413 thoughts on “I guess that’s official”

  1. Andruw is not a bad bet at a $500k one year salary as a backup plan, or at least if we have a backup plan in place.

    The reason he’s no where near being a good bet at any cost is because of his past 2 seasons. Just because he is determined to prove himself doesn’t mean he is going to be any better at laying off breaking balls down and away. He was abysmal last year before getting hurt. He was abysmal the year before as well.

    The lost weight to me shows that he’ll be improved defensively and motivated to improve offensively. He’s been in baseball a very long time and has a very exploitable weakness at the plate. The gamble you take with him is that he becomes decent as opposed to horrendous.

    Decent Andruw is better than what other options we have. Horrendous Andruw is worse. By decent I mean the only hitter worse than him would be Francoeur. By horrendous I mean equal to or worse than Francoeur.Hoping for more than decent hitting from Andruw is hoping for a lot.

    You’re just not going to get .260 and 40 HR out of Andruw. If you get .250 and 25 with plus defense though, you’ve got yourself a nice bargain at $500k for the back end of the batting order.

  2. I think somebody posted a link to the picture on the last thread… but Uggghhh… http://tinyurl.com/6tks9c He says he wants to pitch more than one last year… I think he should move to Chicago for ’10, and then retire after a short season in Detroit for ’11… that way he’s got the A,B,C, and D baseball caps. Hope he wins every game he plays that’s not against the Braves. Hell, I hope he wins the AL Cy Young.

  3. If Dunn’s asking price is above 3/36 I’d prefer to avoid him, but not if the alternative is trading prospects for someone who’s not significantly better. I wouldn’t want to go 4 years on him.

  4. To change the subject, signing Lowe may even suggest that the Braves will have more luck with Boras and his clients in the future. Maybe JS would have gotten the deal done, but after a string of frustations, it has to be said that Wren was able to succeed with Boras and in so doing broken new ground. This may be expensive, but given the number of clients that Boras has locked up, it is probably a necessary evil.

    In the simulations of the 2009 Amatuer draft–where the Braves have the #7 pick–a high percentage of top players are Boras’s clients.

    I can almost forget my rage over Smotlz….

    If we can get a righthanded bat, we should be competitive in 2009….

  5. #6 – if we have $40 mil to spend, I dont see us having enough for Dunn.

    $15 – Lowe
    $7-10 – Kawakami (havent heard his contract)
    $11 – Vasquez
    + money for arb players + Ross + Ohman possibility??

  6. All I ask is that the Braves field a competitive team. (If you suffered with the Braves through the ’70s and ’80s, you know what I mean.)

    What I don’t understand is why the Phillies haven’t been in the hunt for more pitching?

  7. If Dunn’s asking price is above 3/36 I’d prefer to avoid him, but not if the alternative is trading prospects for someone who’s not significantly better. I wouldn’t want to go 4 years on him.

    I’d be hesitant to give him a fourth year too. I think he’s signable for three years, $12-13 mil per. He’s worth that. The only drawback to such a deal would be figuring out budget to re-sign Chipper in 2010. Of course, the Braves have a player option on Tim Hudson for 2010 and could easily drop Hudson and resign Chipper.

    if we have $40 mil to spend, I dont see us having enough for Dunn

    It depends on the math. If the Braves’ stated budget of $92 million is accurate they should have the room for Dunn. With Lowe (15), Kawakami (8) and Vasquez (11.5) added into my spreadsheet (and assuming insurance pays 1/3 of Hudson’s DL stint) I’ve got the current payroll just at $74 mil. That assumes my arbitration assumptions are correct, of course.

  8. Sam, we’ll thats good news. I havent calculated anything, I was just going off the $40m number. If we are only at $74 and have $18 more to spend, go for short term deal with Dunn and Sheets.

  9. Adam Dunn is good, but we need a right-handed bat.

    And hallelujah for Lowe and Kawakami. Battousai is a decent nickname. It’s better than Kenny, which is almost certainly what Bobby will call him.

  10. To quote Ron Burgundy, “That is good news! Super duper gang!” Lowe and Kawakami on the team, and he doesn’t seem to be done yet. And to quote Harry Dunn, referring to Wren, “Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!”

  11. You’re missing some money in your spreadsheet, Sam. As I noted in the last thread, we’ve got roughly an $89 million payroll right now, although we should be getting $5 or $6 million of that back in Hudson insurance money.

  12. assuming assumptions are correct…very funny way to cover your ass.

    I think we can afford to bring in another player at around $12mil based on my understanding of the payroll. I look at it as Stated Budget minus total commitments, rather than $40million minus offseason acquisitions to date.

    I’m not sure whether Abreu has 2 decent years left in the tank, but I could live with him. I’d be pleased with 3 years to Dunn. I’d be ok with trading some pitching depth for an OF, but really I dont see the point trading for an OF who isn’t better than Dunn, unless that player comes with a 2 year deal or less.

  13. Mr. Thomason,

    Getting back to the last thread’s discussion on Hall of Fame voting. I was thinking later, that perhaps the metaphor works better to compare voters who voted for 10 guys not including Rickey, to a voter who voted for one of the “major” party candidates in the election, despite not thinking either was qualified. In other words, choosing to use their vote to attempt and affect the outcome, rather than casting it for a candidate they may prefer, but whose fate is already sealed. Then again, maybe I’m just making it murkier.

    For my last attempt at this: I would agree with you that anyone not voting for someone simply to keep them from being a unanimous selection is pretty petty. However, I’m not certain that that’s the rationale being employed, and I’m quite certain that wasn’t the case in the beginnings when guys like Ruth, and Cobb weren’t unanimous, and guys like Walter Johnson got 83.6% and Tris Speaker 82.1% on his second ballot. In those cases it was simply because the ballot included so many players that the voters deemed worthy of consideration, and thus, why throw away your vote on a Ruth, or Johnson, when they were clearly shoe-ins, and you had a chance to advocate for other deserving greats that may not have had the same level of ego, and/or media attention. (I’m not as sure as the Mays/Aaron era, as I wonder if there might have been a racial element to keeping them from unanimity, though that argument wouldn’t hold for a DiMaggio, Williams, Mantle, etc.)

    Today’s game is much different from yesteryear’s, and I think many voters have a different criteria for enshrinement in the Hall.

    As I’ve said, if a voter is under the opinion that the Hall should be more inclusive I don’t think there is anyone here who would argue that these 6 aren’t without a doubt worthy of a vote: Rice, Mattingly, Dawson, Blyleven, McGwire, and Raines. Now, if this voter believes, as I do, that the Hall needs to include some of the finest transition-era relievers because they laid the groundwork for the reliever revolution in the ’80s, then I don’t think votes for Lee Smith or Jesse Orosco would be completely off base. That leaves us with two more spots, and with an inclusive criteria, I don’t think it is too hard to fill them with the remaining candidates: the likes of Jack Morris, Tommy John, Dave Parker, Don Mattingly, or Alan Trammell, and this is assuming you don’t want to write-in the most deserving snub of all-time, Pete Rose.

