Let the speculation begin!

SI.com – MLB – Maddux, Millwood file for free agency – Wednesday October 29, 2003 6:48PM

Also contains a list of all the other players who have filed so far. Just running down some players the Braves might have an interest in, or with Braves connections:

BJ Surhoff, Sandy Alomar, Bartolo Colon, Tony Graffanino, Terry Mulholland, Mark Wohlers, Raul Ibanez, Joe Randa, Michael Tucker, Rondell White, LaTroy Hawkins, David Wells, Mike Cameron, Rey Sanchez, Kelvim Escobar, Greg Myers, Steve Reed, Chris Stynes, Chad Fox, Ugie Urbina, Brad Ausmus, Robin Ventura, Fred McGriff, Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Jordan (who’s probably done), Eddie Perez, Fernando Tatis, Todd Zeile, Todd Pratt, Turk Wendell, Kelly Stinett, Reggie Sanders, Russ Springer, Sidney Ponson. I figure they need a third baseman, a backup catcher, and one or two outfielders (depending on Sheffield), plus pitchers.

26 thoughts on “Let the speculation begin!”

  1. I live up in Minny, so I got to see/watch a lot of Hawkins from the beginning. I don’t know what he will command and there is speculation that Steinbrenner will blow up the market for the guy, but he has been a good set-up guy for the Twinks. He failed miserably as both a starter and closer, so I would caution against signing him with an assumption that he can close.

    When I see Chad Fox’s name, I always remember the Ligtenberg/Fox debate on the old AA board the year those guys came up way back when. Fox is a survivor, but even watching him be somewhat effective for the Marlins this past year, I don’t know if I would want him.

    The only other thing that registers to me from the list is the realization of how many bodies have passed through the Braves’ clubhouse over the last few years.

  2. Just guessing… I think they’ll re-sign Sheffield, because King George will go all-out for Guerrero. First base will be LaRoche and Julio. That leaves third base and catcher. As a guess… Bobby’s always liked Stynes. Eddie Perez had a good year and obviously has his fans in the organization. For one year contracts, they wouldn’t be the worst thing that the Braves could do.

  3. A few thoughts:

    1. Myers did sign with Toronto.

    2. I’ve heard Braves players and announcers say good things about Stynes and he’s a serviceable enough player, but I’ve also heard he’s a world-class redass who wears out his welcome rather quickly (who does that sound like? Robert Fick, maybe?…)

    3. Eddie Perez would make sense as the new/old backup catcher, although Atlanta would probably wait until a final decision on Maddux before signing him, and by that time, it might be too late to get him.

    4. Ventura may be this year’s guy-the-Braves-have-always-wanted-but-is-now-in-the-twilight-of-his-career that they bring in just about every year. Sometimes those guys surprise you, but more often than not you get Wally Joyner, Bobby Bonilla or Paul Byrd.

    5. Please, Mr. Schuerholz, avoid Jordan at all costs … no matter what Terrence Moore writes.

  4. Bonilla was .255/.356/.397 off the bench in 2000. Not great, but as a switch-hitter off the bench, you can do a lot worse, and the Braves have.

    Of course I’m biased for Bonilla because I remember more vividly his early season success than I do his late decline. The nature of the beast, I suppose.

  5. I don’t think we have to wait too long to know what is going to happen with Maddux. My memory is that the Braves have to decide on whether to offer arbitration by November 30. If they do, which I doubt, then Maddux will very likely accept and he is guaranteed to be a Brave. If they don’t I’m pretty sure they can not sign him before May 15, which means he is gone. The most likely way Maddux stays is to sign as a free agent before 11/30. I doubt we go through the same game as last year. So the Maddux decision is made in the next 30 days. I think I have the dates right (although 11/30 is a Sunday so maybe they push it back to 12/1). Can anybody confirm my dates?

  6. Point well taken Andrew, but I don’t think the Braves had a .397 slugging in mind when they brought Bonilla in.

    And before others write in to defend Ventura, his batting averages the last four years have been .232, .237, .247, .242. I realize batting averages are highly overrated, but they are a good indication of bat speed (or lack thereof). Just look at Rickey Henderson.

