Where Do We Go From Here? (VI: Post-Thomson)

The Braves have, roughly speaking, about $20 million left to spend, even with the AOL-mandated budget cuts. There are two lineup spots left open, right field and third base. Now, it would be nice to get two $10 million players, or a $15 million player like Guerrero and a $5 million player, but there are other obligations.

1. Rafael Furcal is arbitration-eligible, and the Braves almost certainly will accept his filing. The team will have to decide whether to give him a long-term deal. I believe Mark DeRosa is also up for arbitration; if he is, the Braves need to reach a settlement with him or find another utility man. (It may be that this figure includes raises for Furcal and others.)

2. They also need to shore up the bullpen, which has at least two and as many as five slots still open.

3. They need to find a backup catcher, and probably a backup infielder, unless Jesse Garcia is to your taste.

So it might be more like $15 million to work with to fill the two spots. Most of the outfield names have been dealt with here already. The most commonly cited are Jacque Jones, Jose Guillen, and Richard Hidalgo. Guillen is an unencumbered free agent, the other two are property of teams that might want to move them. There’s also the possibility of JD Drew of the Cardinals, if as rumored they non-tender him.

What about third base? There simply aren’t any quality third basemen on the market, and the Braves might not want to commit to someone long-term anyway. So either they sign someone like Ventura or Zeile to a short-term deal… Or they move Chipper back to third until Marte is ready and get two outfielders, one of whom is up for free agency next year.

I didn’t think this was likely coming in to this offseason. Chipper seems reluctant to move back anyway, and turning him into almost a utility guy (this year he’s at third, next outfield, then first base…) would be unusual for a team’s highest paid player.

But what do we keep hearing? Outfielders, nothing but outfielders, plus a few feelers about first basemen from people who don’t think LaRoche is the answer. There are so many outfielders talked about that I wonder if the Braves aren’t interested in two of them.

Just something to think about.

19 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here? (VI: Post-Thomson)”

  1. Just a note that Ventura resigned with the Dodgers, 1 year, $1.2 million. So it won’t be him.

    Might not be a bad idea to try and sweet talk Phil Nevin into waiving his no trade clause to come to Atlanta. The Padres have a surplus and probably would deal him. He’s been hurt a lot recently, but his most productive years were at third base and only started getting hurt when the Pads tried to make him an outfielder.

  2. Is my math off?

    I thought I heard the number Los Bravos needed to cut was $15 million.

    By releasing Maddux (14.7), Sheff (11), Holmes(7, Lopez (7), Vinny (5) Blanco (1.3), fick (1.0) and Franco (0.8), they dropped 47.8 million from the payroll.

    They have to add LaRoche and Estrada, I presume at league minimums, and they’ve added Thomson at $1.75. Let’s call it 2.5M in additions.

    That leaves about 45 million, less the 15 million in desired cuts, still leaves about 30 million. I hope we can replace Blanco and Franco at comparable numbers. Say $1M each. That leaves $27 million, to be divided among finding a replacement for Maddux, Sheff, Vinny, and Darren Holmes. If Jaret Wright is this year’s Holmes, that leaves a bunch of money for three positions, SP, 3B, and RF. There aren’t really any quality 3Bs out there, so if you get a Joe Randa for 5-6 million, you can definitely be a player for any top free agent out there as a pitcher or RF. Nomar at third, anybody?

    Again, is my math off?

  3. You may be right… I haven’t done the math myself. It may be that the $20 million (sometimes $25 million) figure I heard includes Furcal, as well as raises for players under long-term contracts (the Joneses and Ortiz). Byrd was supposed to get $7 million after last year’s $3 million, I think.

    Didn’t Randa re-up with KC?

  4. I keep hearing that the Braves are going to put DeRosa at third for a year or two until Marte is ready for the job. I think if DeRosa plays every day he could put up good numbers. Not many expected Giles to have the year he had and I think DeRosa is just as good a hitter and as firey a competitor. If they do that, they only would need a right fielder and using DeRosa should allow the Braves to sign a big right fielder such as Vlad or trade for some one like the White Sox’s Ordonez.

