Where Do We Go From Here? 2005: Part 4, Outfield

In the outfield, you can count on Andruw. He’s always there, he always produces, he always runs hot and cold. His 2005 was not actually that out of line with what he’s done in the past — except for 15-20 more homers, of course. Anyway, it’s nice to have someone you can rely upon out there, even if part of what you can rely upon is deep slumps.

In the corners, the rookie combo of Langerhans and Francoeur would seem pretty much established now, despite Bobby’s ridiculous start of Jordan in the first playoff game. However, there are question marks in both cases. Langerhans doesn’t really seem to have the kind of bat you’d like in left field. He’s not a drag on the lineup, and gets extra credit for his defense, but you expect a left fielder to be the kind of guy you can put in a key lineup position — leadoff or 3-5. Langerhans is more the kind you hit second or 6-7.

Kelly Johnson might be the kind of hitter you could hit leadoff, or the kind you could hit fifth. He might not; it’s hard to get a handle on him. There doesn’t seem much point in sending him back to Richmond, at any rate, seeing as how he’d pounded the International League into submission. It seems that he’ll return in a fourth outfielder role, unless he’s traded. Or Langerhans could be traded and Johnson given left field. There’s certainly precedent for this. Charles Thomas was traded just last season. Jermaine Dye had won the right field job seemingly for years, then was shipped out suddenly. Keep in mind that San Antonio Ryan is two years and two days older than Austin Kelly.

Jeff Francoeur will not be traded, unless it’s one heck of a blockbuster with a Hall of Fame type player coming to Atlanta. My suspicion, however, is that Jeff will spend time in Richmond in 2006. He hasn’t played AAA yet, of course, and though skipping it isn’t that big of a deal with elite talents, he really wasn’t that good in September and stunk it up in the last three games of the playoffs. Yes, he doesn’t walk much, but if he’s really a .300/.336/.549 hitter you can live with the low walks. But if he’s really a .270 hitter with an isolated power about .200, then we have a problem. He’d have to be really bad in spring to lose his job, and I don’t expect that. If anything, he’ll probably tear up Florida, since the pitchers won’t throw many breaking balls. But what happens if he gets off to a bad start when the games count?

There really isn’t anyone else to challenge these guys. Well, Brian Jordan says he wants to play next year. If he does, hopefully it will be for the Phillies or the Marlins. Andy Marte may break out his outfielders’ glove in winter ball again. But I half expect a trade, with Langerhans or Johnson going elsewhere for a regular left fielder, the other in the fourth outfielder spot. It’s just too similar to the past situations. The Braves need that third middle-of-the-order slugger, and I don’t see either of them ready to fill that role.

113 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here? 2005: Part 4, Outfield”

  1. I too think that the Braves will have a new starting left fielder next season, with either Langerhans or Johnson (probably Langerhans) in the fourth outfielder role.

    I think Dmitri Young is a free agent, and while he’s not what anyone would consider a good outfielder, he’d provide a quality bat and a ton of flexibility with his ability to play 1b/3b/lf. I’m sure there will be the annual Aubrey Huff discussion too, although he’d be a one-year rental like JD Drew was. With Chuck LaMar finally gone from Tampa, Tampa players like Huff, Lugo, and Baez might actually be affordable. I’d love to see the Braves make a move for Milton Bradley, who appears to have worn out his welcome in LA, but he’s so NOT a Braves kind of player, so that’s just wishcasting.

  2. I think Langerhans made a lot of strides offensively in terms of becoming a tough out, but he doesn’t seem to have the power necessary in a left fielder. I doubt,though, that the Braves will trade for or sign an outfielder. Given the payroll, I suspect the Braves will settle for having several functional, if not outstanding, outfielders, with the hope that some of them (especially Francoeur) step up to the next level. I keep seeing people talk about Brian Giles, but, to my mind, he is on the downside of his career and it doesn’t make much sense to make a big investment in him. Also, unless you are going to get a really big bat, I would hate to see them replace the defense you get from the current group. Dmitri Young doesn’t do it for me; if it was Gary Sheffield, for example, I could live with the lesser defense, but not Dmitri Young. Whatever the offensive problems (and they are substantial) with the current outfield alignment, they can pretty much run down anything and, even though it didn’t ultimately make a difference, you could see the problems Houston had (and I think will have against St. Louis) with Berkman in left field.

  3. Milton Bradley is not an upgrade over Langerhans.

    Last year was an above average season for him and he only put up .350/.484/.834. He has never even driven in 70 runs or hit 20 homers in a season. He has a cool name, but besides that he is extremely overrated and a clubhouse cancer on top of that…

  4. I really like the Brian Giles idea. He is my #1 guy. If he would sign a moderately priced 2 year deal (I can dream…) then that solves all problems. Of course, he would likely want more money or a longer deal, leaving less money to resign Furcal (?) and go after a closer, even Farnsworth.

  5. I agree with the assesment some caveats.

    You are right about Langerhans. He is a good player but not the plus power bat you need from a corner OF. His numbers (I believe he came close to his PECOTA projection from BP 2005) look better as a CF. His plus defensive ability makes me think that he is the more tradeable between him and KJ. But unless he was the final part of a killer package I’d keep him becuase lefty hitting OFs with his defensive skills are valuable commodities.

    I haven’t given up on Johnson. His hitting resume in the minors is better than Ryan’s. Its not out of the question to have a LF with good on base skills hit leadoff. You’re right I can’t get a feel for him. When he was going good I was thinking we had a LF for the next 5 years. When he started missing everything I was wondering if he was a AAAA player. I believe that he can be a quality major leaguer.

    Francouer is untouchable. My fear is that the organization will look at that hot start and think that is more the norm than his cold finish and let him suck through Spring Training, April and May before sending him back to AAA. I agree with BP’s assessment that he has to hit .300 or above to be a impact player and nowhere except Danville did he do that in the minors so you have to look at this season as a statistical outlier built up by his famously hot start. The tools are unquestioned. Fantastic bat speed, great fielder and a terrific right fielders arm but the end of the season showed a lot of holes in his swing. I just hope that he isn’t the second coming of Brad Komminsk.

    I agree Andruw was Andruw with 20 more homers. I know that I’ll be villified for this but he is also our most tradeable regular. I don’t necessarily espouse this but he is now at his highest potential return value in his career. The trick of course would be to find a trading partner with the player or players that we need. Since a trade won’t happen I won’t go into fantasizing but there it is.

    A home grown logjam in the outfield, even more if you throw Marte in there. Who would have thunk it since in our history we have typically gone out and acquired outfielders in the past.

  6. Shocker of the Winter:

    Nomar in a Braves uniform. Starting left fielder.

    just thought I’d mix things up.

  7. Brian Giles, hmmm. He might be the premier OF on the FA market this year. People say he is in decline but he put up pretty much his career averages except for home runs and the Petco effect explains that. He made 8+ mil last season. For his plate discipline and power potential someone will pay at least that much. So if the choice is a 35 year old corner outfielder, who by the way plays the same position as your future face of the franchise or Rafael Furcal, who do you choose?

  8. I don’t think Giles is going to come cheaply enough. And I’ll scratch the Dmitri Young thought — apparently, his option for 2006 vested when he reached 500 plate appearances, so he’s not on the market.

    Is it crazy to imagine Johnny Damon in left? If the Braves don’t re-sign Furcal and let Thomson walk, the money’s possibly there. His dreadful arm won’t hurt you as much in left, and he’s one of the few guys on the market who could replace Furcal as the leadoff hitter. It does beg the question of whether Damon and say, Betemit, are better than Langerhans/Johnson and Furcal though.