    As I said, I would have voted likely for Henderson, but I can see why someone might not. If the Hall wants to setup the possibility of unanimous selections then all they have to do is limit the ballot, or increase the number of votes allowed to each writer. Removing the secrecy of the ballot would also likely increase the chances, especially in conjunction with either of the above ideas. Ultimately, I don’t really think it matters though, and I’m sure Rickey doesn’t care… well Rickey’s ego might, but he shouldn’t…

  14. Brian McCann, 3.5
    David Ross, 1.5
    Casey Kotchman, 3.5
    Kelly Johnson, 1.5
    Yunel Escobar, 0.5
    Chipper Jones, 10
    Brandon Jones, 0.39
    Gregor Blanco, 0.4
    Jeff Francoeur, 2

    Matt Diaz, 2
    Martin Prado, 0.45
    Ruben Gotay, 1
    Omar Infante, 2

    Derek Lowe, 15
    Javier Vasquez, 11.75
    Ken Kawakami, 8
    Jair Jurrjens, 0.45
    Jorge Campillo, 0.45
    Tim Hudson (DL), 13

    Mike Gonzalez, 2.5
    Rafeal Soriano, 6.1
    Manny Acosta, 0.4
    Jeff Bennett, 0.45
    Blaine Boyer, 0.45
    Buddy Carlyle, 0.4
    Pete Moylan (DL), 0.45

  15. Wow, I suddently like our rotation.

    Dunn at 3/36 sounds like a bargain, and I would definitely want to go four years on him. He’s kind of a pipe dream, though. I would think with our first base and outfield situations, he would be more valuable to us than almost any other club, though.

    I’m excited by the idea of Swisher. He was pretty unlucky last year, and the idea of upgrading Kotchman with Swisher make me salivate. If we pull Lowe and Swisher, I’m pretty sure we make the playoffs.

  16. @11: What? Are you really saying we should drop Tim Hudson so that we can sign a donkey? Dunn wouldn’t be worth dropping Campillo for, but if we were really going to go down that road we should’ve just signed him instead of Lowe.

    I’d say we sign Andruw, try and get Chipper to negotiate an extension during/before Spring Training, maybe re-sign Ohman, maybe make a run at the two recent Cuban defectors, call that good, and invest any leftover money in scouting, or hold onto it to give us salary flexibility if we are actually still competing come June-July. If Andruw doesn’t pan out we can always find a steal of a deal for another OFer on the tail-end of a contract to fill out the year before the stable of youngsters are ready in 2010.

  17. About the fourth year on Dunn…

    Extending a fourth year to Lowe is reportedly (si.com) what put us over the Mets. If we can commit to a 35 year old pitcher for four, I can’t imagine what would keep us extending that length to a 30 year old position player.

  18. Added Norton and corrected a error in the summations. New total of 84.5 mil, so you’re looking at something closer to 7-9 mil left to spend.

    Brian McCann, 3.5
    David Ross, 1.5
    Casey Kotchman, 3.5
    Kelly Johnson, 1.5
    Yunel Escobar, 0.5
    Chipper Jones, 10
    Brandon Jones, 0.39
    Gregor Blanco, 0.4
    Jeff Francoeur, 2
    Greg Norton, 0.8
    Matt Diaz, 2
    Martin Prado, 0.45
    Ruben Gotay, 1
    Omar Infante, 2

    Derek Lowe, 15
    Javier Vasquez, 11.75
    Ken Kawakami, 8
    Jair Jurrjens, 0.45
    Jorge Campillo, 0.45
    Tim Hudson (DL), 13

    Mike Gonzalez, 2.5
    Rafeal Soriano, 6.1
    Manny Acosta, 0.4
    Jeff Bennett, 0.45
    Blaine Boyer, 0.45
    Buddy Carlyle, 0.4
    Pete Moylan (DL), 0.45

  19. Hudson $13.00
    Lowe $15.00
    Vazquez $11.50
    Jurrjens $0.50
    Kawakami $8.00
    Campillo $0.50

    Moylan $0.50
    Gonzalez $4.00
    Soriano $6.10
    Boyer $0.50
    Bennett $0.50
    Logan $0.50

    C
    McCann $3.50
    Ross $1.40

    1B
    Kotchman $2.75
    Norton $0.80

    2B
    Johnson $1.75
    Prado $0.50

    SS
    Escobar $0.50
    Infante $1.85

    3B
    C. Jones $11.00

    LF
    Diaz $2.00

    CF
    Anderson $0.50
    Blanco $0.50

    RF
    Francoeur $2.00

    I overestimate on the pre-arb guys a little.

    EDIT: I see you corrected yourself, Sam.

  20. He was pretty unlucky last year, and the idea of upgrading Kotchman with Swisher make me salivate.

    Swisher would play OF for us.

  21. Dunn is more likely than Lowe to become totally useless by year 4 of a contract though.

    If Lowe declines, he still may be a good 3 or 4 pitcher, albeit an expensive one.

    If Dunn declines at the end of his deal, the chances are he’ll be blocking a prospect like Heyward who is ready to step in. Heyward may be ready by 2011 for all I know, and for that reason I’d avoid signing any OF to deals longer than 3 years. We have some legit prospects in line to come up around the end of that.

    If Heyward is ready in 2011, great, that gives us a tradable asset in Dunn’s expiring contract should we get him at a 3 year deal. If Heyward isn’t ready by 2011, we still have Dunn. If we sign Dunn to a 4th year, then we’ve got less flexibility to promote the youngsters.

    You can always slot Lowe down the rotation if he gets worse, but there’s no where for Dunn to go if other players prove more valuable.

  22. csg – we lose a second rounder, I think.

    Sam – obviously handedness is secondary, but it is a real concern. If we can trade Reyes/Prado (or something close) for someone like Dye, we need to do it. Especially if it comes out to be cheaper than whatever Dunn wants. Wren says he has deals on his desk. Now would be a great time to make one.

  23. no offense, but nick swisher? thanks all the same, but i’d rather not. between the two, i’d rather have xavier nady.

    csg, I heard that Kawakami’s contract is 3 years, 24 million.

    anyone know if with Kawakami and Lowe in place if the Braves are still taking a look at Ben Sheets? make it so. please.

  24. DOB:

    Had a couple of players confirm that Frank Wren has invited a bunch of the team, the ones who are in Atlanta, to come down to Turner Field for a discussion Wednesday on the state of the team, etc.

    Pretty good move, if you ask me. He wants them to feel free to say what’s on their mind and, I’d assume, he’ll answer questions they have about where the team is and its plans, etc.

    Interesting. I think I like that, too.

  25. From the previous thread – Adam Dunn does not hit sac flies b/c they go over the fence. This has really hurt his sacrifice totals.

  26. lol Stu, i think the Braves learned their lesson about guaranteeing an extra year only to have it shopped around from an earlier botched transaction. *cough* Furcal *cough*

  27. I’d rather have Nady myself, a real RH power hitter. Yeah, Swisher was unlucky last year, but Nady has been steady. Nady for Prado/Reyes seems like a fair deal to me….

  28. @30: Very well put Dix, there is a huge difference between the flexibility of Lowe, and Dunn.

    I’m not sure I would want Dunn at all for his asking price, but if we even thought of going four years, it would be the worst move of the offseason by far.

    Signing Dunn would pretty much make Andruw unsignable, unless he’s willing to sign a minor league deal, so we aren’t stuck with no room for our stable of soft-hitting outfielders. Blanco, Brandon Jones, and Josh Anderson aren’t going to benefit from anymore time in AAA, unless we can trade them, or we’re ready to give up on them, we’re going to have to get them out on the field and see what they’ve got.

    I’d much rather pay Andruw $400K on a one-year gamble, than pay Dunn >$36 million on a three-year gamble.

  29. Handedness matters. If we signed Dunn, the only RH batters in the lineup would be Yunel (not enough power) and Frenchy (not enough).

    Look at how badly we struggled against left handers last year, and imagine that increased, coupled with about 15 games against AL East instead of the Central and the Teixeira / Kotchman delta.

  30. @33 & 34: I love it… and I’m amazed at how quickly Frank Wren’s reputation turned from idiot to mastermind around here all by overpaying for one guy… Of course I’d rather have Lowe at 4/$60 than Burnett at 4/$68+(?)

    This guy knows what he’s doing. Scheurholz didn’t just pick his name out of a hat.

  31. @32 – It would be near lunacy for us to “look at” Sheets. There’s a reason we signed Lowe instead of Sheets. We need to worry about left field now.

  32. @30 – That’s an excellent point.