  7. To be honest Creg I’m not sure what the Braves were expecting when they brought in Bonilla. My memory for those type of details only extends to the 2001 season.

    I think one of the reasons I remember Bonilla so highly is because he was so bad in 99 and Mets’ fans just hated him.

  8. Here’s some blasphemy…

    Let’s sign Mike Cameron and move andruw to right. oh yeah. its really not that ridiculous of an idea, if cameron were open to signing with the braves.

  9. Let’s hope Chipper is amenable to moving to 3B — if so, Schuerholz will have extra flexibility in pursuing a key FA.

    If not, he’ll have to pursue Vinny or a similar stiff: Ventura, Graffanino, Randa, Stynes, Tatis or Zeile. I seriously doubt we’ll see Marte or DeRo there in 04.

    Graffy wouldn’t be that bad, but then why not just go with DeRo.

  10. Batting averages can be overrated, but when they are that low, they are saying something. And I’m afraid what they are saying isn’t all that good for Ventura.

  11. Batting averages do matter. But, I wonder if the Braves ought to still look at Brad Ausmus (if available). They may not be able to keep Javy and the combination of Ausmus/Estrada would at least be a defensive upgrade. Also, Ausmus might be positive presence in the clubhouse and it might even entice Maddux to stay at a reasonable cost. Finally, I agree with the above comments on Brian Jordan and I think that it also holds for Tucker and, of course, Reggie Sanders.

  12. Who gives a rats ass about a “positive clubhouse presence” Stephen? That is why Bobby Cox is there. I’ll take a player who can get on base over someone who is just a “clubhouse presence” any day.

  13. Ausmus sucks. Tucker sucks. Jordan sucks… Jeez, sensing a trend. Vinny sucks. Ventura sucks, but he would at least give the Braves a good glove and much-needed lefty power.

  14. The Braves can have Ausmus when they pry him from Biggio and Bagwell’s cold, dead fingers. Want to know one reason why the Astros can’t get over the hump? Because management lets the Killer B’s pick their teammates.

    Bags and Bigg whined from the moment the Astros traded Ausmus to Detroit to get him back (which they did two years later). And they damn near staged a strike when Brian Hunter (the bad one) was released last year.

    Then again, Ausmus could be the only guy in the big leagues who could give the Braves the exact same production they got from Henry Blanco…

  15. I don’t like any of those choices. If we can’t sign Vlad or Sheff then go for Shannon Stewart. He adds speed, defense, and doesn’t strikeout. He would allow us to bat Furcal second, Giles fifth, and Andruw fourth (where his numbers are ungodly).

  16. Stewart is not a good defensive player. He’s a bad one despite his speed, like Roger Cedeno. And he has no arm, so Chipper would have to play right (if the Braves don’t move him back to third and sign another outfielder) so the defense would take a severe hit in a more important spot. He’ll be wildly overpaid because he played well (against inferior competition) down the stretch. And by all accounts he’s one of those guys who thinks he’s better than he really is. Pass.

  17. I can’t believe people still seroiusly talk about Chipper moving back to third. He’s gotten to the point where he’s overmatched in left field most nights, he’s not moving to a more difficult position. It’s a pipe dream. (Althought for the Braves pitchers it would be more like a pipe nightmare.)

  18. Au contraire, Bert. I would bet that Schuerholz now considers Chipper a stronger possibility at 3B than at any time since he moved to OF.

    He’s clearly below-average defensively, but offensive skills come more frequently at the OF corners than at 3B. And most everyone, including Chipper, can play a passable LF.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen. There are many more worse options than good. The last time the Braves signed a 3B they overpaid (Vinny $8 mil, two years) but didn’t get burned as bad as they could have.

  19. The problems with moving Chipper back to third:

    1. If Andy Marte is as good as he’s supposed to be, he’ll be in Atlanta in 2005 and Chipper would have to move again.

    2. Hampton and Ramirez would be killed by having a poor glove at third base. Glavine could get away with it because he rarely allowed balls to be pulled down the line, but they don’t have his control.