  9. I imagine the Braves trade Langerhans + James + prospect to Arizona for Javy Vazquez and cash, and grab a couple of good defensive veterans who can play LF and SS to mess around with Johnson and Betemit’s playing time.

  10. Tanto: Levski and I drew up that exact deal on Primer. I think he included enough cash to make Vazquez’s salary about 8 million next year, and the other prospect was Jake Stephens. Needless to say I think it’s a good idea. Not so much about the “good defensive veterans” part.

  11. I guess it depends on whether you think Langerhans is likely to get any better. He’s certainly not young as prospects go, and didn’t play all that well at AAA until he repeated the level. No matter how good his defense is, he can’t really help a major league team playing every day in left field unless he’s better than he was this year.

    The truth of the matter is, though, that Giles is probably the only free agent outfielder (assuming Matsui returns to NY) that would represent a substantial upgrade over Langerhans or Johnson. There are some other guys who are better than what we have, but probably not worth the cost. I don’t think the Braves are going to be willing to pay for Giles though — I’d imagine he gets at least 3 years at $8-9 million per year. I think that if the Braves are going to improve at the position without breaking the bank, they’re going to have to trade for a younger player who has yet to reach free agency. I still think that the Rays present the best opportunity there.

  12. May I point out that if we can’t afford Furcal, we almost certainly can’t afford Damon. A Boras client with an inflated sense of his own self-worth coming off a hot year on a well-known team speaks to me of HUGE money over a long period of time. If we have that kind of money to throw around, throw it at Furcal instead.

    I don’t understand this theory that if you play a certain position, you have to have a certain kind of bat. I think that as long as you have a variety of bats up and down the lineup, it doesn’t matter where those individual bats play and where they fit into some stereotypical conception of how a field should be laid out. I personally am just fine with Langerhans in LF; KJ’s bat might be slightly better but it’s mitigated by his defense. He seems to have a wall phobia, which I guess is good in that it will keep him from getting catastrophic collision injuries, but takes away a lot of his assertiveness in left.

    Possible but unlikely suggestions: Jason Bay (bwahahaha yeah right), Jay Gibbons (not great OBP but lots of power and decent defensively; he just needs practice), Jonny Gomes, Grady Sizemore (yeah right again), Randy Winn, Dmitri Young.

  13. To me, it appears LANGERHANS is ready to be the Braves everyday leftfielder…matured at the plate, some power, cluthc hitting, great defense.

    it’s Francouer that needs 1 more year of farm seasoning.

  14. I’ve read a few articles which say that Steinbrenner wants Damon, which would put him out of the Braves budget. I think he’s better than Langerhans, but not for the money he’ll get.

    I like the Vazquez idea.

  15. Jenny – two thoughts. First, I don’t think it’s a question of whether the Braves CAN pay Furcal, just a question of whether they want to. In other words, is the money better spent elsewhere. Furcal made $5.6M this year, Thomson $4.25M. If they want to re-sign Furcal, they surely can just by letting Thomson walk (or clearing $4M any other way, really).
    As for the bat in LF, it’s simply a matter of efficiency. Left field is not a demanding defensive position, so offense in left field should theoretically be more affordable than offense at ss or cf. It’s cheaper to have a big bat in LF than up the middle of the defense.

  16. The Ginats have already stated their intentions to re-sign Winn at multiple years and he’s been a west coast ballplayer…i liked the Winn suggestion when we had a chance to trade for him in July but he’s a Giant now.

    Jason Bay & Grady Sizemore would be great but I doubt the Pirates & Indians trade either. There might be a an opportunity with Bay since I think Pittsburgh is another one of those teams that would have a need for Estrada and Horacio.

    Also, speaking of Pittsburgh, Jack Wilson is coming off a down year which is the PERFECT time to trade for someone when their price is cheaper. He would be a really good young replacement for Furcal and Wilson is terrific defensively plus has a bat that might re-awaken with a chance to play for a division contender.

    The only reason the Pirates, who could use one more starter since Kip Wells is inconsistent and Oliver Perez has had injuries (that leaves them relying mostly on Zack Duke) is that both Perez & Duke, their 2 best pitchers, are lefties.

    Still, Estrada is a vet and might be a good mix with a young staff.

    Does Pittsburgh have ANYONE worthwhile to pick up in their bullpen?

    Speaking of bullpen…a veteran lefty who’s been excellent in the past and is coming off just 1 bad year which will drive his price way down (and therefore, easy to get for the Braves) is the Orioles’ Steve Kline. His previous 3 seasons with the Cardinals (before his bad 2005 in B’more) were terrific and I imagine putting a crafty veteran like Kline with Leo Mazzone could yield Chris Hammond style results.


  17. Well, actually, Pittsburgh’s ‘pen is loaded with lefty talent (Grabow and Gonzalez). What about trying to deal Estrada/Ramirez for one of those guys and a prospect?

    Also, if we’re looking for a right-handed starter (my assumption was that a lefty is what we need), why not make a bid for Millwood?

  18. Jenny, good question about positioning and bats etc. We have had the luxury of having 2 middle infielders that have power. Marcus 45 doubles 15 hrs, Raffy 30 doubles 12 home runs. This above average power production from traditionally light hitting defensive positions has allowed us to get away with having less than league average power from the corner outfielders. Because defense is less valuable at right and left fields (it typically doesn’t lose you games if you have a hack out there) it is better if they are hitters and in a perfect world power hitters. Langerhans is a good outfielder but this season he showed only moderate power. Good enough for center fielder where his defense makes up for it but not good enough for a left fielder where you typically put your Pat Burrel’s, Miguel Cabrera’s, Cliff Floyd’s and a host of other hitter type guys that are challenged defensively. With Furcal, barring an upset of incredible proportions, gone we don’t have the luxury of not having a plus power bat in the corners any more.

  19. Stu,

    You have my support today :-)

    Great reminders about the Pittsburgh pen…would love a reliever like John Grabow (and his price is still cheap) and even better if we could snake 2 relievers from them but I would say trade for 1 and sign the other.

    What about:



    J. Wilson
    prospect pitcher

  20. I don’t think they’d do that. This kind of gets back at what Mac discussed in regards to the Padres and Greene–good shortstops are hard to find, and if the Pirates don’t have a ready fill-in there, they wouldn’t trade Wilson unless absolutely blown away…and the HoRam/Estrada combination hardly does that.

  21. I doubt that the Pirates, with Perez and Duke, would be looking for a lefthanded starter anyway. If they think they’re ready to contend, they might be interested in Thomson.

  22. Stu,

    That’s fair and frankly, I think the Padres would listen more if we were discussing Andy Marte; on the flipside, I wouldn’t think Marte/Jack Wilson deal is half as appealing for the BRAVES as a Marte/Khalil Greene deal.

    Overall, though, I am EXTREMELY interested in seeing the Braves DUMP Estrada & Horam.

    I also think Estrada is the guy (after Kolb of course) the Braves most HAVE to get rid of. Many people have spoken about Johnny’s ‘sulking’ over McCann’s increased playing time and I liken the way you se CATCHERS to Quarterbacks.

    A 2 Quarterback system (i.e. 2005 Ohio State and Tennessee) NEVER works. A 2 catcher system would have the same affect..shake both guys confidence (as in the case of what’s still going on in Knoxville…of course, both Claussen and Ainge are mediocre so that plays into it) but still…it’s not going to work for McCann to play 81 and Estrada to play 81. Estrada will sulk for sure and it will have a negative effect on the clubhouse.