    I actually think Kotchman will be pretty good next year. Not Albert Pujols, but also not Scott Thorman. He’s projected a line of .286 .365 .450 on fangraphs and I think most would be pretty pleased with that.

  33. Dunn doesn’t hit sac flies because he can’t hit for contact. Looking at Abreu’s B-ref page, unless you think he can’t come close to duplicating his last 2 offensive seasons, I’d say he’s worth a 2 year deal.

  34. not saying he’s a mastermind, but something had to get done, and he acquired two good starting pitchers. i think we can all agree that we’re more pleasantly surprised than worshiping the ground Frank Wren walks on

  35. .289/.370/.455
    OPS+ of 117
    20 SBs
    100 RBI
    16 HR
    110Ks
    80 BB

    That’s worth something and it’s better than what we’ve got.

  36. @44: Haha, okay, maybe I stretched it a little bit. I’m just feeling cocky, because I actually had faith that there was a plan in place… Now, if we can get Andruw signed once he’s officially dropped, and avoid throwing money at Dunn then I’ll be very happy.

  37. @ #34: A very smart move especially after all the rumblings around the Smoltz debacle. Wren’s a smart one.

  38. I like Dunn but not for 4 years. He has old-player skills and they tend to decline rapidly.

    I’m OK with giving Andruw the Javy treatment: a spring training invite. As long as we are just as willing to give the quick hook if he is obviously toast. I see zero risk with this move. I’m not optimistic just because he lost weight. The guy was just cut in WINTER BALL. Last month. He didn’t drop 30 pounds since then.

    Frank Wren has done a pretty good job and I was one of the ones who quickly blasted him over Smoltzgate. Currently we have 8-9 million to go LF shopping. That looks a whole lot better than 3-4.

    Doesn’t St. Louis have a glut of OF? Is a Ludwick/Morton swap possible? Even if last year’s 299/375/592 (good lord!!!) was a fluke, his career line of 273/345/512 would still be the best (by far) in our OF.

  39. Here’s how I envision that meeting going:

    Wren: “I called you all here to discuss what happened with Smoltz and the situation going forward. I realize it came as a surprise to many of you and therefore I’ve decided it best that we have this meeting. I don’t want to hear any public comments or complaints when I do the same thing to Chipper. Any questions?”

  40. I never thought I’d say this but it appears Scott Borass was the “reasonable” agent to dealw ith this time, vs. Furcal’s agents. Go figure.

  41. Random thought:

    I’d put kamikaze in the five spot in the rotation. One of the main benefits of acquiring Vasquez/Lowe is that they never miss a start. Kamikaze will be substantially upping his pitching frequency. IMO, it would be beneficial to give him the extra rest whenever possible.

  42. The outfielder will come via trade and I am afraid KJ may still be on the block.

    I would much rather the Bravos trade from their actual surplus of pitching depth than their perceived surplus of second basemen.

    One must consider that subtracting KJ’s first year arbitration salary would give us a little more flexibility on what we pay the outfielder coming the other way. I guess I would be okay if it allowed us to fit Maggs onto our payroll.

  43. I’d much rather pay Andruw $400K on a one-year gamble, than pay Dunn >$36 million on a three-year gamble.

    I love Andruw as much as anyone. Really. But he’s not anything close to the impact player Adam Dunn would be. At his peak, factoring in defense, Andruw, was about the impact of Dunn right now.

  44. @34
    I got an invite to a “town hall” meeting for season ticket holders on Thursday at 12:00 where Wren is apparently going to answer our questions as well. Both seem like good moves to me. Good to allow the team to vent a bit and also the fans plus a chance to maybe correct/clarify some rumors.

  45. At his peak, factoring in defense, Andruw, was about the impact of Dunn right now.

    No way, not if you’re factoring in both guys’ defense. It’s not close.

    But Dunn is worth significantly more right now, for sure.

  46. I’ve not done the math, but would it have to be something like KJ plus Soriano plus Morton for Maggs?

  47. I’d go three years max on Dunn. I agree with Sam (just like old times on asbab), and have been saying all offseason: we need outfielders who can hit the ball. Handedness is a bonus.

    Soriano for Maggs would be awesome if we have the budget. No way Dombrowski goes for it.

  48. I disagree. Let’s see what Andruw brings to the table after a year to heal before we judge him too harshly. Before the last two years, Andruw put up some pretty impressive power numbers himself. I will concede the difference in walks, however, if you concede the difference in defense.

    Edit: Maggs would fit better than either, however.

  49. I would not do KJ/Morton/Soriano for Maggs. It’s too much to pay. Besides, we do not want Prado behind Lowe for 162 games.

  50. Didn’t the Tigers already sign a guy to be their “closer”? Fuentes I think.

    EDIT: I’m thinking of the Angels.

    The Tigers have Zumaya back though right?

  51. On Sam’s numbers (payroll),

    You should add back Hudson’s insurance. Probably not less than 5. Therefore, the available number is around 15 million. That covers Dye or Dunn (and Nady and Swisher).

    I would rather have Swisher and Dunn. If you move some salary in the deal for Swisher (maybe Soriano, maybe Gonzo, although I really don’t want to trade either of them) then you have enough for Dunn as well.

    On 4 years for Dunn. If you did 12, 12, 11, 10 that would be 45 over 4 years. If you need to trade him in year 3, there is less owing. You should be able to move him ot AL to be a DH / 5th outfielder / 2nd 1B.

    With two year deal for Abreu (or remaining 2 on Dye) they would possibly be toast (completely burned variety) to move next year.

    Ilike 2 for Dye if Kenny Williams understands that2 for 8 per year on Burrell is the best comp on Dye and he can only hope to move the contract.

  52. Before the last two years, Andruw put up some pretty impressive power numbers himself.

    Yes, and Dale Murphy put up some impressive power numbers in his late 20s too. Don’t mean Murph’s a better option for the team right now. I’m a supporter of the “invite him to Florida and see what he’s got” theory of Andruw, but let’s not kid ourselves. He hasn’t had a couple of iffy seasons at the plate. He’s been one of the worst players in the league for two years running. The only reason I’m not *certain* he’d be the worst OF on the club is because of the putrid state of the current OF.

  53. On Ludwick,

    I don’t think he is as good as last year, but he is credible. He has a wierd problem for his career in that he has a reverse platoon split. IF he figures out how to hit lefties or gets a more normal distribution, then he really may be an elite hitter. But, if he doesn’t get lefties, then Braves might as well get Dunn, Abreu, Ankiel, whoever.

  54. I don’t want to think of Druw as following the Murph path, but, yeah, you could be right, Sam H. I’d rather you be wrong, however; but that’s just wishful thinking.

    On the other hand, Dunn’s never met a fly ball he couldn’t botch.

  55. wonder if the yanks would take jeffy and prospects for Nady and swisher.. ( dream sequence begins)

  56. Maggs is under contract for $18M in 2009, the last guaranteed year of his contract. What is nice about his contract is that it has 2 club options for ’10 and ’11 at $15M. The 2011 option does not even include a buyout.

    It seems like the Tigers would have to take on all of Soriano’s contract to make it work for us. That means the other players in the deal would have to make it worth their while. Morton would have the potential to make them think about it. A $2M+ arb salary from KJ going the other way would further help to balance our payroll and might entice the Tigers to do the deal.

    Am I just dreaming?

  57. Cliff,
    Yeah, Ludwick has a reverse platoon split, but I can live with 266/353/576 vs LHP.

    And 316/386/598 vs Northpaws isn’t too shabby either.

    He’s hitting his first arb year this winter. I think this is the guy you take your chances with. Look at those numbers again.

  58. LUdwick would be okay. Maggs would be okay. Nady would be okay. I’m not a Dunn fan, but i could live with him too.

    I guess I’ll just have to trust Wren. He obviously knows what he’s doing.

    (Ain’t it fun being positive again?)

