Braves trade LaRoche to Pirates |

The return is Mike Gonzalez and another, unnamed player. Well, he has a name, we just don’t know what it is. Hopefully it is a pitcher and not the likely-useless Chris Duffy. Thorman would appear to be the new first baseman. This trade was obviously delayed just so I would write up LaRoche.

176 thoughts on “Developing”

  1. JS needs to have gotten a good return for LaRoche. It seems to me he was holding all the cards and could expect overpayment for Adam.

  2. Watch for us to end up with Torres and flip Gonzo for Cabrera and Proctor. 2 relievers and an OF for LaRoche…If not we saved a little by trading LaRoche

    Gonzalez, 28, went 3-4 with a 2.17 ERA in a career-high 54 appearances in 2006 and converted each of his 24 save opportunities in his first full season as a closer. Gonzalez, who qualified for arbitration for the first time this winter, will receive a pay raise from $347,000 to $2.35 million. LaRoche would’ve been between 3-3.5

  3. If this is it, then I’m against it… But I hope that we may be able turn GOnzalez into something else…

  4. I know ububba can ring in here, but I watch a lot of the YES network when the Braves aren’t on, and I don’t like Melky Cabrera much. I’m not a stat junkie, and don’t know a VORP from a hole in the wall, but just seeing him play, he isn’t a significant improvement over Langerhans, either offensively and defensively.

    As far as the pitching side of the deal, Proctor could be valuable if his arm didn’t fall off in August the last two seasons. But if Torres is the other player in the deal, I’d rather have him, Gonzalez and Langerhans over him, Proctor and Cabrera.

  5. I think this is a BIG mistake. Don’t really understand the move. Thorman has shown NOTHING except a propensity to swing and miss alot more than most players even when he doesn’t strike out.

    I think the Braves are bound for .500 or less ball for the next few years, sadly.

  6. I liked LaRoche, but I think this is a good deal for Altanta, especially in the long run. Hard throwing lefty relievers are a serious commodity, but good firstbaseman aren’t all that hard to come by. I have no clue what presumed replacement Thorman will do next season, though it probably won’t match LaRoche…but I don’t think it will be a huge drop, either.

  7. Reposting this because of new thread:

    Ugh, who do JS and Bobby think is going to hit for this team? I mean, its nice to have a bullpen that looks good for once, but bullpens are supposed to hold leads and keep you in games so your offense can win. I don’t like the look of a team who’s #1 strength is the bullpen, and can consider defense, offense, starting pitching and depth (major league and minor league) to be weaknesses. We look like we have 4 decent hitters, one of whom will miss 50 games, another who’s a catcher and thus will miss many games, and another who will be gone next year.

    Unless we keep this bullpen intact long enough to build a solid team around it then this offseason’s moves appear to be very pointless, and probably detrimental to the team.

  8. I’m not sure Thorman replacing LaRoche is cause to abandon ship, Chief. This team can still score runs, but even if not, at least we’re looking at a better ‘pen to keep us in some games.

  9. Proctor? A middle reliever who just turned 30? What good is that? Why would we want Scott Proctor? Cabrera is overhyped, Chris Duffy is a quitter, and Torres is Salomon Torres. The only interesting player involved in the discussion is Gonzalez, and flipping him would seem counterproductive.

  10. Its a definite sell-high move that could turn south.
    I’d say we could have the best BP in MLB if Torres is really coming. that counts for something. I feel better about our chances with Torres, Gonzolez, Sorriano, Wickman holding a 1-run lead than I do in Laroche producing the 6-run lead necessary to get last year’s pen through the last three innings.

  11. Dix, that’s overblown. We had at least average hitters for every position but one (hi, Jeff!) prior to trading LaRoche. We’ve got major league position depth as well in Prado, Aybar, and Langerhans/ Diaz (whichever isn’t starting). Remember, this team did finish second in the NL in runs scored last year.

    Thorman looks pretty pedestrian from here, probably a bit below average but not cripplingly so, and is still young enough to improve some. He could have a year in him like LaRoche last year.

  12. Wow…JS actually did it, I thought this thing was long dead.

    Oh well, I guess we gotta hope Thor can come through. I think he can, obviously he won’t be as good as LaRoche was at the end of the season but if he can play solid defense, hit .270-280 20+ HR and 70+ RBIs, I would be more than happy with that.

    The plus side of this deal is we now have the best bullpen in the NL and maybe even the ML. With Soriano in the 7th, Gonzalez in the 8th and Wickamania in the 9th…as Borat would say….I like!!! Also have a steady bullpen will take significant pressure off of our starters to go 7+ IP, if they can go out and give us a good 6 innings or so and with that bullpen we may just be back in the promise land fellas. ;)

  13. I dont know, we’ve lost Giles, Laroche and Betemit from last years team. I just don’t have faith in the offense being enough to get us leads, especially because I dont think our starting pitching is going to be all that reliable. We haven’t added a good hitter or a good starting pitcher. We’ve addressed by far our biggest problem but I think we’ve gone the way of overkill here. The bullpen doesn’t need to be THIS good (on paper) and the rest of the team doesn’t need to be as thin as it is.

    I’ll be more ok with this if we keep the bullpen in good working order for a few years while we add the rest of the pieces to make another title run. But of course, that means adding on to what we currently have, plus probably replacing Smoltz, Andruw and even possibly Chipper in the near future.

  14. Lets move Chipper to 1B to save his aging legs. Time for Betemit at 3B ….ooooppps .. JS doesnt have that option anymore. I trust Betemit alot more than Thor.

  15. we all bashed JS before the winter meetings and he pulled off the Ramirez for Soriano swap. This man has proven that he knows what he’s doing. Be patient and see what happens before jumping to conclusions. We have no clue…

  16. A source with the Braves indicated it is a four-player trade, with one player from each team still unidentified.

    The agents for Pirates outfielder/first baseman Ryan Doumit and centerfielder Chris Duffy said they have not been told their clients are involved in the trade. Pitchers Paul Maholm and Sean Burnett said they are not part of the deal. __________________________________________________________ UPDATE 5:52 PM The Pirates’ website is reporting the trade, adding that

    At least one prospect from each organization is also believed to be involved in the deal.

  17. Alright, I like the bullpen we have now, but I REALLY like LaRoche. I’ll hate to see him in another uniform. I’ll be honest; I don’t really like this deal right now.

  18. I agree wholeheartedly with Mac. Keep Gonzalez!! Melky and Proctor are weak.

    If Thorman can’t cut it, there will be plenty of bats available in trade during the season to stick at 1B. My dog could play 1B… okay, that’s an exaggeration.. and I don’t even.. have.. a.. dog.

    As one of the few remaining LaRoche doubters, I like the trade as long as it stops here.

  19. I agree with Mac that Gonzalez is the prize here and it would be quite stupid to trade him for Yankee pooh.

    But I agree with Rob that I still wish this trade hadn’t been made, because I’m a big fan of LaRoche.