    Someone earlier suggested Todd Pratt from philly. love that idea…he generally has a pretty good average and has some power and his defense is decent enough for a guy catching once a week. He’s much older and would accept this kind of role, unlike Estrada. Ideally, a team like a San Diego that needs a starting catcher and has things we want (i.e. relief pitching) is a perfect trade scenario.

  23. Isn’t the decision to keep Langerhans dependent in some way on how long Andruw can be expected to continue playing a quality center field?

  24. Mac,

    Interesting suggestion about Thomson to Pittsburgh. I like Thomson’s last month but he’s expendable. If we really feel good about the Smoltz-Hudson-Sosa trio at the top of the rotation, then we could afford to move Thomson, as long as it’s out of the division, like a Padres or Pirates.

    (Besides, Thomson’s bald, excessively sweaty head would fit well in those black Pirate caps).

    I also think Thomson and Estrada (plus prospects) would be more appealling if we are trying to swing Bay and relivers or Jack Wilson and relivers?

    Of course…I would still want to trade HoRam whatever happens with thomson and even if we couldn’t find another vet righty or lefty on the market, I would take a shot on Chuckie and Davies in the 4th and 5th slots.

  25. Alex, I just don’t know about heading into Spring Training counting on both James and Davies in the rotation. That’s why, if we deal both Thomson and Ramirez, I’d really like to do so for cheap relievers so we could still sign a Kevin Millwood.

  26. 1) Tennessee’s problem isn’t with because they have two quarterbacks. It seemed to work out great last year. Their problems are in order Coaching, special teams are terrible, Offfensive line break downs, and neihter of the QB”s are really that good.
    2) I have a feeling that one of our young starters is going to become a releiver or get traded. Sosa, James, and Davies. I could see JS pull a deal with Davies involved for a set up man and or a corner outfielder.
    3) Francoeur is going to be the right fielder until he proves he can’t do it. No way would the Braves give him the job 2/3s the way through the season and take it away in the spring. I think he didn’t play as well down the streech because he was tired. Think about it, his body is young, but is conditioned yet to play into October without some rest. Last year he missed a chunk of time with a broken cheek bone. I think he will become a better hitter next year.

  27. I can’t imagine the Pirates would be willing to trade Bay unless completely blown away, but Wilson…

    It seems to me that they aren’t exactly loaded at talent at first or catcher. Perhaps the Braves could offer some combination of Laroche or Estrada, Betemit and/or a prospect for Wilson, and a solid relief pitcher. The thought being the Pirates will get a catcher or first baseman, and a shortstop to replace Wilson, for Wilson and some relief help for the Braves.

  28. Smitty,

    While my preference is for Frenchy to get some more Richmond seasoning, I am not going to be upset if April 1st sees Frenchy in the ATLANTA right field…plus, it would save money.

    But I think Langerhans has EARNED the starting job. And let’s face it, if both those guys are starters with Andruw next year, the Braves have no excuse but to spend a little more cash elsewhere like either keeping Furcal, adding a starting pitcher, improving 1st base but above all else, GET SOME F-NG RELIVERS!!!!!

    re: Tennesse QB’s…the problem may lie with the backstabbing Jabba the Hut the Vols have coaching them but I don’t like either of their QB’s and most sports analysts are correct in saying that a 2 QB system messes with both guys heads.

    re: Kevin Millwood…he just won the ERA title, Stu and starting pitching is at such a premium, I will bet you anything he is wearing a yankee uniform in April. TRUST ME. If not the Yankees…then he will be wearing a Sawx uni. He was too good for the “big 2” (spenders) not to throw a pile of money at him now. Millwood just earned himself a big payday considering teh starting pitching problems on both those teams. No way the Braves can afford him now.

  29. Ok, NEVER MIND what I just said about Millwood.

    He’s crazy though…he could have made a bunch more money on the openb market from the Yanks and Sawx. I am stunned but the Indians were brilliant for getting that done so fast. Brilliant because they probably though the same thing I did.

  30. Actually, he didn’t re-sign with the Indians. Where did you get that, Smitty? Stop making things up.

  31. With Furcal leaving, maybe we could trade one of the Joneses for an A-Rod at short, the Yanks would need a center fielder and a thirdbaseman. I’m sure they’d eat some of his salary. And I think Langerhans actually has more range in center (and a more accurate arm) than Andruw does now, then maybe bring in a veteran outfielder to split time with Johnson and Francouer at the corners, Brian Giles perhaps. AS long as we don’t end up with Nomar on our team, that guy is garbage and I don’t know why Braves fans are generally so high on him. I know that this is all just a blockbuster fantasy, we’re more likely to have a SS platoon of Betemit and a Craig Counsell/Neifi Perez type, which really wouldn’t be so bad.

  32. There’s no way in hell the Yanks would trade 27 year old A-Rod AND eat his salary for a nearly 34 year old, body breaking down, Chipper Jones. Hell yeah I would do that in a heartbeat but the Yankees would have to be run by circus monkeys for that to happen.

    The Andruw thing is something the Yankees would do in a heartbeat. Center Field is a HUGE problem for them and Jones solves that in a minute. It’s not a TERRIBLE idea (especially if the yankees eat some of the A-Rod contract) but I just don’t see the Braves trading ‘Druw after the season he just had…plus, in terms of post seasons, ‘Druw was much better at the plate against Houston then A-Rod was against the Angels. Still, the Andruw-A-Rod thing makes SOME sense because Langerhans could play center and if we signed Brian Giles, a Giles-Langerhans-Francouer outfield with a Marte-ARod-Giles-Chipper infield is pretty solid.

  33. Alex R
    Plus we thorw in LaRoche, WB, or Marte and either Sosa, Davies, or HoHUm. They could use a good firstbaseman to fill in for Giambi (when he is not DHing) plus right field has a short porch. They would have a hole at third and WB could fill in there or split time with Lowell.

  34. I think ARod maybe a cancer tough. He would have to make some adjustments and realize that this is Chipper and Smoltz’s team, not his.

  35. O.K. time to step in…things are getting out of control here…
    I was with you when we were putting together schemes for jason bay and khalil greene, but A’rod feels like pie in the sky to me.
    Although I do have to admit it is a guilty pleasure to visualize such schemes…

  36. I hope JS takes a long look at Dave Riske, Rudy Seanez, and Chris Hammond. I believe they are all FAs. I wouldn’t mind trying to get Betancourt from the Indians, either. I like the Grabow/Gonzalez ideas as well. Just please, no more Armando Almanzars. We can’t continually bring in $700,000 veteran relievers and hope Mazzone can coach ’em up.

    The outfield’s fine. Leave it alone. Put Marte at first. Trade LaRoche and Estrada for pitching. Re-sign Furcal. We were closer than it seemed this year.

  37. PayRod is 30 years old. There’s a big difference between 30 and 27. I realize we’re just throwing random stuff around, but I flat-out refuse to assume a $250 million contract no matter WHO it is. That money could be better spent anywhere else. Plus he’s obsessed with himself. Not a good fit.

    I would love to get Jason Bay, but again, I was just throwing that name out there, as I think the probability of the Pirates trading him is slim to none. Same goes for Sizemore. Jonny Gomes I’m not sure about. With Chuck LaMar finally kicked to the curb, we might be able to get a reasonable price for him.