  59. Interesting tidbit from somebody on DOB’s blog, that of the 8 players to ever play for one team for 20 years and then go elsewhere… half of them were Braves (Smoltz, Spahn, Neikro, Aaron).

    I love Maggs, but don’t think he’s now in our budget (he’s getting $17M a year isn’t he? and it’s not a 2 year deal if I recall).

    What sort of deal do you guys see on the table for Chipper extension (if it happens)? I would think something incentivized to run through ’12 with them paying something to the tune of $12M base and an extra $3-8M per year based on not going on the DL or missing too many games… though I’ve not really crunched any numbers (so yes, that’s just pulled out of thin air).

  60. Even if we traded Soriano and they took on all of his contract, I don’t think we have enough money to pay for all of Orodnez’ 18 million. I could be wrong, and Wren has always said he’s flexible, but that would be awful expensive.

    Does anyone have a link that says the Tigers are willing to trade Ordonez?

  61. At this point, it seems the die is cast for 2009 and we will go get a LF.

    Should we have a poll on who it will be? Or are there just too many options?

    Dunn?
    Maggs??
    Nady?
    Swisher?
    Ludwick?
    Dye?

    Wren totally screwing it up and leaving us empty-handed would have to be an option. That’s mainly to avoid a jinx, but let’s not forget, he was fired by this board a few days ago.

  62. One of the reasons I want Dunn is that we have lefty-killer Diaz back and healthy.

    Diaz would be great in that role. Everyday left-fielder? Not so much …

  63. Maggs $18M would have to equal payroll coming the other way plus our remaining budget. Soriano ($6.1M) plus KJ ($2.*M) plus our remaining budget (~$9M) seems close enough.

    I would not trade him if I were the Tigers. That’s a sweet contract with 2 club options.

  64. Morton or Reyes + Francoeur = Dye

    Prado + Boyer = Nady

    Me = Happy

    In reality, probably only one would happen and the Dye deal wouldn’t include the Outs Electromagnet, but:

    Blanco (L)
    Escobar (R)
    C. Jones (S)
    Dye (R)
    McCann (L)
    Nady (R)
    Kotchman (L)
    Johnson (L)

    would be very nice.

  65. My concern with Ludwick is twofold. One, he just ain’t gonna stay healthy. It’s not a thing he does. Two, his OBP is nowhere near as sweet as Dunn’s or Abreu’s — his BA isn’t going to be nearly as nice next year, after he comes down from his .342 BABIP, and his minor league OBP was .345. He’ll be alright, but Abreu and Dunn both push .400 OBPs, and Ludwick won’t even come close.

  66. How about… KJ, Frenchy,+(Morton or Reyes) for Guillen, Taehan and Mahay. Maybe they’d take Soriano instead of a starter.

  67. I’m surprised Kawakami got as much as he did. Still a decent deal, but that’s a decent-sized commitment for a guy who could be anything between Hiroki Kuroda and Kei Igawa.

    I’d be surprised if Dunn gets 3/36. Let’s not forget: Pat Burrell got 2/16, and Milton Bradley got 3/30. These players are not significantly worse than Dunn, and the argument could be made that they’re better. Who else is in on the Dunn discussion? The Angles? Maybe. The Giants? Perhaps, but I doubt it. The Nationals? Seriously? They’ve got 17 OFs and three 1B already. And with Manny around, Dunn’s not even the best player at his position. And if you miss on Dunn, there’s always Bobby Abreu who, though a shell of his former self defensively, can still hit.

    If I’m looking at Dunn right now, it’s for a deal somewhere between Bradley’s and Burrell’s. Say, 3/24? 2/18?

  68. I think Grogan meant Greinke instead of Guillen. At least I really hope he did.

    And I’m calling for a 2/$20 deal for either Dunn or Abreu. If we had to go to 3/$30 for Dunn — Ibanez money, but he’s probably not gonna get more — I’d be all for it.

  69. The Braves aren’t getting Magglio Ordonez. I’d like Dunn, but they’ll probably end up with Nady or Swisher…for something like Prado and a prospect or two.

    Handedness matters.

    No it doesn’t. Enough of the lefty-righty obsession. Good hitters will hit and good pitchers will get hitters out…handedness be damned.

  70. Dan, the platoon differential is very real and nearly universal. It’s one of the primary reasons that the Braves failed last year. Ignoring it is a terrible idea, almost as much as KJ for the Low OBP Twins and a supernumerary LOOGY.

  71. So handedness only matters when the platoon split is real. The main issue is not how he hits, but how he hits left-handed pitching.

  72. The platoon split is real. It is not significant enough to make Xavier Nady more useful than Adam Dunn.

  73. I truly believe Dunn, who hit 40 homers for five straight years, sees more pitches than anyone else, and is only 28, will ultimately sign a bigger contract somewhere. I’m not saying I agree with it, but he will probably not be as cheap as some here are predicting. I hope I’m wrong and I hope the Braves sign him to a 3-year deal, during which time we’d get three really good seasons out of him. But I’m not counting on it.

  74. The Braves don’t need another right handed bat. This is Francoeur’s year, I can feel it. He’ll hit .290/.350/.500 with 30 homeruns. He is not going to be anywhere near his career numbers, otherwise the Braves wouldn’t start him, right?

  75. @ 95

    When you consider that you’ll only have to pay Nady for one year and that you’ll have to pay Dunn for three (probably four), I’d much rather have Nady provided it doesn’t cost us anything of great significance in terms of players.

  76. @53: No way! I’m sorry, but there is no way Adam Dunn is anywhere near Andruw’s 2005-6 impact level. But that wasn’t really my point. I’m not saying that Andruw will be better than Dunn this year, only that I’d rather not commit a ton of money to Dunn, and I think Andruw is a reasonable gamble for such a low cost. If Andruw flops then we’ve lost next to nothing. If we were a surefire contender I might be willing to add Dunn, but with the number of question marks already on this season I’d rather set ourselves up for the long-term, and hope to catch lightning in a bottle this season, rather than commit that much money to a declining player who is going to prevent us from providing the playing time that we should to Blanco, Anderson, B. Jones, et al. so we can get a real evaluation on where they stand… and still not put us clearly over the top.

  77. Handedness really doesn’t matter if the left-handed hitter is Ted Williams. Can we trade French Lick for some of the Splinter’s DNA?

  78. I hope the Braves sent the term sheet to Boras in a form that will blow up if he tries to show it to anyone else. Maybe contain a destruct device that Wren can activate based on any movement towards New York.

  79. Adam-

    He’s also hit about .250 each year and seems to be disliked amongst baseball GMs. He’s got a reputation (earned or no) for not really wanting to play the game.

    And he’s really not significantly better than Burrell or Bradely (who’ve signed for cheap) nor Abreu (who will be signed for cheap).

    Quick thoughts on the platoon thingy: Platoon splits exist and are nearly universal, although they vary in size from player to player. Even the best hitters in the game have them. The reason you don’t platoon elite hitters is that their “bad” side is usually better (or as good as) the backup “good” side. Diaz is a better hitter vs. LHP than Nady is, although Nady is better (mean “a bit above replacement level”) vs. RHP. If you have faith that Diaz will play for your next year, Nady is very close to useless. Nick Swisher has a very small platoon split and would be a better every-day guy than either Nady or Diaz, especially considering his positional flexibility.

    Of course, Adam Dunn would far outshine any of these guys, posting a much better (200+ points of OPS) line against RHP and an only slightly-worse line against LHP. How you construct a lineup featuring KJ, Dunn, and BMac is, of course, another issue. :-)

  80. @91

    Man, every time we faced Cole Hamels last year (which seemed to be an inordinate number of times) you knew before the game even started that he was going to take us behind the woodshed.

    While that was the extreme, these splits:
    vs RHP: .273 .350 .421
    vs LHP: .264 .335 .381

    should be addressed.