  20. what if it *is* Duffy and we flip him to someone like the Marlins for another arm or piece?

    Marlins have anyone they’d move who can hit, leadoff or play 4 or 3?

  21. I don’t think so, ryan c. This is a great bullpen.

    Also…I hope Salty gets a crack at 1B this spring.

    Finally, given this incredible bullpen depth, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they give Soriano a shot at the rotation.

  22. I don’t like this trade, by the way. I don’t think Adam’s going to hit much better than he has. I’d like it alot more if we hadn’t made the abyssmal Marte-for-Diarrhea trade.

    Any of the Braves fans in NY on here live in Brooklyn (like me)?
    Anyone have bars where they go watch? Be nice to watch some games (any games) with guys who aren’t NY or Boston fans, just to mix it up.

  23. Is there really depth in the bullpen? It seems pretty top-heavy, to be honest. We have three studs and then some other guys…


  25. Thorman’s got his shot — 1 year to lock down first base. After that, come 2008, either McCann or Saltalamacchia end up there. With LaRoche and McCann, Salty was blocked; now, not as much. If it ends up being Gonzalez and Salty in the lineup as opposed to LaRoche, I’ll take it. I’ll also take it if Thorman breaks out. Needless to say, except for Chip, Renteria, and Andruw, our lineup is going to be very, very young and inexperienced.

  26. Rob,

    McBride, Yates, Paronto, Villarreal…if those guys are at the bottom of your bullpen, you’re pretty deep, I’d say.

  27. What about sending one of our relievers now to Tampa for one of their young leadoff hitters? I can definitely live with our pen now. Boyer, Devine, Yates, Stockman, McBride, Gonzalez, Soriano, Wickman….possibly another

    As mentioned above I could see one of these possibly moving into a starter….What do we do with Villareal now, another starter perhaps or still long reliever?

  28. forgot about Paronto…

    another thread and another mention of the dang Marte trade. Let it go, please…

  29. OMG, I hope this is wrong, What the hell do we need another infielder for?

    The Pirates finally are on the verge of obtaining first baseman Adam LaRoche from the Braves, but the price won’t simply be left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez.

    The Braves are expected to receive a second player, believed to be a minor-league infielder, and the Pirates also could receive an additional player, has learned.

  30. is reporting that the other Pirate we’re getting is Brent Lillibridge…which would be awesome! Still, I’m taking it with a grain of salt, given the source.

  31. Thorman’s numbers actually stack up pretty well against LaRoche’s through the same age in the minors. Thorman has about 32 more HRs in about 700 more at bats, but other than that, they’re pretty comparable. No splits on though.

  32. okay I’ll stop now…

    update from MLB rumors….
    Pirates Acquire LaRoche For Gonzalez
    UPDATE: A source tells me the Pirates included shortstop Brent Lillibridge in the trade, and it’s a four-player deal. That’s quite a price – Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA system indicates that the college product would be baseball’s ninth best shortstop in 2007 (based on projected WARP).

  33. Stu, I was thinking of another 2B which made me think of Castillo. Lillibridge is suppose to be very solid..

    Interesting deal, to say the least

  34. 1B-Brad Eldred

    I’m just naming a PIT minor league infielder I know. Don’t panic.. though the guy did hit 40 HRs and 28 2Bs in 2005 between AA, AAA and MLB. 159 Ks though.

  35. Link, for the possible deal

    Braves – Gonzo, Lillibridge
    Pit – LaRoche, Romak (Rome OF)

    apparently some Pit fans are pissed if Lillibridge is part of the deal. Any thoughts?

  36. From Baseball Prospectus, which rated Lillibridge as the Pirates’ #3 prospect:

    3. Brent Lillibridge, ss
    DOB: 9/18/83
    Height/Weight: 5-11/180
    Bats/Throws: R/R
    Draft: 4th round, 2005, University of Washington
    What he did in 2006: .299/.414/.522 at Low A (333 PA); .313/.426/.423 at High A (252 PA)
    The Good: Underrated prospect has no real weaknesses in his game. Very good defensive shortstop with above-average range, hands and arm. Solid hitting skills augmented by very high walk rate, surprising pop and excellent base-stealing abilities.
    The Bad: Power he showed at High-A (two HRs in 201 ABs) is closer to reality than Low-A line (11 HRs in 274 ABs), though he projects to hit 10-12 annually in the big leagues. Can get out of control defensively at times, leading to stupid errors.
    The Irrelevant: Lillibridge ended the year with an 11-game hitting streak in which he went 18-for-41 (.439) with eight walks and 12 runs scored.
    In a Perfect World, He Becomes: An above-average starting shortstop.
    Gap Between What He Is Now, And What He Can Be: Average – One of the minor leagues’ hidden gems, Lillibridge might be ready for Double-A. His biggest obstacle to the big leagues isn’t Jack Wilson, it’s Jack Wilson’s contract.

  37. I’m am getting excited now…if Brent Lillibridge is involved it seems like JS worked his magic yet again.


  38. ARGGHHH. This is how JS took the KC world champs and put them on the current (downward) trajectory they have been on for th elast 20 years.

    The end is near! To the fallout shelter faithful Braves fans. Without TBS broadcasts we can stay there for 20 years without knowing what happened to our team and hope things are better when we emerge.

  39. I’ve never heard of Lillibridge (I’m not much of a minor league junkie), but he certainly looks like a player:

    Stu, I’ll take your word for it that he’s hot prospect. I love those OBPs, and while I don’t really care about the SBs all that much, it shows he probably has shortstop range. He may have been the best player on both teams he played on last year, and a .426 OBP in the Carolina League is an exclamation point.

    Still withholding judgement while we wait to see who was included, but this guy has me excited.

  40. I’m hoping that JS is preparing for life without Wickman in 2008 and plans on keeping Gonzo.

    Nevin, I’m a Braves fan in Queens, I feel your pain about the NY fans.

  41. so in two to three years we have a potential infield of Campbell, Lillibridge, Escobar or Andrus, and Salty possibly?

    Mac your thoughts on this trade if nothing else happens besides the 4 players involved?

  42. I agree completely, Mac.

    Although I kinda wish we’d been willing to spend a million on Daryle Ward now…

  43. I still wish we could get Rocco Baldelli, though. Having him in the 6-spot sure would round out our line-up nicely, I think.

  44. what are Thorman’s #’s against lefties? I know he had good minor league stats, but his brief MLB .235 avg scares me a bit

  45. I admit since I found out some more scoop on Lillibridge I’m feeling a little better. Dude looks like a straight out stud.

    We have to keep Gonzo, though. I love lefty closers. I’m coming around on this trade. If Thorman tanks, there’s always a 2007 version of the good Greg Colbrunn days out there that can hit .275-18-75 which won’t get you beat.

    I’m coming around to it.

