Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dark Horse to Ride a White Horse???

Out of left-field (actually that infield spot just in front of left field otherwise known as 3rd base) comes Troy Glaus, signing a 1 year deal with the Braves to add real power potential to the middle of the line up. The 33 year old righty missed most of last season with right shoulder surgery.

Glaus has averaged 36 HRs per year when playing 149+ games (7 of his 11 seasons). If he's healthy this could be a great move, details of the deal have not been reported.

The soup is always better the second day...

Like that Jambalaya you leave in the fridge overnight allowing the spices to really soak in, this deal with Vazquez for Melky is getting better after 24 hours of thought.

First, Vazquez is coming off the best season of his career. He's never been a Cy Young contender, but his performance this year won over many a Braves fan. Emotions were high, but so was the Vazquez price tag. Buy low, sell high. Last year, Wren picked up Vazquez for $11.5/yr coming off a shaky term with the White Sox. This year, Wren trades Vazquez after the best year of his career, with nowhere to go but down. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe last year was just a precursor of what's to come out of Vazquez, but he's 33 not 26, I'd say the odds are in the Braves' favor. Nice job Frank Wren, A- in Investing 101.

Next, Wren has indicated he's not expecting Melky be our offensive answer (that's a relief), but be more of a utility-type outfielder "giving Diaz (and others) a break" but not necessarily taking their job. The club needs at least 4 outfielder, plus an Infante utility man that can play anywhere, and before yesterday those 4 were McClouth, Diaz, Heyward, and Greg White (f/k/a Gregor Blanco). Melky does fit into this mix, and helps the club knowing that he isn't viewed as the answer.

Finally, the prospects are pretty impressive! Vizcaino is young (19) but has huge upside and Dunn is a ++ lefty, struggling to find his control. Both average more than 9 K's per 9! Dunn will be a rookie if he's able to make the club out of Spring Training (he made just 4 big league appearances last year), and he's got potential to be a solid back-end bullpen guy. But the real promise is with Vizcaino.

If the prospects develop, this deal has the potential to be as good as the deal 2 years ago sending Edgar Renteria (after hitting .336) to Detroit for little known Jair Jurrjens.

Also, it seems news is heating up about the potential of bringing 30 homerun promise Dan Uggla to Atlanta, though this seems to be coming more from bloggers and sports talk radio, of course nothing out of the Braves beat writers or PR department.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bye Bye Vazquez... REALLY?

Not sure I like this deal, but only time will tell. is reporting that the Braves are near reaching a deal with the Yankees to trade Vazquez and Boon Logan, for Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and a prospect.

After last year, I think we all hate to see Vazquez go, but he hasn't had a great history of back-to-back solid years. As he returns to the AL (where he's not had much success), we'll likely see a year that makes the Braves look good in the end.

Melky is serviceable, with "potential," but he hits about .275 without much power (13 HR). He played center for the Yanks last year, but will likely move to left for the Braves and prolong the delay of Jason Heyward's debut. Melky is a switch hitter that will likely fill the 2 or 8 hole in the lineup.

Boon Logan for Mike Dunn is likely a wash (LHP for LHP) and bullpen pitchers are always hit or miss.

It does free up some salary room, so maybe the Braves are able to sign a $10 million bat. But, it fills up the outfield, so it looks like we'll have to look for a right handed first baseman, those are NOT easy to find. I think Mark Bowman is probably right. Expect to hear a Xavier Nady signing in the coming weeks, and that will complete the team that the Braves take to Spring Training, lagging far behind the Phils.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Short End of the Stick... AGAIN

When offering arbitration to former closers Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, the Braves expected to receive 2 first round draft picks and 2 sandwich picks when they each signed as free agents. First Soriano stuck to 'em by unexpected accepting his arbitration offer, forcing the Braves into a trade situation. While I like that the Braves were able to pick up Jesse Chavez in the deal, he comes at a high price; essentially costing them both Soriano and the two picks they would've gotten had Soriano gone the free agent route.

Today Gonzalez has reached a deal to sign with the Orioles, as their closer. While this offer does bring the sting of Soriano accepting arbitration, the Braves still aren't getting what they expected. Because the O's are terrible and therefore have one of the first 15 picks of next years draft, they don't have to give that up for signing the Type A free agent, Gonzo. In stead, the Braves will receive a sandwich pick and the O's second round draft pick.

Sure would be nice for Wren to go make a deal that would ease the salt-on-the-wound pain of these most recent transactions.

Knee-Jerk Reaction? Too Late to Fix It.

Derek Lowe is as good as gone. Though there is no news that the Braves have found a suitor, it appears the damage is done and now the Braves have to trade Lowe, and Lowe alone. That's great news for those of us that love Vazquez, but could be bad news for how the Braves come out in this deal.

Frank Wren has made it no secret that he wanted to move a pitcher to make room for a bat (preferrably a BIG bat, though there appear to only be MEDIUM-sized bats available). But in expressing the need to move a pitcher, Lowe in particular, the media, Mark Bowman in particular, have made Derek's 15 win season sound more like a 5 win disaster. This article, and the accompanying video, illustrate my point.