  38. plan A: Re-sign furcal. Move Marte to first with Franco (Does anyone not think that marte would be an upgrade over LaRoche). Use Estrada, LaRoche, Ramirez, Kelly Johnson, abundance of minor league talent as trade pieces to fill holes in bullpen and possible left fielder. I wouldn’t mind if we used trade bait to get a lefty starting pitcher, but I am confident in Smoltz, Hudson, Sosa at the top. 4 and 5 should be between lefty picked up in trade, C James, Davies, Lerew. In that order…
    At the end of the day, we didn’t move on to the NLCS because we have a huge crater in the bullpen. No amount of offense could overcome the pen we threw out there.


    A 33 215.2 223 112 35 46 192 11 15 0 100.7 1.25 .266 4.42

    B 33 202.1 214 108 31 67 80 11 9 0 93.0 1.39 .282 4.63

    A is Vasquez
    B is HoRam

    No way I would give up a young player(s) for a more expensive HoRam.

  40. Yeah I think we can all agree that we can win the division again with the same line up with Furcal at the top. If we had three good arms in the pen we could have gone all the way. We need to find these three arms this winter, A set-up guy, a lefty stopper, and a closer. Some of these guys may currently be on the team (Boyer, Devine, McBride.) If this is the case we need to find some guys to come in and solidify this group. Chris Hammond would be nice and we need to find another guy to come in that can strike someone out in the 7th inning. A lot of the problems in the pen were we had too many guys that could come in and get ground balls (Kolb, Rietsma, Brower, and Grybo) in reality we only need one maybe two of those guys.

  41. OneEye, look at the K/BB ratio. These are not the same pitchers. Vazquez was still trying to figure out what the heck happened to him in New York for the first part of the season. He is vastly superior to HoRam, and if it could be worked out financially, I’d love to see him in a Braves uniform.

  42. Smitty:
    You summed it up…IF (I know this is a big if) Furcal re-signs, we need to focus on that bullpen and strengthening our depth…The one thing we don’t need to do is blow up our future. Our strongest asset is the depth of the farm system.

  43. I don’t get the Vazquez/HR thing, either, bmac. 46 walks is hella less than 67, and 192 strikeouts is WAY WAY more than 80. The homeruns are only similar because of the extreme homerun park in Phoenix.

  44. Yeah Joey, I think Cox and Mazzone would be drooling over a rotation that would begin Smoltz, Hudson, Vazquez. I just think finances would be a problem picking up Vazquez’ contract. But if the Snakes would pick up some of it…

  45. how come noone on here mentiones B.J. Ryan, while it is certain the Yankees will offer him a house, the Braves could really use a guy like him.

    that or we have alot of trust in McBride, which in some cases could be warranted.

  46. a 1.39 WHIP to a 1.25 isn’t that big of a difference – an additional 1.25 runner allowed per 9 innings.

    Vasquez strikes out more people for sure, but he gives up just as many runs per game and allows almost the same number of baserunners. And the HR’s can’t be blamed soley on the home park as he gave us 19 of his longballs on the road.

    He also is very inconsistant. Check his August numbers – very Kolb like…

    Plus he makes 11 million (as opposed to HoRam making just over the minimum).

  47. The problem is that Horacio’s upside is what you saw this year. He’s not really ever going to get much better than that. Vazquez still has the ability to post a ridiculous season like his 240K 2003, and what’s more is likely to do so, especially in a decent ballpark away from the craziness of the Yankees defense.

    By the way, Jason Bay is not attainable, so please don’t try to work something to get him. If it came down to it, I would trade Francoeur for him in a heartbeat, but it won’t happen.

  48. I think you’re wrong about Horacio’s upside, Kyle. I think you saw his best LAST season before hurting his shoulder, back when he wasn’t giving up so many homeruns, when he had that sub-3.00 ERA.

    Vazquez is certainly a more talented pitcher. However, bmac, Vazquez actually had a much better first half than second half (I know–he was on my fantasy team), so your explanation for his numbers doesn’t work. Still, I can agree that if the D-Backs will eat some of his pitching, I’d make a deal to get him.

    joshg, I am one of the few who does not think Marte will be an upgrade over LaRoche, at least not for next season. I’m not saying we should prefer LaRoche because of one year, although I really do believe LaRoche will put up better numbers in 2006.

    Aram, I second your thoughts on acquiring bullpen help. It’s time to stop praying for miracles and start spending a little bit more to sign some guys who have proven they can get it done. Todd Jones has been rumored, I know, and I’m not sure how I feel about that, since 2 years ago he looked completely washed up.

    jenny, we would not be on the hook for 25 million a year for A-Rod. (I realize we won’t be acquiring A-Rod in any case, but I want to set the record straight.) The Rangers are already on the hook for some portion of that albatross, and if A-Rod were traded away from the Yanks, the Rangers would still be liable for their portion (though I don’t remember what that portion is). Also, any deal for A-Rod, I’m sure, would be contingent on the Yanks eating some of his salary, as well.

    As far as the Braves trading for A-Rod, though, there’s no way the Braves would EVER trade Chipper (at least not in the foreseeable future), and I don’t think they’ll want to trade Andruw right after a 50-homer campaign.

  49. I have no problem peddling a (perhaps) overvalued package of post-rookies (KJ, Langerhans, whomever) for a solid starter–Smoltz ain’t gonna be here forever.

    That said, I’d love to see one season with Langer in LF. He really did begin to win me over. But then again, young, hustling players who beat the Mets and are good defenders tend to do that for me.

    Unless he bolts with Kasten to DC, JS will surely pull something that’ll give us legit hope again in the ’06. I’m guessing that “bullpen” will be addressed. As brutal as it was during the season, it’s amazing that it was actually worse in the playoffs.

    And folks, don’t hold your breath about A-Rod. He’s taking his lumps up here–sorry, that’s life in the Big City, Alex–but he’s not going anywhere.

    And one more time, just for fun:

    Jeter in ALDS: 7/21, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .333/.348/.619
    A-Rod* in ALDS: 2/15, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .133/.435/.200

    *and one big fielding error

  50. “I think you’re wrong about Horacio’s upside, Kyle. I think you saw his best LAST season before hurting his shoulder, back when he wasn’t giving up so many homeruns, when he had that sub-3.00 ERA.”

    I don’t see that. Horacio wasn’t really doing anything differently; the hits just weren’t falling against him. Horacio’s 2004 is a fluke until he replicates it for a full season, as far as I’m concerned…

  51. OT, but I just watched the Fox intro for the NLCS — could someone please tell me what demographic they’re catering to? I mean, I like Superman by the Kinks, but how hoary can you get? It’s reminiscent of the All-Star Game, when Fox’s bumper music included Elton John’s “Levon”, “Be Good Johnny” by Men at Work, and, God help us all, “Night Moves”. Does this bother anyone else?

  52. Holy crap, as soon as I posted this they played “Debaser” by the Pixies….maybe all is not lost!

  53. And yes, I recognize the irony of bitching about 30-year-old songs, only to applaud a song that is itself 15 years old…. :)

  54. ububba-
    what’s the word on matsui? i’m sure he’ll get a fat, long-term contract from the jankees…but have you heard otherwise?

    aside from being a professional and clutch hitter, his work ethic is unparalleled. has he ever missed a game?

    not to mention the fact that he draws an entire country of fans.

  55. Matt,

    Yeah, Matsui’s contract is up now and I’ve heard nothing other than the fact that 1) the Yanks will certainly re-sign him and 2) he doesn’t want to play for anyone else. Also, from all I hear, he loves NYC for many reasons.