  46. Ward has never shown much in the majors. Lots of part-time duty with either a decent BA and little power or decent power and little BA. I didn’t mind not going after him hard, but I didn’t know he’d sign for only a million either (not really a bargain with our budget, though, maybe fair value depending on who we replace him with). Still, he shouldn’t be difficult to replace (in theory) with one of the FA 1B taxi-squad types like Carlos Pena, whichever 1B the Red Sox released that played in Japan (found it, Roberto Petagine), etc.

  47. I was ticked when I saw this on the ESPN ticker. But I’m slowly warming to the idea. If we trade Gonzalez for Melky Cabrera though i’ll puke. Shoot who knows maybe we’ll make Jeff K and CSG happy and trade hiim and Salty for gag….Rocco Baldelli.

    The career average LaRoche is a good player but he isn’t irreplaceable. Thorman? I dunno, very LaRoche like minor league career. Shoot who knows one could hope. Maybe Aybar at 3rd and Chipper at 1b but I doubt it. This means that we will be starting a new 2b a new 1b and hoping that a platoon will suffice in Lf. But the bullpen 7 8 and 9 inning pitchers look like the nasty boys of the old Reds teams. Now all that will be asked of our starters is 6 innings.

  48. Keep in mind that one of those starters will either be named Kyle Davies or Lance Cormier. *wretches*


    “The best player in the Adam LaRoche – Mike Gonzalez trade might not be Adam LaRoche. And it might not be Mike Gonzalez. Rather, the most valuable long-term commodity in the deal is Brent Lillibridge, the minor league “throw-in” that John Schuerholz picked up in the deal.”

    So Nate Silver at Baseball Prospectus seems to like the deal quite a bit.

  50. I wonder if we’re going over-board with our bullpen. I’m convinced that our bullpen is ridiculously good and deep, but do we need all this? Wouldn’t a cheap, solid every-day player be better spent on a starter?

  51. i know there is no way lillibridge would be up this year, but for 2008, it would be nice to have him at ss and move renteria to 2nd. renteria said he would be willing to make the change. as borat would say, “Very Nice”.

  52. I’m not upset with this deal, I like it. I may not be high on Kyle Davies, but if he’s healthy enough and gets his act together, he’ll give us the average season the starting roation needs to support it.

  53. 1B/OF Craig Wilson (Free Agent) has a career .938 OPS against lefties.

    Thorman’s minor league splits (linked above) show a .906 OPS against righties.

    Hmmm.. a potential .900+ OPS platoon at 1B??? I’m on board with that!

    By the way, Matt Diaz, though a righty bat, hits righthanders much better than lefties. He’s a great #4 OF though.

  54. I kinda agree, RC. It would be nice to have another starter, but we’ve still got 6 who will be able to throw ML innings for us (7 if Lerew shows up, but no reason to count on him at this point), and that’s without going down the Villareal road.

    I think this trade makes the team more balanced and replenishes the minors a bit, which is something that’s been lacking in recent years. Additionally, we can now have Thorman’s bat in the lineup without forcing him into LF. (That said, I don’t like replacing LaRoche’s bat with Langerhans’ >_

  55. This is a fantastic trade. With one of Salty/McCann probably having to move, and with Thorman practically major league ready, we have a jam at 1B, and LaRoche’s good numbers are a bit skewed by platoon. You can never have too many shutdown lefties, and flipping a non-prospect for one with actual potential means we get value for LaRoche.

    I love this trade. If it ends up being as reported, JS made a very good move.

  56. Lots of great posts tonight.

    I started the evening off depressed when I heard my voicemail after I left the gym at 6:15 & Mac told me we had dealt LaRoche for Gonzo. I have turned around on Adam because of how good he looks by taking his ADD meds.

    I feel a lot better now (long term) with A) our bullpen and B) this Lillibridge kid…he’s obviously a stud so that’s great.

    All that said, how is this group of players going to consistently stay healthy and score runs next year:

    Chipper, Edgar, KJ, Thor, McCann, Frenchy, Andruw and Diaz/Langy?

    Chipper will inevitably miss 50 games and God forbid that happens during one of Andruw’s inevitable cold streaks.

    Frenchy will hit 33 homers and strike out 1,578 times. Diaz will hit a little and Langy will regress.

    We have no idea what to expect from Thorman but I am not overly optimistic. KJ may have a .390 OBP but he may also hit .240 with little power.

    McCann is really the one guy I can rely on and maybe Edgar but Edgar will also inevitably have another 35 errors.

    The point being, we will have an awesome bullpen (though why did we sign Tanyon Freaking Sturtze?) but we have a really shaky rotation with several injury risks and an meager offense that’s going to score 2 runs a night.

    What’s the point of having that trio in the bullpen if we are down 7-2 in the 9th most nights?

    Long terms it’s a good deal but LaRoche was a player we really needed to score any runs next year. I don’t buy 35 homers and .285 from Thorman.

  57. One more thing I want to add now that we HAVE Mike Gonzlaez–KEEP this guy and do not trade him to the freaking evil overlord Yankees for their leftover crud. Scott Proctor?

    Though I don’t love the deal because of the loss of LaRoche’s production, now that we have Mike Gonzalez, it’s virtually impossible to find young, lefty power arms who can be shutdown closers. If the Braves should have learned ONE lesson the last few years is that we need a dominant bullpen. The great teams that win have multiple arms in the bullpen…that we have now with Wickman, Soriano and now Gonzo.

    So while I am very skeptical on the rotation and even more skeptical on the lineup, I will at least say that our bullpen should now be 200% better then it was last year and even the previous few years.

  58. So is the rumor regarding Lilibridge being included verified yet? LaRoche was one of my favorite Braves, but that would definitely fill out two very needy areas with one deal. Hmmm.

  59. Sam,

    Is name calling really necessary? Have we all learned nothing? Geez.

    I was being facetious and Edgar’s defense has been very shaky for a few years now. I know he may not have 35 errors but he’s capable.

  60. Well, considering that group + LaRoche/Giles – Thorman/KJ scored the second-most runs in the NL last year, it should at the least be league-average. And I’m actually expecting more production out of KJ than we got from Giles last year, so that should mitigate some of the drop-off from Thorman. Frenchy will still suck, but he’ll probably suck marginally less, so there’s another improvement. With a totally awsome pen instead of a totally dreadful one and an improved starting rotation (I mean, seriously, it’s improved, at least a little), I don’t see how this team doesn’t look as few as 5 wins and as many as 15 better than last year’s. Sure, it’s the toughest division in the NL, but we should have a shot at the title and if not that, a very good chance at taking the wild card.

  61. If we get Lillibridge, wouldn’t that make it appear that we’ve really soured on Andrus? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him packaged in a deal soon. I have a feeling that JS isn’t done yet – we’ll either get a starter or try one of our relievers (Soriano?) as a starter in the near future (as discussed above).