  81. @97: Dan, I’m loving the optimism! Keep up the good work. Though I’d put the split more like .310/.350/.500 with 25 HRs, 120 RBIs, and 85 RS.

    Jeff Francoeur, 2010 NL MVP!!!

    Kenshin “The Dragon” Kawakami 2010 World Series MVP… Better reserve your seats now to Ride the Dragon!

  82. On outifielders.

    All other things being equal, if we trade for or sign someone, I would rather they have the ability to play center credibly (Edmonds, Ankiel, Ludwick, Swisher). That gives you a lot of options.

    Next, I prefer somebody with some degree of fielding skill over the stiffs (as in, Ludwick, Swisher, maybe Nady over Dunn, Abreu, Dye). Ludwick’s and Swisher’s fielding difference probably overshoots any of those three.

    I prefer a right handed bat. That makes Dye, Ludwick, and Swisher.

    On Maggs, his next two option years (age 38 and 39) vest if he makes something like 500 PA’s this year. He costs an extra year and 4 million more the first two than Dye (who is probably less of a health risk). No go for Maggs even if it is “take the contract”. “I would take the contract” on an 8 year younger and, at this point, more athletic, Dunn (Dunn was an all world high school QB).

  83. I am tempted to just leave that up there and confuse people, but I accidentally had that in my clipboard instead of something I wanted to post, and before I noticed it, I hit send. Sorry.

  84. When you consider that you’ll only have to pay Nady for one year and that you’ll have to pay Dunn for three (probably four), I’d much rather have Nady provided it doesn’t cost us anything of great significance in terms of players.

    You’d rather have to worry about LF all over again in at least 2010 than possibly have a logjam in 2011? I don’t really understand that. I don’t really want Nady specifically because he’d only be here for 1 year.

  85. Well I was being sarcastic. I mean, can anyone think of a player who has no good track record who has gotten as many chances as Francoeur? I hate to seemingly pile on the guy, I really do I don’t hate Francoeur, but what other non-established Braves player could play like Francoeur has for the past three full years and still be coronated an everyday starter? If, say, Yunel Escobar or Kelly Johnson hit exactly like Francoeur did in 2008 in as many at-bats, would they still be starters for this team? Why does Francoeur get so many more chances than so many others?

    Somewhere, a deserving 25 year-old minor leaguer who has yet to get the call or any chance at all in the majors is looking at Francoeur, shaking his head and cursing how life isn’t fair.

  86. I read somewhere that Smoltz is going to hold a press conference in Atlanta tomorrow. What do you all think is up with that? Is this more public relations warfare, or is it perhaps the opposite, the result of an agreement between The Braves and Smoltz to make their parting look more amicable? Or is it common for someone to hold a press conference in the city of his new team, and THEN hold one in his old team’s city?!

  87. DOB:

    Just got back from Kawakami press conference. found out it was three years and about $23 mill for him, not $25 mill. small bonus and just over $7 mill per season.

    I’ll write that story, then try to get a new blog up

    Even better.

  88. Ethan-

    It’s worth noting that Dunn’s line is better than both of those. So he’d help vs. LHP and vs. RHP.

  89. @53: No way! I’m sorry, but there is no way Adam Dunn is anywhere near Andruw’s 2005-6 impact level

    regrettably, Andruw Jones certainly isn’t.

    And for the record Andruw 05-06 RC/G 6.5,6.9

    Adam Dunn 7.8, 6.6

    Hunh. Whaddaya know?

  90. Kawakami should enter to this:

    [audio src="https://blogfiles.wfmu.org/KF/0506/takeshi/Takeshi_Terauchi_and_Bunnys_-_Track_1.mp3" /]

    The greatest japanese surf record of all time (seriously, you should all click on this – it’s just stunning)

  91. Cliff @ 105: Abreu can play LF. He’s below avg in RF at this point, which is where he’s played his whole career, but he’d be an above-league-avg LF (the league avg for left fielders is terrible).

  92. Spike-

    Andruw’s value as a premier CF vs. Dunn’s (lack of) value as a very bad defensive player at 1B/LF more than makes up any of that difference. Dunn was (and still is) the better player offensively, but Andruw Jones was by far the more valuable player.

  93. Didn’t say Dunn was better – I just thought the assertion “nowhere near” was a trifle overstating the case.

  94. prevent us from providing the playing time that we should to Blanco, Anderson, B. Jones, et al. so we can get a real evaluation on where they stand

    There is only one reason to play Blanco or Anderson; you don’t have a real major league center fielder. I’ll give Brandon Jones another year to bounce back and become something useful at the ML level but Blanco and Anderson are the very definition of replacement level players. Neither should have at bats wasted on them to see how they “develop” if there is a better alternative.

  95. If we can get a bat and hang in there till the all-star break, we will be in a place to make a move or two

  96. If we can get a bat and hang in there till the all-star break, we will be in a place to make a move or two

    Getting Tim Hudson back in August wouldn’t suck for a playoff push. Go get Adam Dunn.

  97. Smitty,
    Your barber said the Indians might be looking to deal Sizemore at the break, and that they love Morton, Schafer and Freeman.

  98. Wikipedia just used his number from when he played for the Chunichi Dragons. He was #11 there too.

  99. Headed to an industry trade show in Anaheim tomorrow.

    Each year at this exhibition, when I hook up with the Japanese R&D guys from the various gear manufacturers, our conversation eventually squirms toward baseball.

    Nice to know that this year I’ll have more to discuss than Hideki Matsui, Kei Igawa or Bobby Freakin’ Valentine.

    So, to Kawakami-san, I raise my glass of saki.

  100. @ 108

    Stu, if the LF is Adam Dunn, yeah I’d rather take my chances with Nady this year, find another stopgap next year and wait for the kids in 2011. I’m just not a big Dunn guy, and don’t want to have to pay $12 million in 2011 and possibly 2012 for an overweight aging slugger who may or may not give a crap about baseball. Let’s get Nady and take the draft picks (again provided he doesn’t cost anything exorbitant in terms of players).

  101. Is it me or is Xavier Nady a pretty average player who played out of his skin for half a season?

  102. I think he’s an above average player. Maybe only slightly above average. Overall I feel the same way about Dunn, though I realize I’m probably in the minority there.

  103. I’m with you, NickC. Nady doesn’t excite me at all. Last year was a career year.

    Dunn’s been exactly the same (great) hitter for the past 4 years.

  104. @137…but doesn’t extreme good plus extreme bad give you an overall impression of…average?

    At the end of the day if we get Dunn I’ll be excited because he’s a clear #4 hitter, which we need more than anything. He’s just such an ugly player. When other GM’s float “doesn’t like baseball” and you talk about signing him for 3 and possibly 4 years…that makes me nervous.

  105. I’d love Dunn if we didn’t have KJ, Kotchman, McCann and our 4th outfielders with Heyward, Freeman and Schafer to come. I’d never give him more of than three year deal though.

    I think we’ll pick up Andruw for Spring Training and hopefully hitting with McCann and Chipper at the moment will help him fix some flaws.

    After that I think either we’ll sign someone at rock bottom prices off the free agent market like the Cardinals did with Kyle Lohse, we’ll wait until the season starts and the Yankees realise that they have too many outfielders and DHs to fit on their 25 man roster, or we’ll do the classic wait until the deadline and hope that we can get Dye, Holliday or someone if we’re in contention.

  106. We’ll be watching a lot of whiffery this season with Francouer, Andruw, and Dunn in the line-up.

  107. Yeah, we have a rotation for once. Now let’s work on the offense. Then when we thought everything is set, the bullpen will be a problem because nobody can stay healthy.

  108. Peanut has a new article up. Among other things it speculates that the Braves have more interest in Swisher than Nady — and that they’re not interested in paying Dunn or other FA outfielders (Abreu) big bucks.