    Aside from his production, the Yanks like Matsui’s baseball instincts & the fact that he can play CF, but strangely he wasn’t so great in the field this year.

    And no, he’s never missed a game. He has some crazy streak going that pre-dates his time in MLB. It’s a big deal in Japan, but it draws Ripken-like criticism among Yankee fans.

    I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’ve gone to 25+ games in the Bronx for more than a decade & the last 3 years have seen a dramatic increase in Japanese fans. (When the Seattle Ichiros visit, it’s amazing.) This year, with Wang on the mound, we saw a significant Chinese presence at the games, too. (Lotsa signs in Chinese.) The whole phenomenon brings a new international feel that I really enjoy at the games.

  56. ububba,

    yeah, it’s really cool what players like matsui and ichiro do for MLB.

    When I lived in NY, I went to that orange hellhole Shea Stadium whenever the Braves were in town. Kaz matsui had a huge gathering cheering him on…japanese signs and cheers throughout the stadium. it was probably better that no one could understand when he was making all those errors.

  57. Brian Giles posted a .333 AVE, .463 OBP, and 1.008 OPS on the road this season. Take that guy away from Petco Park and he is a monster. Unless the Cubs drive up the price, I would definitely love to see Brian Giles coming to Atlanta instead of a bunch of mediocre veterans. For me, if Furcal leaves, we have to sign another impact bat because there is really no better alternative than Betemit considering the costs of other veteran through trades (salary + prospects). If Furcal stays, the Braves can live with Langerhans and Francouer in the outfield. However, I have given up hope of Furcal staying already. So, the Braves have to find another impact player at another position, and I think Brian Giles fits the Braves perfectly. Then, this will free up Kelly Johnson to trade for a starting pitcher or bullpen help.

  58. Speaking of the Orange Hellhole…

    Today I heard a couple calls to WFAN about the Mets getting Furcal to play 2B. The K-Matsui experiment is over.

    Brief recent conversation with a Met fan…

    Met Fan: Y’know, if my team lost in the playoffs every year like the Braves, I’d rather they didn’t make the playoffs.

    Me: If you’d rather have your team lose instead of win, what does that make you?

  59. I think either Johnson or Langerhans gets traded.

    Francouer will not start in AAA, nor should he really. You can’t ignore the human element, starting a guy in the minors who played such a crucial role and is in the run for Rookie of the Year the season before is simply not practical. What happens if he gets demoralized and doesn’t work hard? How will that help him get better? He’s good enough just as he is now that they can afford to let him get better while on the major league club. It’s the smarter move and it’s what Bobby is going to do.

  60. Vasquez has always given up a bunch of homers. Even in his best years he did, if not quite as many as he does now. In 2003, he struck out 241, had a 3.24 ERA, but allowed 28 homers. And that was a low number for him. He’s been in the top ten in the league four years running.

  61. stupid mets’ fan…i have nothing good to say so i’ll shut up.
    stupid, stupid mets’ fan and their stupid, orange stadium.

    i’ve heard the furcal/mets stuff, too.
    i’m sure he’d do fine at 2B, he’s a hell-of-an-athlete…but damn, what a waste. it would be pretty funny to see him accidentally rifle 20 balls into the stands. or even blow off the 1st baseman’s glove.

    i know some don’t agree but i think JS is planning to keep him here.

    …i’m having trouble watching the NLCS…watching pettitte get shelled and berkman grounding into inning-ending double plays. my god, this hurts.

  62. Vazquez is a flyball pitcher, so he’s going to allow some homers. This guy allowed his fair share of bombs and was still effective because he gets Ks and few BBs.

  63. Johnny, I totally agree w/ you regarding the power at traditionally bantam bat positions, but I kind of sorted it in my head that the 2b/ss muscle allowed the Braves to carry a weak 1b bat, and the lack of pop in the corner outfield spot (spots, pre-frenchheart) was more than mitigated by a clean up hitting cf.

    That’s been generally true of these Braves for a while now. STRONG, in all senses of the word, up the middle, floating by and saving $$$s at the traditional ribbie positions. Javy’s move and Paunch’s return to mediocrity really hurt them in this sense.

    I know it is probably an accident of available resources rather than some organizational gambit (and I am probably greatly exagerating this in my head), but it is really pretty tricky. Why spend 10plus mil on Drew or Shempf when youve got their production in a spot where you’d be paying good to top dollar anyway just for a glove.

    On the other hand, of course, you have to think it is a real waste of an incredibly lucky developmental draw to not go for the gusto and splurge on a friggin 5 hole 35 hr hitting friggin 1bman or corner OF for cryin out loud.

    Pick up the tab A-hOLes.


  64. yeah, I just stopped by to see if anyone saw that.

    . . . Doug Eddings, why does that name sound familiar??

  65. That was awful.

    Don’t go on strike, Mr. Eddings. The nation just saw that. There’s a little room left on the couch next to Mr. Gregg.

  66. That had to be the worst piece of umpiring I’ve ever seen. I’m so mad I can’t see straight (I’m rooting for Anaheim). How can you call the batter out twice, let everyone run off the field, THEN call the guy safe at first when you had NO VIEW AT ALL of whether the catcher caught the ball or not, which he did? I’m so disgusted I could break the TV. Doug Eddings, go rot in hell. What incompetent piece of crap let you umpire a postseason game?

  67. I have never seen the OF and IF situations so tightly tied together. If we had a bopper at 1B, we could live with Langerhans/Johnson in LF. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    I’ll admit I was a big-time Langerhans skeptic going into the season. I think his 2004 power numbers at Richmond were an aberration, but the guy impressed me from a variety of angles. He is a very good fielder and has become a very good hitter. Good patience and bat control and he can drive the ball on occasion. He is probably best-suited to be a 4th OF on a very good team, but if there is an upgrade at 1B, I think he can carry his weight as the regular.

    I was quite impressed with Johnson when he first came up, but he seemed to get all out of kilter while Langerhans was improving. He just seemed to be mentally a half-step behind and got easier for pitchers to set up. I think he has a future, but I wish the Braves would give him some innings at 3B and 1B (and maybe 2B). Orr hustles and does some things the team needs, but I think Johnson could develop into one of those Rex “The Wonder Dog” Hudler type players (sans the drugs) who could get 300 ABs playing a variety of positions.

    Agree with all posters on the power in non-traditional places, but that works best when you have 10-15 HR power at all positions.

    One idea I have been having concerns Brad Radke. He has a one-year $9 million contract. I live in Minnesota and watch him a lot. I don’t think he’s worth $9 million, but he popped off a couple of times this season (very uncharacteristic) and may want out (I think the Twinks are getting ready to drop like a stone in that division). He’s openly talked about 2006 being his last season. I think he’s a guy Leo would absolutely love to work with and Bobby would like as well. Twins are desperate for IF help. This isn’t something I am advocating, but is troubling in that it might make sense (at least in JS’ mind) as a quality stop-gap in Hampton’s absence.

  68. Guys like Radke & Vasquez are intriguing, but together they earned $20 million this year.

    And I think “The Wonder Dog” got busted for cannabis, which really shouldn’t be a big deal to anyone. (Plus, one guesses he had to have something to calm him down, right?)

    Anybody watching this umpires press conference after the Angels debacle? It’s positively Rovian.