  62. #68 – Johnny, would you like to explain….When did I say I would trade Gonzalez for anyone, I like this trade. I did say I wouldnt be surprised if it happened, but dont put words in my mouth…

    As for Baldelli, hell I would love to have him. I wouldnt give up as much as you are referring too

  63. Sam,

    I suspect Edgar should at least help the top of the lineup and hit .290+ with some power and take some walks. I don’t dislike Edgar and he is a solid vet…but I don’t love his defense. Sorry. I think he was a really solid SS in Florida and St. Louis but I think there’s some residual fenway leftover in him.

    If he only has 13 errors again, I will be relieved. If he has less then that…fantastic. I will gladly and gleefully admit how wrong I was like I have been doing about LaRoche (who I used to hate when he stunk and wasn’t taking his medication). I actually love being wrong if it means a Braves player can pleasantly surprise me.

    For example, I expect more mediocrity from Hudson this year and more injuries and mediocrity from Kyle Davies…how great would it be to get 2 stellar starters if those guys surprised and proved many of us wrong. Hell, if we get a really good starting rotation (and it’s still possible but I’m skeptical) & our bullpen is also great, then despite a mediocre offense, we have a shot in the East.

    I do like our rotation better then the Mets and I am still grateful to the Giants for signing Zito.

  64. I would love to get Baldelli as well, especially since we can stick him in left and helps offset are loss of Andruw in 2008; that being said, the Devil Rays are unreasonable a–holes to try & do a fair trade with.

    I imagine Tampa will probably ask for McCann, Salty, Chuck James and Gonzalez and will offer us Baldelli and a C prospect…that’s the type of trade the D-rays would do.

  65. #83 – Alex, I agree. JS said he wants to get our pitching back to an elite level. By getting rid of our garbage (Reitsma, Sosa, and Ramirez, and replacing them with Boyer, Gonzalez, and Soriano) its safe to say that we have drastically improved our pen. Basically one of the worst to one of the best. Yes, Gonzalez needs to stay.

    I was a little upset about this trade earlier because I have almost always been a supporter of LaRoche on here and I was even more upset when I heard we were getting another infielder. It made me immediately think of Castillo. After all of this I would say that this really is a good deal for both clubs.

    I agree also, that we may see another signing (Craig Wilson) or another trade before spring training. I doubted JS could get our pen to an elite level, but I was wrong.

  66. Craig Wilson would be a nice, inexpensive insurance policy should Salty and/or Thor both fail.

    And yes, csg, even if we win 70 games this year, I have to believe this bullpen will be really good now and we shouldn’t, under any circumstances, mess with it.

  67. Renteria might not make any errors, but he is a slug afield. I’m very worried about the infield defense, but I’m in agreement with Mraver that KJ will probably outhit what Giles did last year, and I think that Thorman will put up a decent line or get benched in favor of someone who will

    Hell, at least he’s not Rico Brogna.

  68. This is for anyone who can answer…..

    I was listening to a sports talk show on the way home from work, AM 690 in Birmingham, and they were discussing the Braves and the recent trade. Kelly Hunter, I believe, was talking about the sale of the club to Liberty Media. She was referring to the deal and saying that a deal had to be struck by May or the sale would die. It would then have to be reopened to other bidders. Of course Arthur Blank’s name was coming up….

    Anyone know if this is true or is it basically already a done deal with just some minor snags left to work out?

  69. Mac,

    You enjoy that game tonight? I certainly did. :)


    re: Langerhans…why do you expect him to regress? If anything, I expect offensive improvement from him.

    re: Baldelli…I agree on all fronts. Would love to have him, but the D-Rays will ask for more than we can afford to give.


    Andrus is, what, 17? I don’t think this means we’ve soured on him at all. It just gives us more options and more time to evaluate them and trade one for value later.

    How about Lillibridge, Yates and Will Startup to the Blue Jays for Alexis Rios? Get on it, JS!

  70. Mac, I am also a little skeptical of our defense. Especially the days that Hampton and Hudson are pitching. As for Thorman, I could see a .265-.275 15HR 80RBI line out of him. I’m still not sold on the KJ at 2nd idea. I want Aybar there, but it looks as if there is no chance of it

  71. Alex, I think you make really good points, and I started to come around on LaRoche last year too, but I have STRONG doubts that he’ll actually be a consistent player. He’s always been a player with flashes of brilliance and months of mediocrity; medication or no, I’m not entirely sure that he’ll be able to put up two great halves.

    I’m also a little worried that our bullpen upgrade may be less than it appears on paper. The three guys CSG mentions, Boyer, Gonzalez and Soriano, are all absolute studs and I love that we have them, but they’re all relievers with histories of arm trouble, which scares the hell out of me. Thank heaven we don’t have any of them locked up to long-term contracts. I think our bullpen concerns are mostly over, but all the same, if we get a few more injuries to key people like we did last year, we could be scraping the bottom of the barrel again very quickly.

    Lillibridge is the biggest reason I’m happy about this deal. JS made a trade that addresses an immediate need and could work out fantastically by getting us Gonzalez, but even if Gonzo doesn’t work out (like Baez didn’t work last year), then we still have an absolute stud whose presence virtually guarantees that Lil’ Tony will not wheeze too much on the batting order. JS is an infuriating GM, but he’s pretty brilliant.

  72. Mac,

    I understand that we’ll have the worst infield defense in the majors, possibly, I’m just utterly sick of hearing about it. There’s nothing we can do about it.

  73. Stu,

    I was really hopeful 2 years ago that I thought Langy could really develop into a solid player in 2006…a really inexpensive, solid left fielder. Last year he did very little offensively and went into giant cold stretches forcing us to use the defensive liability Diaz more. (Thankfully, Diaz was solid at the plate).

    Regress or not regressing, not sure…I guess I basically just think he won’t do much at all for the Braves at the plate and at best, he’s a 4th outfielder we can start occasionally and use in a pinch.

    And as we agree on, Baldelli would be a fantastic upgrade over the platoon in left. But alas…they are the D-Rays asnd will probably want our entire farm system. Morons.

    AAR…yeah, I know we generally agreed when we were both really negative on LaRoche but I really believe now if he takes his medication consistently, he will be able to stay focused and put up those kind of numbers. Especially with that short porch at PNC. He will be a nice bat now behind Jason Bay. Plus, with LaRoche’s age, he’s still young enough to have 4-5 more years like this.

    The saving grace on the LaRoche deal is that even if he is a stud again, it won’t directly affect us say had we made this deal with Philly or Florida. It would have been even better if this deal had been with an AL team.

  74. He’s infuriating because we live in an instant gratification society and that’s not John. He’s more like the fox sneaking around the henhouse than say Cashman standing at the fence with a bullhorn.

  75. By the way…regarding the Aybar comments earlier. I like him and love his potential a lot. Considering how we keep loading up on infielders both current and future, do the Braves really just not like him? I really wouldn’t mind him getting a shot though I suppose we are looking at him maybe occasionally spelling both KJ and Chipper?