  109. Actually, I didn’t notice until it was too late to edit, but there are 4 pics of Kawakami there. Click on the pic and then click on the arrows. I’ll have to ask the wife what the kanji says.

  110. “I would say that my style is that I put all of my soul into all of my pitches,” Kawakami said. “I hope to show that while I’m pitching in Atlanta.”

  111. It’s great to see a player who is excited to come here, and I really Hope Kami pans out.

    Now let’s get a bat and be done with this offseason.

  112. You gotta like someone who comes to Atlanta and goes to the Varsity….I am envious as its been too many years….

  113. Stephen,
    I missed The Varsity so much from my law school days (which only ended in 2007) that I insisted on stopping by the newer one in Kennesaw when we were down with my parents for Thanksgiving weekend.

  114. Stu–There is one in Kennesaw? I think that the last time I actually ate in the Varsity Gerald Ford was President.

    That said, I once knew of a Vandy student who missed the Varsity so bad that one night he took some of his buddies (Northerners who had no clue of its existence) for a drive to Atlanta so that they could all partake in the pleasure….

  115. I like Dunn, and I think the Braves need two bats. Hell, I think they needed two bats last season, when they had Teixeira. Now they’ve replaced Teixeira with Kotchman and are saying they only need a LF? Whatever. I guess it depends on what the goal is.

  116. We need two corner outfielders. IF we had two productive corner outfielders, we could easily live with Kotchman and Blanco. I think we will only get the LF….

  117. “I would say that my style is that I put all of my soul into all of my pitches,”

    Now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

    Good moves, Birdman. Now let’s get a bat.

  118. Good point, Mac. How about ‘Varsity Ken’?

    Actually my wife suggests “Kendo Kenshin”–‘Kendo’ is the art of the sword–which is a distinctly Japanese way of fighting with the sword….

  119. Well, at least he realizes there is no sushi being offered at the Varsity. I think he will be fine, ha.

  120. From DOB: “And remember, the Braves might have overpaid for Lowe, but they avoided giving him a no-trade clause.”

    I certainly like that a lot. I personally think Wren has a fine offseason, but he completely underestimated the market for Smoltzie and handled it very poorly.

    Up to now, I will give him a “B/B+”. If not for the Smoltzie incident, I would give him a straight “A”.

  121. I was wondering how long before somebody mentioned ‘journalist’ Carolyn Hughes. Anyway, in that link that Ethan had earlier KLaw says “Like all pitchers coming from Japan, he’ll also have to adjust to the larger baseball used here.” Um, what ? I have never heard that before.

  122. Naw – you still can’t let Smoltz leave town. You just can’t.

    I think he will be extra motivated up in Boston, FWIW. He will pitch for them in the 2nd half, and pitch great.

  123. braves14, you can’t make assessment like that with hindsight judgement. Wren tried to lowball Smoltzie all along and he was blind-sided by the Red Sox. The lower grade reflects his mistake in reading the market wrong.

    Maybe I am a bit harsh, but I love Smoltzie.

  124. @181

    Though one would be remiss in not pointing out that Mac has made the argument just as (if not more) convincingly over the years.

  125. I think that a B is an appropriate grade–of course the offseason has a way to go and the grade could improve.

    Smoltz is the main thing, but also I think that he overpaid for Lowe (a minor issue) and Ross. In fact, I wish that we could have just stayed with Sammons, but adding Ross was probably Bobby’s call.

    In any event, the Vazquez deal might have demonstrated greater foresight: it would have been better to do it earlier and add a prospect and then get Swisher (or Dye) and instead of Boone Logan. Of course, this is easier to see in retrospect, but I still wonder about the Logan part of the exchange.

    I also wish that he had gone after Burrell–I am afraid we are left with a position in which more prospects need to be traded or we will overpay for Dunn.

    The Smoltz issue is not just about Braves’ heritage; I believe that he could have been a great asset coming out of the pen.

    Now, all of that said, a B grade is a good grade and one which I expect will improve….

  126. Stephen, Wren actually wants “Logan Boone”. I read somewhere that the whole discussion of Vazquez trade started with Wren asking for “Logan Boone”. I guess Wren wants Boone as a cover in case he does not sign Ohman back.

    In respect of Swisher, DOB said Wren was too engaged in the Peavy trade that Wren wants to keep all his trading cards at that time.

    No matter how I look at it, I still want none of Burrell or Dunn.

    Do we still have money (we certainly have the prospects) to trade for Dye?

  127. Then why as he been talking to Ohman? Logan might be a credible loogy, but he smacks of Ridgeway to me–that is, a bad pitcher that someone in the Braves’ organization has the hots for.

    I am not as negative about Dunn as you are–but I can live with him for a couple of years. What I would really like to see happen is sign Dunn and then trade for Nady AND Swisher. Put Swisher at 1B and Nady in RF and Dunn in LF.

    Now, we would have to give up a good bit–but I wonder if Kotchman, Prado, Soriano, a well-regarded prospect (Reyes or Locke) and maybe throw in Frenchy (who the Yanks could then deal to a small market team) to get the job done.

    Of course, I doubt that it will ever happen….

  128. I don’t mind to have Dunn if we don’t have Frenchy on our team. If you put Dunn, Andruw, and Frenchy in the same outfield, then no base running skill will ever be required. I am sure you can understand my logic. I am not DOWN on individual player, but Dunn and Burrell don’t fit well into this offense…mainly because of Frenchy’s, and possibly Andruw’s, existence.

    I don’t think we need super-power guy, and I prefer a power guy with less power but higher batting average so he can move runners on base with singles or doubles.

  129. I don’t really think the danger of Andruw returning is all that great–but your comparison with Brian Jordan (yesterday) has merit. I think the better parallel in terms of output is Nate Colbert, but Bobby likes veterans.

    I would trade either Morton or Jo Jo and keep one at AAA in case the injury bug bites….

  130. I just don’t like to have too many HR-BB-K guys in the lineup…heck…Andruw is HR-K and Frenchy is purely K…I love our outfield.

    I like Morton, but seems like Wren has no plan for him.

  131. I am not big on Three Outcome hitters either and I would certainly welcome alternatives to what has been mooted in the press. The bottom line is that we need at least one more right hand bat and we do have some holes in our lineup.

    Morton presents an interesting case: here we have a pitcher with great stuff and a confidence problem. Since much of pitching involves confidence, this is quite critical.

    I think that he will do well where he is not in the spotlight. One of the things I like about this week’s developments is that idea that Morton could be our #5 starter and get some time to develop. If he can believe in himself, he might become a very useful pitcher.

    I will be very curious to see what the Braves do with him….

  132. Andruw is HR-K

    Really? The guy hit all of three homeruns in 2008.

    Adam Dunn is NOT comparable to Jeff Francoeur or the current Andruw Jones.

  133. Wren tried to lowball Smoltzie all along and he was blind-sided by the Red Sox. The lower grade reflects his mistake in reading the market wrong.

    Did you guys actually watch/read Smoltz’ press conference in Boston? The Red Sox expect him to return *in June.* The Red Sox are paying him $5.5 million to rehab until June. All he is is a potential post-season wild-card for them.

    The Braves just signed Ken Kawakami for $7 million per year. Now ask yourself, is the thrill of waiting and hoping for John Smoltz to rehab worth 4/5’s of Kawakami’s expected year? Unless you’re judging based on fond memories of the drunken orgy that ensued after the 1992 NLCS – and don’t get me wrong, I remember that drunken orgy as fondly as anyone – the answer is clearly NO. Frank Wren made the correct call on Smoltz. At $2.5 mil guaranteed and some performance/roster bonuses, he’s a nice-to-have coming back as a fifth starter after the All-Star break. At $5.5 mil guaranteed he’s a 42 year old drag on your budget taking up the roster spot of a guy that could be helping you compete rather than taping his shoulder back together.