  69. 50PoundHead, I like you idea about Radke. I have been predicting that the Braves will go after a frontline starting pitcher to replace Hampton, and that pitcher is preferably a lefty who is on his last year of contract or arbitration year. However, I have searched around the league, and there is no such lefty exists. So, the alternative would be a righty of course. Radke is a front line starting pitcher for sure, but I am not sure if I would like a control pitcher if the Braves do not have Furcal to protect Chipper. I would prefer a power pitcher instead.

  70. For the first time ever I saw the umpires having a press confrece. I ahve never seen officals have to explain their calls on TV. That is great!
    Has anyone else ever see that?

  71. Doug Eddings needs to be fired. There’s absolutely no excuse for a bullshit call like that in a pivotal game that should never be decided by umpiring, especially when you’re not sure and make like 5 different calls on the same play with a 30-second delay between each. Complete garbage. Cut him loose and get instant replay so we don’t have to deal with this crap for the next 50 years when it screws US instead of Anaheim.

  72. If MLB finally decided to install instant reply into baseball, we may actually have to thank Eddings!!!

  73. Eddings is taking a lot of grief for something that’s not completely his fault. Nobody seems to mention that the Angels neglected to institute the “no takebacks” option, rule 504(b)(3) of The Official Major League Calvinball Rulebook. As “no takebacks” was not in effect, Eddings was perfectly within his rights to modify his “out” call into an awarding of first base.

  74. Eventually, somebody’s going to start a firedougeddings.com website. Apparently, he gets into a lot of tiffs with players and has a strike zone the size of Texas (only one order of magnitude lower than Gregg). His only redeeming virtue seems to be his willingness to call a batter for not trying to avoid a HBP, one of Mac’s pet peeves.

    Some testimonials:

    Bobby Higginson on Eddings:

    “Sometimes, these guys look lot ways to bait guys and throw them out of the game,” Higginson charged. “I always say that umpires are probably frustrated athletes who are looking for a way to get involved in the game.”

    Craig Biggo on Eddings, after having to be restrained by his third base coach:

    That was only my second ejection. I guess I’m a big troublemaker.

    Johnny Estrada on Eddings, after having to be restrained by his hitting coach:

    At one point, I said, ‘Why are you yelling at me?’

  75. Mac,

    Please, PLEASE start another thread soon so we can get back to the topic of the Braves OFF season and not spend any more time on Eddings and the ALCS.

    My comment on Eddings is he’s a small minded boob and player baiter and I am glad this incident happened because he may get fired and not screw the Braves anymore.

    But I am still rooting for the White Sox of the 4 teams left.

    My reasonings:

    1. Ozzie Guillen, though nuttier then Tom Cruise at a Psychiatrist convention where Brooke Shields is the keynote speaker, is an EX Brave and loves Cox & the Braves.

    2. The White Sox haven’t won a world series since 2002…they are due.

    3. I refuse to root for Houston…they just beat us a 2nd straight year and Roger Clemens is still a bully. I would only root for Bagwell & Biggio but that’s it.

    4. The Angels won in 2002. They aren’t America’s darling anymore and my general rule of thumb is to a root for the team (of 4 left) that has won in the longest unless that team (the Astros) beats the Braves to get there. My anger still has not subsided from Sunday.

    And seeing Chris Burke hit a home run last night on SportsCenter (since I was it and then when I came home, I chose to watch Veronica Mars & Lost rather then NON Brave playoff games) just re-opened Sunday’s wound. Jerk.

    5. I hate the effing Cardinals. I always have. I hated the John Tudor-Joaqin Andujar-Whitey Herzog-Tommy Herr-Willie McGee Cards of the 80’s, and now I hate them more then ever because Tony LaRussa is a giant a–hole. He’s a nasty human being who ruins his pitches and is a major smack talk, particularly against the Braves.

    Though I may not like at all what Cox has done as a Manager in the post season, Cox is a nice guy and everyone who’s played for him can’t say a bad word about the guy…the opposite is true about LaRussa.

    I don’t hate all the Cardinals individually…Pujols is a GREAT player and doesn’t seem to be a jerk (and he even said his MVP vote would go to Andruw which was classy) & Marquis was a Brave.

    The bottom line…if the Cards were playing the Yankees my head would explode because I couldn’t find 1 reason to root for either.

    So…that leaves the White Sox. Sure, their fans are the most fairweather in sports and basically NUTS (including attacking opposing team’s on field coaches) & there’s a movie about how the White Sox cheated, BUT, based on my rules, they are the team I have to root for now.

    Oh, and the other reason is my wife’s family is from Chicago and though most of them are HUGE Cubs fans, they are actually rooting for the Sox. (Which backs Mike Wilbon’s theory that Cubs fans have no issue with rooting for the Sox but Sox fans HATE the Cubs).

    And though I would probably root for the Cubs to win a World Series if they make it next year (which of course would mean another bad October for the Bravos) but I have a LONG LONG memory and haven’t forgotten the 2003 Playoffs…not just because they BEAT US, but because they had more fans at Turner Field then we did and on top of it, were incredibloy nasty & vicious towards the Braves fans and players. I was incredibly turned off by the displays by Cubs fans.

  76. I meant to say the White Sox havent won a world series since 1917 and had been thinking the Angels won in 2002…sorry…havent had morning coffee yet.

  77. Here’s how I read the tea leaves FWIW: Furcal: as Hawk might say, “he gone.” If the Braves were really serious about signing him to a multi-year contract, it would have happened already. They’ll make an offer in the neighborhood of 3/$24M, but someone (probably Cubs, hopefully not Mets) will offer an additional year and more dollars, and that will be that. I think the Braves will offer arbitration since it is extremely unlikely that he would take it and if he did, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. So who plays shortstop? I don’t think it will be Betemit unless JS just has no other options after the dust settles. Most likely a trade for someone like Julio Lugo. Chipper stays at 3rd. I don’t think he will agree to make a move to 1st in favor of a rookie who did not fare well in his major league debut. If Marte had gotten off to a hot start when Chipper was hurt ala Frenchy, the story might be different. Marte will need to switch positions at least temporarily, with 1B the most likely destination (LF possible but less likely). If he doesn’t switch, he almost has to be traded. There is no point to having him repeat AAA. If LaRoche is not traded, he and Marte will have a “platoon” of sorts, but not in the classic lefty/righty platoon sense. Marte has to get most of the ABs unless he fails utterly. Brian Giles: not happening. When was the last time the Braves signed a veteran big name free agent that was still widely seen as valuable to a multi-year contract? The Braves are much more likely to either take a flyer on a veteran who was valuable in the past and can be signed to a short term contract, or trade for a established bat with 1 or two years remaining on his contract. Francouer starts in RF, and only gets demoted if he really stinks it up. I think either Langerhans or KJ will be traded, along with either Estrada or Pena, and possibly LaRoche (although I think he will stay as insurance against a Marte bust at 1B).

  78. Kirk,

    First, I agree about Furcal. I think he’s gone too.

    Second, the question being bantied on here is HOW to replace Furcal? Do we simply plug in Wilson Betemit and lose the top of the order speed or do we try to do a Marte deal, a big one, where we could land a Khalil Greene or Bobby Crosby type SS stud. That would be nice.

    Third, I think Brian Giles would come if the Braves can get him for a 1 year deal with a team option for a 2nd year. People on here maybe right about Frenchy starting off right field in April, but I think it’s a mistake. Jeff clearly clearly needs more seasoning. One year from Brian Giles would be nice.