  76. I mean, we have a legitimate leadoff hitter prospect. I figure the Lillibridge is still a year off at an absolute minimum (more likley, two years, with him coming in once Renteria leaves), but it looks like a good move for the future. Also, a middle infield of Andrus/Lillibridge should not only be strong defensively; it has the potential to be a very good 1/2 combo in the lineup as well.

    And let’s not forget that while we only were going to get 2 years of LaRoche, we’ll get 3 of Gonzalez.

  77. mraver,

    I thought Gonzalez is only signed through the end of this season? Did we extend him or I am off on his contract terms?

  78. DOB:

    Atlanta also gets shortstop prospect Brent Lillibridge, 23, who hit .305 with eight triples, 13 home runs, 71 RBIs and 53 stolen bases while splitting the 2006 season between two Class-A minor league affiliates. Lillibridge’s defensive skills have been rated even higher than his offense.

    If he plays well in Mississippi, he might compete for a job in 2008. Remember, Furcal made it up (with very little AA experience) as a part timer who was supposed to split time between second and short.

  79. Hooray. More middle infielders.

    Now we have:
    K. Johnson
    JS Jr.


  80. Wryn,
    this is off topic but i was reading a story today that said Brad Lester was kicked out of school…do you know anything about that?

  81. I agree with Alex R. We’ve gone a bit overboard on the bullpen, which is good if we keep the bullpen strong and fix everything over the next season or two…but (and I don’t know these guys’ contract situations) if we just let them have a great season and then all walk to big paydays I’ll be pissed (Steve Karsay and Steve Reed). I am just worried we’ll struggle to get leads for this bullpen to hold, and I don’t think the starters are going to shut teams down for 6 innings.

    Oh and Sam: Renteria would have more errors if he could get to more balls. But I like the guy, so I wont complain ;)

    Oh and everyone: How nice would it have been for the left infield to feature lillibridge and marte??

    (those last two comments were jokes)

  82. Pope (and really) Campbell are third basemen. Renteria is old. Johnson’s ability to play second is unproven. Prado sucks, and L’il Jonny makes Prado look like Rogers Hornsby. Escobar is iffy, Andrus is further away than Lillebridge, and Aybar seems to be seen as a utility player. I think that’s all of them.

  83. beedee,
    I’ve heard the same rumors. I haven’t seen anything official. I was listening to the crappy sports show here today, and one caller asked that question. The guys who generally know all the rumors had heard nothing of it, and a subsequent caller said he was in class with Lester today.

    I *think* it’s just a rumor – if anything happens, I’ll post.

  84. Alex R., I don’t know if was entirely medication that was the reason for LaRoche’s performance increase. Players can develop without medication, especially when they’re LaRoche’s age.

  85. Does anyone think the D-rays would take Hudson-Salty-the grand Tanyon, Lil JS and bucket of valve stems for Baldelli?

  86. beedee,

    Even if they would, I wouldn’t do it, we’re already short on starters as it is.

    I kinda want to see Salty try 1B, if Thor doesn’t work out that is.

  87. mac,
    how about if we hrow in 2 buckets of valve stems? : )
    in all seriousness…what’s he rule on that?

  88. That would be a horrible trade for the Braves, beedee. It would necessitate both Davies and Cormier being in the rotation, and my stomach just can’t handle that.

  89. The D-rays already had Tanyon but I suppose they are dumb enough to take him back?

    I think my head is going to explode over the thought that Tanyon Sturtze and his offensive/defensive doppleganger, Chris Woodard, are now officially teammates.

    I mean really…do they get any more mediocre then those two? Oh wait…we used to have Reitsma and Keith Lockhart so I will quit complaining!

  90. Stu…if Davies is fully healthy, you don’t think he couldn’t finally be at least a competent starter? I don’t love him and don’t trust him at all to stay healthy, but I feel if he could stay healthy, he’d finally mature and be solid.

    I won’t rip Lance Cormier too much because he’s a Bama guy, but, well, he stinks.

  91. I think he could certainly be a solid pitcher Alex, but it’s far from a safe bet at this point, and if you’re depending on him to be your fourth starter — and with both Davies and Cormier in the rotation, who is your contingency plan? — you’re in a world of trouble, I’d say.

  92. just throwing it out there…dump Hudson’s contract get another bat and possibly make a doable offer to A. Jones…but it was just to get the pot stirred up.

  93. I view Davies as the 5th starter…Smoltzie, Hampton, Hudson, James THEN Davies.

    I guess I don’t even factor Cormier in unless we are talking about Richmond. Davies as 5th starter sounds lot nicer, doesn’t it?

  94. beedee…the one team we could have unloaded Hudson too was the Yanks and their rotation is set + they are still after Clemens; I don’t see even them taking Hudson’s contract and giving us back a bat.

    Let’s just hope it’s closer to his first year as a Brave since none of us are convinced he can pitch anymore like he did when he was with the A’s.

  95. Mac, great summary on the infield situation in the minors. We needed some quality depth, emphasis on quality. I like this Lillibridge kid a lot. What’s Romak’s situation? We cannot trade Gonzalez, he is too good and we have him until 2009. He should be looked at as Wickman’s replacement.

  96. Alex R,
    that’s waht the extra bucket of stems was for (the bat)… surely Hudson will bounce back this year…if not i’m starting to believe in the curse of Leo.

    I guess i still not convinced that we can replace LaRoche’s production with Thorman or whomever else, but hey what do i know?

  97. Thanks for the stats. Romak should not be missed. Has anyone heard anything about Max Ramirez, the kid we gave up for Wickman?

  98. Shh, Auburn’s 2-2 in the SEC, and could have been 3-1 had a last-second shot (that went halfway down and spun out) gone @ LSU. We’re @ MSU, then home vs Bama and Florida. If we can take 2/3, look out!!!

  99. I’m not quite I want to even offer Andruw anything close to a “competitive” offer. The guy is going to get atleast $18M a year, and I’m sorry, but Andruw Jones is not worth $18M when Vernon Wells got that. I am utterly convinced that Andruw is headed towards a decline. He’s gained a lot of weight, he’s not as durable as he used to be, and like many have said, the guy has beat his body up by playing 160+ games for 8 or so years and diving into the earth and walls for the past decade. It might be time to let the New York Yankee fans watch his unfortunately imminent decline.

  100. Just to clarify: I think that for the next 2 or 3 years Andruw may be worth $18M per, but his contract will be an albatross when he’s 35 and he’s a shell of his former self. Most people think he’s a LF already. How do you think it will be in 3 years?

  101. Somebody quickly kidnap John Schuerholz so he doesn’t do anything stupid to ruin this decent trade. No Gonzalez for Cabrera or Gonzalez AND Davies AND Saltalamacchia/Escobar for Rocco Baldelli. Keep who we just got. The bullpen is now really, really solid. Don’t mess with it.

    I wonder what Landogarner is thinking.

