would no doubt be forced by Schultz to read his opinions about the success of all these young guys in Tampa who were once thought to be cogs of the Braves system, much like the any number of articles still harping on the Teixeira trade of yesteryear... 

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@labo2000

Got to co-sign on this post labo! It is about time that we see what these young guys have. They are in the majors for a reason right?  Other teams allow the young starters to jump in the pool and pitch. Only real game situations will show what they have. Cant spend the farm on one pitcher or one player ( still paying for that Mark Tex deal to this day). I remember a team back in the days that started a whole crop of young guys and let them pitch; some team in the early 90's and 2 of those guys are 1st ballot HOF. Lets see what the deal is before we kick dirt on the Braves and watch how it plays out.

SunDropMan
SunDropMan

@Rick_C @labo2000     Why worry?   The Braves always come out "smelling like roses".  Yeh,  right  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!