    The advantage is that you can get another hitter in the lineup. The problem with that is that you already have a vacancy in one outfield corner and after the Vlad/Sheffield pairing the outfield crop of free agents is thin and weak. And nobody in the organization is close to being able to help; Langerhans is a fourth outfielder and the real prospects are further away than Marte. Zeile and Ventura aren’t much, but they’re not much worse hitters than the outfielder the Braves would likely get.

    I don’t think Chipper was as bad of a third baseman as he is a left fielder, but then he was a better shortstop than third baseman, and can you imaging him moving back there? He just doesn’t have third base reflexes or the ability to read fly balls off the bat. He’s a defensive liability anywhere, but if it wasn’t for Marte I’d probably say third base is the best place for him.

  20. I’m pretty sure that given the many other variables the team will have to address, Mark DeRosa will get the third base job.

  21. I can only think of a couple of cases where a Hall-of-Fame type player (which Chipper is) changed positions and then moved back, and both do so within a year. Mike Schmidt moved to first base in 1985, then back to third because Rick Schu was such a bad hitter. And then there was the Carlton Fisk -to-left-field fiasco in Chicago in 1986…

    Are there any others I’m forgetting?

    I agree that Chipper’s not as bad a third baseman as some said, but I just don’t see him moving back. If he moves anywhere, it’ll be to first.

  22. I can only think of a couple of cases where a Hall-of-Fame type player (which Chipper is) changed positions and then moved back, and both do so within a year. Mike Schmidt moved to first base in 1985, then back to third because Rick Schu was such a bad hitter. And then there was the Carlton Fisk -to-left-field fiasco in Chicago in 1986…

    Are there any others I’m forgetting?

    I agree that Chipper’s not as bad a third baseman as some said, but I just don’t see him moving back. If he moves anywhere, it’ll be to first.

  23. Hmm, the first one to come to mind is Hank Greenberg, but he really isn’t at all a good comparable. He starred at 1B, was moved to OF to get Rudy York’s bat into the lineup, went off to fight WWII and came back as a 1B.

    Stan Musial moved back and forth between 1B and the outfield for years. 42-44 OF, 45 WWII, 46-47 1B, 48-49 OF, 50-51 split, 52-54 OF, 55-59 1B, 60-63 OF. Kinda odd for someone with the defensive reputation he had.

    Harmon Killibrew bounced around between LF, 1B and 3B, but never really settled in at any position for more than a year or two in a row.

    Willie McCovey came up as a first baseman, was moved to the OF when Orlando Cepeda came up, and went back to 1B. Cepeda himself bounced back and forth between LF and 1B for a few years at the beginning of his career.

    Carl Yastrzemski was a LF, played a few years at 1B before going back to the OF and then spending his last several seasons bouncing between LF, 1B and (ugh) DH.

    But yeah, most HOF players who move positions, stay put after the move. Robin Yount (SS to CF), Rod Carew (2B to 1B) and Ernie Banks (SS to 1B) are examples. I think Chipper is more likely to move to 1B than back to 3B unless he goes to a more adventerous manager later in his career.

  24. Thanks, Dan. I probably could have come up with a few of those had I thought about it for more than 2 minutes. But most of those mentioned moved not because of their own declining defense, but to get another bat in the lineup. I know Cox said Chipper moved because they signed Castilla, but it was really because Chipper was a real butcher late in the 2001 season.

    Greenberg is an interesting case, though. As I remember reading it, the Tigers tried York at just about every position (even catcher!) but he was so bad they asked Greenberg to move. York was a great hitter, but the modern equivalent would be moving Mark McGwire to left field to get Albert Pujols in the lineup.

  25. Tony Perez came up at first base, moved to third for his first full season, but was back at first four years later.

    Darrell Evans (who should be in the Hall of Fame) spent much of his career bouncing between third and first, with a stop in the outfield. He was mostly a third baseman at the beginning, then mostly a first baseman at the end, but still played some third base (not very well, but probably better than Chipper) as late as his last season.

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