  102. “I still wish we could get Rocco Baldelli”

    Not to sound rude, but can we just drop that already? He was mentioned in one article back on December 10, two days later Ben Maller said the Devil Rays rejected the Braves offer of Davies, Escobar and Saltalamacchia for Baldelli and nothing has been mentioned since. It’s dead, he’s not coming unless the Braves give Gonzalez/Soriano and Chuck James, and they’re not stupid.

    No one was even mentioning him until that official site story, now some Braves’ fans can’t stop thinking about him.

  103. Hmm we finally get someone to hit 30HRs as a 1B and we immediately trade him. Gosh, if someone like Bavasi had done this trade, he would be getting ripped. But guess, we kinda believe in Cox/JS, though this is stretching it!

    Andrus, Lillibridge, Escobar huh..not a bad trio of SS prospects. Can we trade Renteria already?!

  104. I feel like Godot at #144, we have or first treu power hitting 1B is a while and we dump his ass like he is a lepper.
    We do have a deeper bullpen which could hang around for a few years, it will let a few of the young guys down there develop(devines, stockman0 without closer pressure and 1B can be found in the open market but we need money for that.
    I dont know, I can argue myself in a circle about this one, but we can hold some leads now.
    50 team saves is possible, that is not bad.

  105. It is probably better to let the smoke clear, before evaluating what looks like a certain trade. Assuming that it is true, I think that the only way the deal makes any sense for the Braves is if another trade is coming.

    Lillibridge is nothing to get excited about–he is already 23 and has yet to taste AA. Just because Sickels thinks that he is the 3rd best prospect in the Pirates system is no reason to get excited. The fact that he may be better than Tony Pena Jr. hardly merits trading LaRoche. If Tony Pena Jr. were the issue, the Braves could simply have held on to Luis Herandez in the fall.

    Giving up Romak may hurt more than many realize. True, he may not develop, but those of us who follow the farm with some care know that Romak has consistently improved–which matters as much as his most recent numbers. I think that Romak has a much higer ceiling than a 23 year old shortstop who has yet to play in AA. Also, when one does look at Romak’s numbers, it has to be remembered that he has been slowed by injuries.

    In both cases we are talking about prospects and like so many neither may pan out.

    However, if the trade means that the Braves are getting ready to deal Escobar (or Lillibridge) and Salty and Davies so that they can get Baldelli, then the deal is more attactive.

    Otherwise, I am not impressed with a deal for a good reliever at the cost of LaRoche. I am one that has long argued that Thorman can be as good (and possibly better than LaRoche) but he has yet to play half a season at the major league level. Like Rob (and others) I wanted us to keep LaRoche and if the deal with the Pirates went through, then I hoped to get a starter as well.

    I have a feeling that there is more to come…

  106. Ugh.

    With Wickman set in the closer’s role in Atlanta, it appears that Gonzalez will be used as a set-up man. Some baseball insiders are speculating that the Braves might be interested in flipping around Gonzalez as part of a second deal. The Yankees, among other clubs, have expressed interest in Gonzalez.

    I know it says speculating and might, and that it uses unknown baseball insides, and I know it’s ESPN (see how they quickly mention the Yankees) but for God’s sake, reading stuff like this drives me mad. Somebody stop Schuerholz before he does anything stupid.

  107. I doubt JS will trade Gonzalez away. Wickman will not stay beyond this season, and it’s not easy to find a replacement who is three years away from free agency. I think JS has learned enough from last season that he is putting together a succession plan for the closer role.

    Some of you may think this bullpen has too much depth now, but a deep bullpen is required for a rotation which can’t pitch beyond the sixth inning except Smoltz, and we don’t want Smoltzie to pitch that much. To be honest, I am looking at this from the team perspective. The reason the Braves didn’t make the playoff last season is because of the bullpen, and JS is fixing the problem big time. The offense will be fine without Adam. My only concern is infield defense, which is not something the existence of Adam will fix.

    I am happy with the trade, and I hope JS will not trade Gonzalez away as some are predicting. Once again, a strong bullpen is required considering the current members of the starting rotation, and a bullpen of Wickman, Gonzalez, Soriano, and McBride is absolutely fantastic.

    Lillibridge is an interesting prospect. We will see how the Braves will handle him. Perhaps the Braves are not comfortable with Andrus defense at shortstop and Campbell’s progress at second base, and they may swtich Andruw to second base and return Campbell to third base…I don’t know, just a guess.

  108. btw even if he is slightly old, if Sickels, BA and BPro say Lillibridge is an excellent prospect, I will take it !

  109. Dan,

    I wasn’t referencing any articles. I was simply saying I wish we could get Baldelli. I know it isn’t being discussed. Simmer down.

  110. kc,

    Once again, you come on BravesJournal and make excellent points. I agree…the reason you add so much depth is because of our extremely iffy rotation. Between Smoltz, Hudson, Hampton and Davies, 4/5 of our starting rotation (except maybe Chuckie James) is a decent to strong risk of getting hurt for a portion of the season, or maybe longer. With that in mind, you have to have a stronger bullpen.

    That being said, as much as I love the potential back end trio of Gonzalez, Soriano and Wickman, keep in my that Wickmania is over 40 and Soriano & Gonzo are also injury risks (all this is worst case scenario stuff but things to keep in mind). Plus, let’s look at the rest of the pen…Blaine Boyer can’t stay healthy, McBride is out of shape and not that good. We really don’t know if we are going to have guys like Paronto and Yates be good again, maybe they will, maybe not. And Tanyon Sturtze, unless Roger McDowell knows something we don’t, still stinks. The bullpen still has plenty of question of marks though we all feel 100% better in comparison to what we had last year.

    Look, I’d feel better about Stu, kc, Mac and myself handling bullpen duties vs. last year!

    That being said, I agree with ob and Old Timer about Adam’s value and I personally became sold on his power potential…and yeah, great point about the fact that we finally found a 1st Baseman who was young and could hit 35 homers a year, maybe more. And now he’s gone. And basically none of us erally knows what Thorman can do over a full season?

    And though I didn’t love Adam’s defense all that much (this point Mac and I agreed on), I think it was more reliable then what I’m expecting from Thor.

  111. Actually, McBride has a fine second half. That’s why I am high on him. I think the Braves will keep Boyer and Devine at Richmond next season. Richmond will have a strong bullpen next season too.

  112. I meant to say ROB and Old Timer (above) not “ob”. Stupid keyboard.

    Re: Yankees/ESPN

    I hate them both. ESPN tends to piss me off year around with their annual lust fest during Baseball with the Yankees/Sox and then their general anti SEC bias during college football season (which is a corporate thing considering the 4 letter is in bed with ABC and ABC is in bed with the other 5 BCS onferences and how DARE the SEC have their own deal with CBS…the horror).

    So, when I hear “ESPN reports Yankees…” those words usually lead to my eyes rolling and general annoyance. ESPN was the main contributors to the daily following of that Japanese pitcher the Red Sox way overpaid for because, well, he’s a Red Sock. Had this pitcher been talking to us or to Oakland or Pittsburgh, it would have been a minor one time headline in the middle of one episode of Sportscenter.