    Get past the nostalgia and analyze the situation and you’ll see that Wren made the right call there. Boston has the budget and roster to take a five and a half million dollar flyer on John Smoltz, super-ace in the playoffs. Atlanta does not.

    As for the outfield, I can’t stress enough that Adam Dunn is the only premiere offensive contributor left on the market. Xavier Nady is a league average journeyman coming off of a career year. Nick Swisher is a nice player, especially in center, but he doesn’t impact and offense the way Dunn does. Adam Dunn is the anti-Francoeur. He does, almost perfectly, the one thing that Francoeur fails miserably at. He controls the plate. He gets on base. He makes pitchers work. He doesn’t make outs nearly 40% of the time. THAT is an offensive player’s job. Not hitting for average or moving runners over or whatever other clap trap years of listening to Joe Simpson natter on incessantly might have convinced you is the case. When a the plate, a player’s job is to make the pitcher work, see pitches, and when a good pitch is there, hit the crap out of it. If no good pitch is present, the offensive player should not offer at it. Adam Dunn is one of the best in baseball at doing that. Forget batting average (look at OBP); forget strikeouts (look at total outs recorded.)

    And for God’s sake, get over the handedness thing. If you’re in a situation where you have two reasonably useful options and one of them offers you a better “lineup balance” for handedness, you take that into consideration. If you’re in a situation where you could either spend money on an A-level offensive threat like Adam Dunn or spend prospects on a B/C-level player like Xavier Nady you go get the guy that scares the shit out of opposing pitchers. Handedness doesn’t even enter into the equation.

  134. I think John used a little Just for Men for his press conference.

    My biggest issue with losing Smoltz was that it came in what was at the time a wretched off season. Now that we’ve made some solid moves I’m very much ok with seeing him go.

    Dunn is at least a good three outcome guy. Frenchy is Strikeout, DP, and fluke singles.

  135. Stephen in the UAE: You’re posting at all hours of the day! Don’t you sleep, dude? Or are you two people?

    Rob Cope: Base stealing question. Ricky Be Ricky on the Hot Stove show last night on the MLB Network. Talking about stealing thrid. He said he paid no attention to the infielders, only watching the pitcher’s elbow on his throwing arm.
    Took a walk out seven steps and stood quiet, watching that elbow.
    What do you think of that technique ( other than it worked)?

  136. Speculating on outfield prospects.

    Money:

    Swisher 3 at 6 (avg)

    Nady 1 @ 9.5

    Abreu 2 @ 10

    Dye 2 at 12

    Dunn 4 at 12

    versatility / general athletic ability (1-10)

    Swisher 8
    Nady 6
    Abreu 4
    Dye 2
    Dunn 2

    Offensive perf. (OPS)

    Dunn 900
    Dye 900
    Abreu 840
    Nady 800
    Swisher 800

    Cost in players:

    Dunn 0
    Abreu 0
    Dye not much
    Nady not much
    Swisher a little more

    3 year averages on Jermaine Dye make him an almost equal offensive player to Dunn (slightly lower OBP on same OPS give the nod to Dunn). If the players aren’t important to us, then Dye makes sense because of “handedness” on a team that we KNOW has had struggles against lefties.

    With Swisher, his last three years offense is almost exactly as good as Nady’s and he is two years younger and cheaper and (an advantage as far as I am concerned) cost controlled for two more years. Neither is as good of an offensive player as the other guys, although adjusting for age decline and age improvement and “handedness” Swisher may be a fair bet to equal Abreu.

    So, I say get Swisher. Then, you might still have a 2 year and 10 per year you can offer to Dunn or Abreu (maybe go 3 with Dunn).

  137. Dye is really only 1/$11.5M, if you assume the mutual option will be voided by one side or the other, as almost always happens.

    Dunn won’t get more than 3 years.

    Swisher actually averages $7M per season over the next 3.

    Abreu, I would guess, will get something like 2/$20M.

  138. Agree almost entirely with Sam but I do think handedness makes a difference, especially right handedness vs. lefties. Left handed hitters, except for the very best, almost always have more problems hitting lefties than righties do hitting righties, probably because they don’t see them as much. With the kind of lefthanders you face in the NL East, I do think it makes a big difference. Plus, whatever you think about them, those LOOGYs can be really tough on lefties in key situations. On the other hand, if the choice is a good lefthanded hitter or a mediocre right handed hitter, you are obviously better off with the leftie. Same with the pitching staff; I think it is somewhat of a problem to not have a leftie because there are going to be some teams especially susceptible to lefthanded pitching, although it’s probably more important to have lefties in the bullpen for match up purposes.

  139. Cliff-

    Why are Abreu and Dunn (4@12?!)going to cost way, way more than Burrell (2@8) and Bradley (3@10)?

    I really, REALLY don’t understand your reasoning there.

    Moreover, the best reason to get Dunn is that he costs neither players (in a trade) or draft picks.

  140. To me, the analysis of outfielders above makes it look like the preference should be:

    1. Dye
    2. Swisher
    3. Dunn

    Of course, it could all depend on cost. If Dunn gets 4/56, he drops off the list. If the Yanks or Chi-Sox wants too much in return, Swisher and Dye drop.

  141. As for the outfield, I can’t stress enough that Adam Dunn is the only premiere offensive contributor left on the market.

    That’s true Sam; however, an outfielder’s contribution isn’t only offensive. And the point that you (all almost all other Dunn proponents) leave out, is that Adam Dunn is, by far, one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball.

    How bad? His UZR/150 last year was -22.4. (meaning he gave up 22.4 more runs than the average outfielder over 150 games) This is abysmal to the point that it mitigates much of the offensive prowess that you speak so highly of.

    As a point of comparison, Nady has been about average defensively as an corner outfielder over his career and Swisher has been outstanding in that role.

    To be fair to Dunn, that’s putrid beyond even his norm. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that he spent significant time in RF last year (where he was a mind blowing -71.5 run liability over 150 game. However, over the past 4 years he has averaged being a -16.5 run liability as a defensive player. This is neither insubstantial nor inconsequential. Adam Dunn hurts your team defensively.

    Is it enough to completely marginalize his offensive contributions? Obviously, no, but it is definitely something to factor in along with the gaudy OBP and HR totals when considering a multi-year, eight digit price tag.

  142. I like all of them but Nady, honestly. And I still like the Ludwick idea, too, although not for KJ or Mike Gonzalez.

    Maggs remains the dreamiest of pipe dreams.

  143. If the Chi-Sox want to trade Maggs, we better be talking to them.

    Somebody on here said those options for Maggs were vesting options. Cots says they are pure team options. Is there a link to the contrary?

  144. mraver,

    Bradley was an injury case. Offensively, he was better than any of the other DH / corner outfield types in this year’s market (slightly) but he has played more than 120 games once in 7 or 8 years. And, last year he had a nagging quadricep problem and couldn’t play the field. Being able to take the field and make a minimal or poor performance is better than no performance. NL teams (including the one to sign Bradley) can’t DH him.

    Specifically, the Cubs needed to get lefthanded and with Bradley’s switch hitting, he may have been a better option than Abreu or Dunn. If Bradley averages 100 games a year (his career average) then they got took.

    I feel Burrell sold himself low (I may be wrong). The Bradley signing suggests that he did sell himself low. (Burrell has been a lesser injury risk and more likely to be able to take the field than Bradley). Plus the Ibanez signing is the high outlier and further suggest that Burrell was too low. Juan Rivera is a low outlier (almost as good as Ibanez, but health issues like Bradley and , to a lesser extent, Burrell).

    It may be possible to get either Dunn or Abreu lower than I projected. Burrell’s contract is a big negative to the market. Plus, I don’t see many other teams in on Dunn or Abreu (Sox are feeling out Dunn on a 1 year deal). But, I feel confident that, by spring training, one of those 2 can be had for those numbers. So, to compare (like I was trying to do), I think you need to start where you have a realistic chance of signing somebody.