    If we spend our money on ONE thing this offseason, it better be relievers. The second biggest need is a lefthanded starter because HoRam sucks. I think several teams out there would be interested in him–good. We don’t need the lefthanded Russ Ortiz anymore.

    Anyway, the order of most PRESSING needs this winter:

    1. The Bullpen…by a country mile
    2. Lefty quality starter
    3. Power hitter (somewhere) to protect the Jones boys.
    4. Replace Furcal…whether it be IN house or OUT of house, it hopefully won’t be a stopgap no hit player like Lugo or Tony Pena Jr. I would rather give Betemit the job at that point because he can hit.
    4. Fix 1st Base–that ties in with #3…but the 2 headed mediocre monster needs to be gone. I don’t care if its Marte, Chipper or an outside guy, NO MORE LAFRANCO.

    5. (preparing to be gang tackled)…replace Cox with NED YOST.

  79. Alex, dude, you gotta give up the idea of getting Giles for a one year deal. As my grandpappy used to say, “That dog won’t hunt.” (Actually, it wasn’t my grandpappy, it was Furman Bisher at Tommy’s getting his hair cut, but who’s counting?) He’s gonna get 3 years minimum, probably for more than we can afford.

  80. I would place it in this order:

    1. Furcal (However unrealistic it is that we re-sign him, I think what goes on with respect to Furcal will have more of an impact than any other issue next season.)
    2. Bullpen
    3. Power hitter
    4. Frontline starter, righty or lefty (I think this is the most minor of these issues, because I’m comfortable with a rotation of Smoltz/Hudson/Thomson or Sosa (whichever isn’t traded)/Ramirez/Davies, assuming they stay healthy.

  81. Stu,

    Part of the reason I place such importance on getting a frontline lefty is the following:

    1. Hampton is hurt, HoRam susck, ergo, we don’t have a lefty (especially if Chuck James is not ready)

    2. Smoltz’s health…I am not so sure we can expect another really good 32-34 start season.

    3. Jorge Sosa, like HoRam, was really good because of a LOT of DUMB LUCK. It caught up with HoRam, it WILL catch up with Sosa.

    So, if Sosa sucks as a starter next year (he really should be a reliever…his best role) and Smoltz gets hurt, then we are left with Hudson, HoRam, Thomson & Davies…I am sorry, unless we add a ton of offense and the best bullpen ever, that’s not going to cut it.

    Getting a really good starter (ok, even a righty) is paramount…I think JS is smart enough to realize that a lot of Sosa this year was dumb luck and Smoltz’s bumb shoulder is an ominous 2006 sign.

    I think getting another frontline starter is imperative…in fact, if I had to choose between having that below average rotation (with possible Sosa suckage and Smoltz injury and left with the other 4) and adding a Konerko vs. keeping virtually the same lineup and even losing Furcal (but replacing him with Betemit) but adding 2 big time relief arms and 1 big time starter arm, I go easily with the ladder.

    You would hope that adding 3 really good pitchers this offseason would help turn around our biggest problems and then have to hope the youngsters (McCann, Frenchy, Langerhans, Betemit) continue to provide consistent offense in 2006.

  82. ububba, I wasn’t busting on Rex. I couldn’t remember if it was bennies or weed, so I used the catch-all. Yeah, Rex is so hyper he actually could have used a morphine drip in the dugout.

    Sosa got lucky, but when you can throw it 95, you tend to get luckier than when you throw a dime store cut fastball like Ramirez. It’s all about the “out” pitch.

    I can’t figure out the love for Greene. I, too, think Furcal is probably gone. My only point would be that the Braves should at least pursue him seriously (Offer arby, look at a 3-year deal, etc.) instead of the standards lip service given Sheffield and Drew upon their departures.

    I still think not signing Sheffield was the biggest mistake this franchise has made in the last five years. I know there are budget constraints, but in term of cost/benefit both long and short term, I think signing Sheff would have made the most sense. Well, maybe not to Sheff, but to me.

  83. Chuck James is probably ready enough. I’d give him a shot before spending oodles of cash or players on an established lefty. Heck, I’d give him a shot over Davies, who really started to look like he needs more time in AAA.

    Sosa’s season was mostly luck, true, but luck aside, he’s still good enough to be a bottom-of-the-rotation starter. I guess my dream rotation next year would be:


    with HR pitching for the Marlins or Phillies.

    Injury’s always a fear, but Davies and Lerew both have some major league experience under their belt, and they could both start in a pinch. I actually think the rotation doesn’t suck, if HR gives back the pictures.

    It would be great to have a lefty in the rotation, but those guys are really, really expensive. And who’s out there? Washburn’s going to cost a lot, and I can’t think of anyone else.

  84. Interesting point about Gary Sheffield.

    It’s funny, hindsight is 20-20 but the Braves would have been better off in keeping Sheffield for 3 more years.

    First, he’s still been extremely productive in the 2 years since leaving Atlanta and appears to be healthy enough to go for another 36 homers, 100 ribbies, .300 avg. in 2006.

    Second, we are not left in the lerch by JD Drew because he never even COMES to Atlanta.

    Third, we keep Sheffield and spend the money on having that extra power bat, we probably KEEP Millwood and don’t go & spend the money on Tim Hudson. Hudson was Ok this year but look at the ERA’s…Millwood was more then a RUN better then Hudson in 2005 and he didn’t even need Leo Mazzone! proof that Millwood was underrated and undervalued while Tim Hudson showed he was overrated.

    Honestly, Millwood/Sheffield vs. Hudson/Mondesi/rookies…I would take the former.

    JoeyT, fully agree that I would like to see HoRam (along with Estrada, LaRoche, half our bullpen) OFF THE BRAVES IN 2006.

  85. The danger with HR and the rotation is the lefty issue. I’m pretty comfortable with Smoltz-Hudson-Thomson-Sosa, and I’m pretty sure heroic trio is, too. As lucky as he was, Sosa is still an acceptible fourth starter. There just needs to be a fifth starter, and he needs to be a lefty. I’m afraid Bobby and JS will take this too far and keep HR in that #5 role.

    I mean, James can’t be worse, can he?

  86. Alex,
    I guess that the main problem with some of your scenarios is that they are beyond the realm of possibility. Crosby, Greene? Forget it. Again no one in their right mind trades a championship quality middle infielder for a corner infield PROSPECT.

    Brian Giles for 1 year. He is going to make another 24 or 25 million dollars in the next 3 years. He is that good. We could probably afford that if we let Furcal go. If I were JS I’d have that as a plan 1a since I doubt that we get much beyond the initial offer stages in negotiations with Furcal. If history serves as a guideline then 3 @ 24 or there abouts is what the offer to Furcal will be…max 3 @ 27. In the inevitable scenario where Furcal takes 4 @ 44 or 45 from another team then offer the 2 @ 24 package to Giles. That would be a good offer for a 35 year old outfielder in a normal market. However the dearth of quality in this years market means someone will probably pay alot more.

    Ramirez, LaRoche, Johnson, Langerhans, Sosa, Estrada as trade bait. They are worth what they are worth. Lets see… even as a package are they worth one really good impact player. Sure maybe if someone was doing a salary dump on an underperforming former star but you have to give quality to get quality.

    Typically the Braves look to settle in house affairs before hitting the market. Usually that means that we are looking at left overs.