    All that aside, the point that was made earlier about the fact that Wickman is only pitching one more season, is exactly why JS (for as much as I criticize him) couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to turn around and deal a stud like Gonzalez for freaking Scott Proctor and freaking Melki Cabrera. I think even the biggest defenders of JS in here would take major umbrage if he does that deal. If we are going to turn around and trade Gonzalez, we BETTER be getting a really good (and not old) reliever back + a far better offensive player then Melki Freaking Cabrera.

    My boss here at work is a typical New York biased Yankees fan who spent all of the Summer of 2006 telling me how great Melki Cabrera is. This is the thing I have noticed about Yankees, Mets and Red Sox fans…they could suddenly get Reitsma or Keith Lockhart and either could be playing below average and they’d still run up to anyone they knew and tell them how great they are because they are a Yankee or Met or Sock.

  113. Hey Alex, the Braves are supposed to trade their best bargain chip so that the Yankees can have their closer for the future. That’s how they think it works in ESPN and New York, right?!

  114. “I wasn’t referencing any articles. I was simply saying I wish we could get Baldelli. I know it isn’t being discussed. Simmer down.”

    I know. I just had to get that rant out of my system. I read a few Braves blogs, and everything the Braves do leads to Baldelli discussion.

    Braves sign Chris Woodward.
    “Does this mean that the Braves will maybe trade Kelly Johnson in a package of Baldelli?”

    Braves interested in Chris Ray
    “The Devil Rays are too, maybe the Braves will make a three way deal for Baldelli.”

    Braves trade for Mike Gonzalez
    “Mike Gonzalez and Kyle Davies for Rocco Baldelli?”

    I’m just wondering how much longer every Braves’ signing and trade will lead to the “does this mean Rocco Baldelli” thing. It never ends.

    Okay, I’ll stop now.

  115. “Hey Alex, the Braves are supposed to trade their best bargain chip so that the Yankees can have their closer for the future. That’s how they think it works in ESPN and New York, right?!”

    It’s the fantasy world ESPN lives in. They think if they write it, it will come true. Like their “does all the prospects the Yankees are getting from the Gary Sheffield and Randy Johnson trade mean they’ll use them to land Johan Santana, who the Twins cannot afford after the 2008 season” story.

    The Braves aren’t giving up the good lefty in addition to McBride they wanted so badly for an overhyped outfielder.

  116. csg, simmer down. I know that you didn’t write that we should trade Gonzales for Baldelli. My attempt at sarcasm.

    Actually Dan #155 pretty much summed up my feelings on any Baldelli talk. Ok, I’ll stop now too.

    When you consider the makeup of the rotation and the modus operendi of past play off teams this almost compulsive desire on Schuerholz’s part to acquire bullpen arms is understandable. Other teams have won by getting 5 or 6 innings out of their starters and then letting the bullpen hold the lead.

    For years the Braves won with great starting pitching and patchwork bullpens. I guess we will try the patchwork starting rotation and potentially great relief work modus operendi.

    I guess that I should qualify patchwork in reference to our starters. I know we don’t have a rag tag collection of journeymen but a 40 year old number one, a number 2 trying to prove he is not in rapid decline, a lefty coming off Tommy John, our other lefty a sophomore, and our number 5 a guy with stuff but no resume to speak of kind of qualifys as patchwork to me.

  117. Brent Lillibridge is the other player, I think he will be good.

    Guys, all we have to do is tak a lead into the seventh innning and we win now.

  118. A little bird flew in the window this morning and told me this:
    Yankees Get:
    RP Mike Gonzalez

    Braves Get:
    2B Robinson Cano

  119. re: csg #97:

    “This is for anyone who can answer…..

    I was listening to a sports talk show on the way home from work, AM 690 in Birmingham, and they were discussing the Braves and the recent trade. Kelly Hunter, I believe, was talking about the sale of the club to Liberty Media. She was referring to the deal and saying that a deal had to be struck by May or the sale would die. It would then have to be reopened to other bidders. Of course Arthur Blank’s name was coming up….

    Anyone know if this is true or is it basically already a done deal with just some minor snags left to work out?”

    Its true. There was some nice stuff about it in the business of baseball report on theHardballTimes the other day, and I think Maury Brown also wrote something on Baseball Prospectus that dissects what it will mean to the Braves, but you need a subscription to read it. The skinny is that something in the tax laws changes in May that will limit the amount of cash that can swap hands in the sort of stock swap Liberty and TimeWarner/AOL are targetting. So the clock’s ticking.

  120. Some of the comments here…. Yeesh. Talk about pesimism! A few things:

    1. The bullpen isn’t just “solid” now; it’s one of the top 5 in MLB. That’s right, JS has turned what was a bottom 5 ‘pen (arguably the worst in MLB) and in one year’s time, turned it into one of the top in the league with both good strength at the top and very good depth. I’m not sure if Boyer and Devine will remain at Richmond this year, but it’s still nice to have two high-potential arms waiting in the wings.

    2. The offense is still in very good shape. LaRoche is the only good piece that we’ve lost since last year, and we’re replacing him with a guy who should hit 20 HRs if he plays full-time. Diaz is a GOOD batter (which most people seem to forget), and Kelly Johnson would have to really stink to be worse than Marcus last year. We scored the second most runs in the NL last year. It’ll be just fine if we score the fifth-most this year.

    3. The average #5 pitcher last year had an ERA around 6.50. Not the god-awful ones, the average ones. I don’t recall where I read this article (I’m thinking it was in my Hardball Times 2007 annual that is currently on loan to a friend), but that’s what the actual numbers reported. I think both Kyle Davies will have an ERA in the 4’s and if Cormier can just repeat his mediocrity last year and keep his ERA under 5.00 in limited starts, the bottom of the rotation will be more than okay.

    Is this team going to have the dominant starting pitching of the 90s? Surely not. Are we going to have a lineup like we did in 2004? Again, it seems unlikely. But both will be in the “pretty good” range, and our bullpen will be our true strength. If you want a weakness, look at the defense on the infield. The outfield defense is going to be fantastic (well, Diaz will be an adventure when he’s in, but we’ve got Langerhans to bring in defensively when we need to), so that should help make up for it some, but watch out when those ground-balling pitchers start….

  121. Oh, and Lillibridge, while he surely doesn’t have super-star, HoF potential (at least he sure doesn’t look like it at this point), he has gone through three levels of minor league ball in his first year out of college, and excelled in each of them. He’s a good, solid prospect and will probably slide in to our “top 10” list in the 4-6 range, ahead of Escobar. He’s not going to be a world-beater, but he ought to be a good ML regular for 6 relatively cheap years with the Braves.

  122. This lineup:

    1-K. Johnson, 2B
    2-Rentaria, SS
    3-C. Jones, 3B
    4-A. Jones, CF
    5-McCann, C
    6-Francouer, RF
    7-Diaz/Langerhans, LF
    8-Thorman, 1B

    …just doesn’t seem like it’s going to cut it if we legitimately want to challenge for the East crown again.