You'll also notice Derek is none-too-happy with the Braves' lack of communication through this process. From his language (perhaps a bit whinny) it appears that the damage is done. Lowe's not happy with the Braves, the Braves aren't happy with Lowe and in the end... Lowe goes back to LA, only in the American League this time. We get no value out of TLAAOA (The Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem). And we're stuck with a sizeable chunk of the salary that we we're trying to shed.

If that is the total of the damage, I won't be that upset. The problem is, isn't this reaction a little rash? Lowe had a 15-win season, with 2 months of poor mechanics that caused his ERA to balloon. Less than a year ago we thought he was an ace, worthy of $16M/yr for 4 years. He's eating his innings, despite his struggles, and by the way... HE PRODUCED 15 WINS! If 5 of his 13 "tragic" starts go the other way, thanks to fixing whatever mechanic issue was causing the trouble, we're talking about a 20-5 season and the best investment in recent Braves history.

Admittedly, I'm playing a bit of a "devil's advocate" role here. I think the Braves probably do need to move Lowe, even more so now that the damage is done. But the way it appears to be going down, I just can't see the Braves being the winner in this deal.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Trading proves difficult

Wren faced a deadline over the weekend, and unable to trade Kelly Johnson before it came and went. The end result: Kelly Johnson is essentially "released."

GM's had to decide this weekend whether to offer contracts (arbitration) to the players they controlled, or let them become free agents. Frank Wren and the Braves determined not to offer contracts to Kelly Johnson or Ryan Church (who they'd designated for assignment last week). Essentially this means the Braves were not willing to pay Johnson the close to $3 million he'd likely earn in arbitration to be a backup, and they don't forsee him being an everyday player on their roster this year. Ryan Church didn't have much chance, he proved to another team that he couldn't stay healthly enough help make a push.

What this means:

Great news for Prado. Looks like the Braves are committed to letting him play everyday (and all braves fans collectively... FINALLY).

Jeff Francouer has a chance to make the Braves look foolish. With the release of Church, Wren and the Braves have nothing to show for letting this potential superstar go. Whether he'll return to more consistent days remains to be seen.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Before this week's winter meetings, the Braves signed closer Billy Wagner and late reliever Takashi Saito. They also offered arbitration to last year's closers Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano. Undoubtedly the Frank Wren was not expecting either to accept the arbitration offer, which would have put the Braves in permission to receive 2 compensation draft picks for each of them when they signed with another club as free agents. To their surprise, Soriano accepted arbitration, and immediately requested a trade understanding that the Braves did not intend to use him as a closer. So Wren waived his magic wand, shed some payroll and former closer Jesse Chavez appeared in our bullpen.

All-in-all I'd grade Wren an A, with the understanding that there is still work to be done. We replaced two solid closers (thought not exactly automatics) that were going to demand a LOT of coin this off-season, with 3 former closers, one of which has hall-of-fame potential and was throwing great after coming off Tommy John surgery last year. The Braves pen sets up nice with Chavez and Moylan (who should be 100% now) in the 7th, Saito in the 8th, and Wagner closing it out. If we run into trouble, all of them have some experience closing games, so it shouldn't be a problem to find a fix. Medlen will still be available in long relief (unless he's traded). With these changes, the Braves, who had a pretty solid pitching staff last year, may have the best staff in the National League this year (Assuming Philly doesn't get Halladay in a trade!)

The work still to be done:

It's no secret the Braves are looking for a BIG right handed bat. They were doing so last year when they pursued Ken Griffey, Jr, and finally signed Garrett Anderson (ATTENTION MR. WREN: THOSE GUYS ARE BOTH LEFT HANDED AND NEITHER QUALIFIES AS A BIG BAT ANY MORE!). Right handed power is hard to find. There are really no 30+ HR Righties on the Free Agent market. But there are a few options:

1. Jermaine Dye- Former Brave, free agent pretty solid outfielder and righty bat, but he'd be a fill-in, he's probably a bit costly, and he's getting old. (still my second favorite option).

2. Miquel Cabera- Big bat, when he's on, but a big contract to go with it. It'd take a trade with the Tiger, and they probably want a lot in return. (Not a likely option).

3. Dan Uggla- my personal favorite option- 30+ HR for 4 consecutive years, right handed bat, familiar with NL east pitching, and an easy trade. Florida is looking to move him. Offer: Kelly Johnson and a second tier prospect. Make Prado your everyday 1st baseman. Uggla will play 2nd, and hit 4th against lefties, 5th against righties (behind McCann). Still need to pick up Mike Cameron or Marlon Byrd (as they've been discussing) to aid the outfield.

Picking up Uggla and Byrd, with this stacked pitching staff would make the Braves the favorite in the NL east (again assuming Philly doesn't make a deal for Halladay). If Philly does trade for Halladay, perhaps we tuck our tale, take our ball, and go home?