  5. Holmes was 700,000, not 7 million. ESPN’s numbers are wrong for him.

    DeRo is not really close to Giles as a hitter. Giles put up some really good numbers in the minors, and he was one of the two or three top hitting second basemen in baseball last year. That said, I still think DeRo is a pretty good hitter and will do at least an adequate job at 3B.

  6. DeRosa would probably outhit all those guys except maybe Batista (unless Tatis found himself). And Batista was pretty lousy last year and at his best is mostly just a home run hitter who doesn’t get on base.

    I won’t do this in a post, but what about this deal?

    Prospects (Not Wainwright or Marte)

    Rafael Furcal
    Manny Ramirez


  7. Is this “deal” being actually discussed or just an idle thought? The Braves do that trade in a second–Furcal for Nomar. Of course, it’ll never happen.

  8. Uh, yeah. I didn’t think about raises. Your 20 mil is probably more accurate than my 27 mil. Still a lot of dough.

  9. You can’t write off DeRosa as a bad hitter. DeRosa hit 6 HRs in 266 ABs last year. Give him 500 ABs and he’ll hit a respectable 12 at least (far more than Estrada will). When given the chace to play evey day DeRosa’s numbers will greatly improve as Giles’ did last year. The main reason Giles beat out DeRosa for the 2nd base position last year is because his glove was considered better. DeRosa may not put up Giles like numbers but he’ll keep the position warmer for Marte than any free aget will.

  10. Sam,

    I like DeRo as much as anybody but you seem to be overstating his case just a little. The main “problem” with making DeRo and everyday player is that he swings at damn near everything. That is one of the top things that seperates him from Giles.

    ’03 PA/BB
    DeRosa – 18
    Giles – 10.8

    Career PA/BB
    DeRosa – 17.4
    Giles – 10.3

    This makes a big difference. DeRo’s best year was probably ’02 when he hit .297, but because he doesn’t walk his OBP was only .339, passable for a shortstop maybe but not for a third baseman.

    DeRo has some pop and hits the ball hard pretty consistently but I think the best we could hope for if he were the everyday 3B is “decent”. The more likely case would be “below average”. He makes a fine utility guy though.

  11. Unless we sign someone for 3B or sign enough outfielders to force Chipper back to 3B (highly unlikely) I have a feeling we’ll see Hessman in the mix at third.

  12. Why compare Derosa to Giles? That has nothing to do with anything. Compare Derosa to the available thrid baseman. Since they all suck, put Derosa at third. Very easy decision. And yes, Hessman could possibly be mixed in. Derosa is a good hitter. Never underestimate the importance of getting regular atbats. If he played everyday his strike zone would improve.

  13. What about Carlos Beltran of KC to play RF? KC shopped him to LA. Move Cipper back to 3rd. He stinks in LF.

  14. The bottom line is DeRosa will be the Braves third baseman next year. He’s cheaper than a veteran and won’t do any worse than the few third basemen on the market. What I am really hoping is that DeRosa performs well enough the next year or two to fetch a good price in a trade when Marte comes along.

  15. As much as I like DeRo he will not make it at third until he learns how to stop double-clutching the ball when he is throwing to first. He is so slow to unload the ball having him at third gives fast hitters a much better chance at an infield single. I’m surprised someone on the coaching staff hasn’t worked on this with him but I’ve seen him do it consistently ever since he came to Atlanta.

  16. I’m not the biggest fan of DeRo’s defense either but his clutch hitting could make him an asset to the Braves. Vinny was not the greatest clutch hitter but one look at DeRo in the divisional series againt the Cubs and you can see that the kid can work under pressure. I wish I could say the same for Sheff and Andrew and Vinny and Fick…

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