    This rotation:


    …if it stays healthy, that’s they key word, IF, can be really good and certainly (if healthy) better then the Mets.

    Though I would much rather have the collection of young Marlin arms like Willis, Josh Johnson, Nolasco, Anibel Sanchez and Scott Olsen, I think if our starters stay healthy it’s competitive.

    This Bullpen:


    (hmm, besides Sturtze, there are a few others…some folks aren’t making this team now…)

    …feels very strong. Again, if healthy (the big 3 + Boyer) it obviously should be really good.

    So assuming health is OK for the Braves in general, the biggest concern right now is that lineup.

  123. Oh and projected current bench?

    Chris Woodward (sigh…)
    Willy Aybar
    Pete Orr
    Langerhans or Diaz
    Brayan Pena
    Lil’ Tony or Prado

    Back to the “extra” relief arms:

    Oscar Villareal
    Lerew, Moylan, Stockman
    Joey Devine

    My assumpution is despite all the great new arms, we have 7 relievers again which of course leaves us 5 guys on the bench…Aybar, Pena, the left fielder not starting, and I suppose for now, Orr and Woodward. Yuck.

    I am very interested to see how Salty does in Spring…I hope he breaks out so we have that much less mediocrity on this club.

    As for those extra bullpen arms, with the “top 7” I listed, I don’t see how Oscar V. or Sturtze makes this team, or any of the other dregs like Lerew or Stockman?

  124. Assuming that Gonzalez stays healthy, I like the deal. They can’t afford a big time starter so the next best thing is to construct a dominant bullpen and shorten the game to six innings. That’s really how the Yankees won in the 90s, not with great hitting or dominant starting pitching. Losing LaRoche will certainly hurt the offense and I doubt the Braves will score as many runs, but power left-handed relievers don’t come along every day and, surely, they can find a first baseman somewhere that can hit. And it’s not as if LaRoche is Adam Howard. I think people here are overestimating LaRoche’s value; in today’s market, first baseman with some power are not worth nearly as much as pitchers. And they got a good shortstop prospect in addition. If th e bullpen is as good as it appears, it will take an enormous amount of pressure off a shaky starting rotation, allow the Braves to ease off on Smoltz and save some pitches (maybe he won’t lose every game he leaves with a lead), and put a lot of pressure on the other team to be ahead by the sixth inning. Of course, they will have trouble scoring runs and the infield defense will be atrocious. But if they improve by five or six games in the NL, that might be enough to get in the playoffs.

    There are a lot of different ways to win. The Braves did it with dominant starting pitching for years, but that is not feasible for the team any more given the payroll limitations. I give JS credit for adapting to the situation.

  125. Its true. There was some nice stuff about it in the business of baseball report on theHardballTimes the other day, and I think Maury Brown also wrote something on Baseball Prospectus that dissects what it will mean to the Braves, but you need a subscription to read it. The skinny is that something in the tax laws changes in May that will limit the amount of cash that can swap hands in the sort of stock swap Liberty and TimeWarner/AOL are targetting. So the clock’s ticking.

    May 17th, to be precise. The whole Liberty deal is about tax breaks for stock/cash transactions. Liberty has a lot of Time Warner stock that they want to shuffle back in exchange for cash which would be tax free to some extent. The Braves are a secondary asset being shuffled to Liberty to make the deal “work” for both sides. The problem is that for this sort of tax shuffle to meet IRS guidelines the Braves asset has to be run more or less by committee. BUT to meet MLB rules the Braves franchise has to be +/- 70% controlled by a single “owner” — most often cited would be Braves CEO Terry McQuirk. The IRS rules and the MLB rules are at odds and TW/Liberty have an army of lawyers trying to pick out a path that lets them do the tax free shuffle.

    But come May 17, 2007 the tax laws change and those tax free shuffles become signficantly less beneficial for either TW or Liberty. As such, if the army of lawyers don’t get something cobbled together by then the deal will likely fall through as Liberty has no interest in the Braves as anything _but_ a tax write-off for the stock exchange.

    As fans of the team, we should all probably hope the lawyers fail and that post-May 17 a real owner, be it Blank or someone else, comes forward.

  126. I don’t know about Blank right now; Home Depot is in deep trouble (they just fired their CEO) and a lot of his net worth is likely tied up in their stock.

  127. Thinking about this trade more, this is the sort of deal that the A’s (among others) have been making for years to fill needs plus build for the future. First basemen are an easily replaceable commodity, and we have two options there already in Thorman and, down the line, Saltamacchia. There was a need in the bullpen that we filled now and in the future with this trade, plus we got a fine prospect for the middle infield for the future.

    Players like Prado, Orr, Escobar, JS Jr, and TP Jr — all fungible quantities. It’s Renteria/Johnson now and Lillibridge/Andrus later (and maybe Campbell, depending on which position he sticks at), which is quite the stockpile. With Pope at 3b, Salty and Thorman at 1st, McCann at C, and Frenchy in right, that leaves center and left field as our holes for the future. Let’s see what sort of deals we can make to shore those up for after Andruw inevitably leaves and to replace the Langerhans/Diaz platoon deal.

    The key to the 2007 season, probably now more than ever, is Frenchy. We need the 6-7-8 positions not to be black holes this season and his hacktastic ways just will not cut it there this year. If he takes a step forward, I like our lineup from 1-6 and think we can live with Thorman and Diaz/Langerhans in the 7-8 spots; in fact, I think we could go places if so. But, another season like 2006 and that bottom half of the lineup looks ugly. Gotta have Frenchy put it together this year.

  128. BP is almost certainly way too high on Lillibridge. He’s a nice looking player but as mentioned, he’s already 23! His peak defensive years (right now, basically) will be spent in the minors. He looks like David Eckstein with a few more walks to me, maybe a little better hitter and a little better defense. That said, the likelihood that he’ll contribute at the MLB level is pretty high because of his advanced plate discipline skills. In a nutshell, he’s the exact opposite of Elvis Andrus: old for his league, not known for his tools, plus statistical indicators. I’m glad we have him, but I’m very nervous about the team’s offense for next year.

    I think Craig Wilson would be a great addition to the team, but we probably don’t have room in the budget. *Sigh*

  129. Last time I checked we tried to get to the World Series with a potent offense and no pitching…’d that fare again?

    I know, the whole “pitching didn’t work either” argument is astute, but still, having a balanced team with a deep bullpen is something the Braves are now. This trade gives us the most possible means for success this year and next. Lillibridge is older for his league but still the guy put up the numbers and having someone come up from single A is nothing new for this organization, (Furcal). If he isn’t in the lineup this year he could find himself in place next year.

  130. Alex R.,

    do you know if Blaine Boyer is gonna be ready to go for the season? he might do alright in the bullpen, i liked that kid’s stuff, the little i saw of him a couple seasons back.

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