  87. If recent history is any guide, the Braves will add A) one big-time player, B) a couple of mid-career slot-fillers, and C) one hanger-on:

    2005 — A)Hudson B)Kolb, Mondesi C)Jordan
    2004 — A)Drew B)Thomson, Reitsma, Alfonseca C)Wright
    2003 — A)Ortiz B)Hampton, Fick, Hernandez, King C)Reynolds
    2002 — A)Sheffield B)Castilla, Albie C)Hammond

    Sometimes the A guy was a B in A clothing (Ortiz), sometimes the B guys actually have nothing to give (Albie, Mondesi, Kolb), sometimes the C guys surprises (Hammond, Wright). But overall, this seems to be the trend.

    So, and particularly if Furcal walks, I think JS will find another “big piece” to replace him (though not a shortstop). The newly youthful roster means we won’t need as many gap-fillers (SS being the likely exception — someone mentioned Alex Gonzalez — unexciting but sensible), and I do anticipate a bullpen cattle call….

  88. Johnny,

    First, what you & others seem to be ignoring is that Andy Marte is considered possibly the best 3rd base prospect in Baseball. It’s not like we trading used meatloff and old gym socks for Greene or Crosby…Marte is considered equivalent level with 40 homer power at 3rd.

    Second, of the list of “trade bait” guys, the only one I am strongly against dealing now (unless of course it landed us a frontline starter, 1B or SS) is Ryan Langerhans. I am even Ok with trading Jorge Sosa while his value is HIGH however, since his salary is so LOW, it would be hard to deal Jorge’s numbers for another starter, even a lefty, who’s numbers may have been even this year but makes more money.

    Yes…I would kill to see HoRam, Estrada & LaRoche especially off the Braves next year. As for Kelly Johnson, though I think he will get better & better and has some star potential, I would trade him. the .240 avg. though, WON’T help. I have to say though Kyle Davies ALSO could get BETTER & BETTER, he might make more sense to trade then Sosa because A) Sosa is better right now and B) Davies is seen with more upside and after what I saw, I am not convinced this guy is another Jason Schmidt.

  89. What if we blow of Furcal and go after Billy Wagner? Then we trade KJ, Sosa, Laroche, and Estrada to Pittsburgh for Oliver Perez, Jack Wilson, and a reliever.

  90. I think precedence has been set and there will be little FA signings and trades this off-season by the Braves. I have a feeling you may see them send the young outfielders(Langerhans,Johnson and Francoeur)and Devine to the Mexican League this winter to improve/develop hitting and get more pitching experience. The only signing I can forsee is Furcal. He will be the number one priority this off season. They will not bring back Thomson,will continue to let youngsters (mostly pitchers next year) come up and fill the roster.
    His replacement is already in place (Davis, James). The major off season question IMO is what to do with Marte? Hitting is the major problem with this team. There is never dependable hitting up and down the lineup, a guy who will put up the numbers (power/runs/rbi’s) with out the major ill-timed slumps. Marte can be that guy without having to do the Kolb thing (trade highly rated prospects for guys who don’t pan out). I think management took a look at the rookie invasion, see the money saving and winning at the same time and instead of spending will tell JS to “continue to march in that direction)…JMTC

  91. I feel 100% certain that no matter what happens or doesn’t happen with Furcal/SS, LaRoche/1B or HoRam/SP, that JS WILL SIGN SOME GOOD RELIEF PITCHING and not warm bodies like Tom Martin, Almanza & Gabe White.

    Relievers are generally not that expensive (outside of guys like Gagne, Wagner & Rivera) and it’s so blatantly awful, the pen, JS realizes this is a HUGE priority. HUGE. I am not saying it’s going to be a fun winter like year’s past, but he needs to fix the bullpen or resign as General Manager, plain and simple. This is a no if, ands or butts scenario in many Braves fans opinion. Our bullpen was LITTLE LEAGUE CRAP.

  92. I enjoy the hot-stove league, but emotions remain a little raw right now. I like watching them play dramatically more than I like projecting the next season’s lineup or a slew of trades.

    That said, until Andy Marte shows that he can handle major league pitching, he’s Brad Komminsk, another minor-league monster. I love the idea of him and sincerely hope he’s the next Eddie Matthews, but I can’t possibly invest any serious hopes until he actually does something in the show. And I damn sure wouldn’t slot him into the lineup until he does.

    My guess is that Chipper stays at 3rd & LaRoche at 1B, unless a really good deal (for LaRoche) is on the table. Certainly another team overvalues LaRoche (like we do, I guess). He’s cheap, he’s solid at first and he’s had 2 good playoffs in consecutive years. That may impress some GMs, despite the flaws we all know about.

    Can we do better than him at first? Probably, so. But personally, if we could ever drop him to 7th in the lineup, I’d be fine with keeping him if he doesn’t end up in a good trade. That’s where you put low-OBP, decent-power guys.

    And just how high off the couch did you jump when he hit that HR last year in Game 4? When he hit the GSHR this year? He ain’t Reggie Jackson, but you gotta admit, at the time those were pretty big.

    For all our collective animus, he’s not the reason we’re watching Houston play. Our suck-ass bullpen is, and let’s not forget that.

  93. “That said, until Andy Marte shows that he can handle major league pitching, he’s Brad Komminsk, another minor-league monster. I love the idea of him and sincerely hope he’s the next Eddie Matthews, but I can’t possibly invest any serious hopes until he actually does something in the show. And I damn sure wouldn’t slot him into the lineup until he does.”

    I’m sure you can see the catch-22 there, though…you’re not willing to let him play until he proves himself, but he’ll never prove himself if you don’t let him play.

  94. put your faith in the coaches, they usually know when players are ready to for the big leagues. Or at least when they’re ready for a chance to prove themselves there.

  95. Tanto,

    I gotta see Marte swing the bat once in a while & not look intimidated by MLB pitching, like he did (to my eyes) this year.

    I’d like to see him on the roster and give him ABs. I’d like to give him a chance to earn his place on the team.

    I just don’t want to make major roster decisions right now based on a guy who hasn’t proven a thing. If that means keeping LaRoche, I can handle that.

  96. honestly, i’ve heard enough of the Giles bantering. it’s not 2001 anymore guys, and he isn’t getting any younger. he had a fall off year, and the braves CANNOT afford to dedicate 8-12 mil to someone that isn’t a SURE bet, so just put that idea to rest. What you’re more likely to see is the winter meeting magic that JS is so famous for, where he’ll swing a trade for either a quality shortstop or outfielder, leaving Andruw to man center and Francoeur to man the other vacant corner outfield position.

    that being said and done, i dont completely agree with Marte looking “intimidated” by MLB pitching. If there’s one thing that all of us who follow baseball know, it’s that it’s a game of streaks. Streaks in pitching, hitting, running. Kelly Johnson was having a miserable time trying to get balls in play, but he got consistent playing time. Marte is the type of player that is going to tear the cover off of the ball. Have him man the 1st baseman’s mitt in winter league and see how things go. He screams to be a future superstar.

    Leave the money to shore up the PITCHING. Because if you don’t recall what lost this postseason, it was our lack of PITCHING, not necessarily hitting. hitting wins games, pitching wins championships, and isn’t that what we all want?

  97. im up for trading kj/estrada/thomson/prospects as part of a package for PITCHING (third starter pleaseeeeeeeeee) and allowing Marte to do a miguel cabrera for a couple years until chipper retires and/or moves positions/teams

  98. as in, play left field as opposed to first. its actually quite obvious that laroche has the ability to be a starting caliber player, while langerhans looks like and excellent FOURTH outfielder. he obviously doesnt leadoff and/or hit for enough power to be a starting left fielder in the majors.

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