    I felt the Braves should have gotten in on Burrell at 8 for 2 or on Kapler at 1 for 1. If they had gotten Kapler, then I would have less of a problem with “handedness” on Abreu and Dunn. To me, with this team’s 2008 790 ops against right handers and 720 ops against left handers, we need righties or switchhitters that can handle lefties as good or better.

    Part of the handedness thing is making it too easy for opposing managers. We need Chipper and McCann separated by a credible right handed hitter (like Esco 2, Chipper 3, new guy 4, McCann 5). Chipper has never produced the power right handed that he has left handed. McCann is amazingly good against lefties, but you need somebody to stop the lineup from being “loogy’d” in the 6th and again in the 8th. This thing absolutely killed the Braves in 07 with Chipper, Crime Dog, Klesko.

  145. That’s true Sam; however, an outfielder’s contribution isn’t only offensive. And the point that you (all almost all other Dunn proponents) leave out, is that Adam Dunn is, by far, one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball.

    I don’t leave out Dunn’s defensive shortcomings at all. In most of my posts here I have made some point to the effect of “Go get Dunn and tell Josh Anderson to be ready to defend in th 7th, 8th and 9th.” While I’m not completely sold on UZR’s run calcs I certainly recognize the fact that Dunn is a bad defender. But I don’t think he’s so bad a defender that he makes up the difference between his gaudy offense and Nady’s rather pedestrian bat. I would have supported the Furcal-to-2B, KJ to LF move because you’d have been improving defense at both positions, adding Furcal’s offense (over Blanco/Anderson). That would be roughly equivalent to Dunn’s OPS advantage. But without the Furcal defensive advantage and the Furcal offensive bump, you’re left with Xavier Nady, and he’s just not going to close that gap at all. He’s just not that good. He’s this year’s model of BJ Surhoff.

  146. I wouldn’t trade any of our non-pitchers, either in the farm or on the MLB roster at this point. We need hitters and we have a lot of pitchers. Seems like the thing to do would be to buy a hitter or trade pitchers for one.

  147. MEEKSMEEKSMEEKSMEEKS!!!!

    Sorry, had to do that.

    Back to the Braves:

    One reason I like Dunn on next year’s team is that I think we will need to win games 6-5 about ninety times to make the playoffs. And I think Dunn helps us do that.

    I also think it’s possible to ultimately move him to 1B when the more prototypical LF candidate emerges.

    And, again, don’t forget about Diaz against lefties. Dude has one remarkable skill and that’s hitting lefties.

    And for all that is holy, don’t let Bobby put a lineup out there that includes Andruw AND Francouer. Talk about saltpeter on the food …

  148. Another lineup thing may be to move Chipper down. I know he doesn’t like that, but what about

    4. Chipper
    5. New guy
    6. McCann

    Everybody else would sort like this, maybe.

    Lefthander:

    1. Diaz/ Esco
    2. KJ
    3. Esco/ Diaz

    7. Frency(if not replaced)
    8. Kotchman

    Righthander:
    1. Blanco

    2. Esco

    3. KJ

    7. Kotchamn
    8. Frenchy

    After doing this it kind of seems obvious that this would only work if Swisher is “new guy” because you can’t platoon Diaz into center.

    If “new guy” effectively replaced Francoeur (Dye or Abreu), and if Diaz/ Blanco covered left and if Schafer covered center, then that wouldn’t be so bad.

    But, you get back to the fact that we need 2 new guys in the outfield (unless 2007 or better Francoeur shows up, which I doubt).

  149. That MLB Network is very addictive, even if it seems that the “Hot Stove” show is on 12 hours a day. But yeah, that bit with Rickey (and Barry Larkin/Harold Reynolds) was pretty cool.

  150. I second pretty much everything Sam said, including the handedness thing.

    Also, Adam Dunn is a LF. LFs are supposed to be awful defensively. That’s where you’re supposed to stick your good offensive player that you have no defensive place for. So will he be bad, yes. But if he’s in left field, it’s really not gonna make that much of a difference. Plus, since our problem is offensive, shouldn’t we be looking more at that anyway and not really worrying so much about defense? This obsession with getting a good defensive LF is, I must admit, beginning to perplex me.

  151. ububba you’re not kidding. I’m going to have to come up with some way to forget about it or I’ll never leave the sofa/chair/somewhere with a TV. I don’t actually watch any TV shows regularly now, and last year all I watched was baseball games. But if allowed I’d be watching MLB Network all the dang time.

  152. Take anyone on the team from the MLB down to the AA level and drop them at first base and they defend it better than Adam Dunn does.

  153. Kevin,

    Watching infielders can only hurt you. In a bunt situation, a lot of defenses put on a wheel play. You’ll see a lot of pick-offs on the bunt wheel play defense because a runner on second gets distracted by the shortstop cutting in front of him, and then you’re picked.

    If you’re on second, and there’s a runner at first with less than two outs, then the middle infielders are going to most likely be at double-play depth anyway, which won’t tell you whether or not they’re trying to cheat to break to the bag. I’ve always been taught to look at the pitcher’s elbow or his hips, and there’s advantages and disadvantages to both. I like his hips because his hips are going to tell you where he’s going before his elbow will. Either way, you’re getting a better read on the pitcher than if you’re checking out the middle infielders.

  154. Also, Adam Dunn is a LF.

    I’d take this one step further. Dunn is a LF/1B. While the gaping chest wounds in this offense are on the outfield corners that doesn’t mean there aren’t other serious wounds to address elsewhere. Due to the severity of the former everyone looks past the bullet holes at first base and just sort of hopes Kotchman puts up something useful. While that’s more likely than Jeff Francoer ever being a productive major leaguer (or Andruw Jones rebounding to 2005 form and saving us all) it’s not a given. And if he doesn’t it sure would be nice to have Adam Dunn banging around LF and Jason Heyward asking “what else is there to prove down here” than being stuck with Rico Brogna revisited and the prayer than Freeman progresses faster than he will.

  155. @182

    I’ve heard the smaller ball thing quite a bit too. I don’t know how that relates to transitioning from Japanese baseball to American baseball. For pitchers, obviously a smaller ball is tougher to get good wood on, but it would also hinder breaking pitches that he throws. For a hitter, obviously a smaller ball is tougher to hit, but I’d imagine it’d carry better.

    Does anyone else know about the ball Japanese baseball uses?

  156. @217 – FJM would have loved that post

    So will he be bad, yes. But if he’s in left field, it’s really not gonna make that much of a difference

    So if we follow your line of reasoning, Tampa Bay receives no utility for Carl Crawford’s defense simply because he’s in left field? Just because most left fielders aren’t great defenders doesn’t mean that their teams aren’t affected by that poor defense.

    You make my point. That is what makes Dunn’s defensive metrics so appalling. He isn’t being compared to Ichiro, Beltran, and Sizemore. He is being compared to Manny Ramirez, Pat Burrell, and Jack Cust.

    shouldn’t we be looking more at that anyway and not really worrying so much about defense?

    No. Defense has been undervalued. This is why Burrell signed for 8 MM, Philly was bashed for the Ibanez signing, and Dunn is still without a job. If the pendulum swing too far the other way, (as some said it did with Burrell) then it would be smart to jump in. But ignoring defense is stupid.

  157. I’m not sure why we’re so concerned with Dunn’s defense when we’ve been regularly trotting out Infante and Norton in LF, and before that we had Diaz, who went through some early rough patches. And Thorman. Yeesh.

  158. White Sox apparently want a deal of Chone Figgins for Dye. Angels aren’t interested.

    What about Blanco / Anderson with Prado. That gets “speed guy in outfield” and “utility around the infield.” Maybe throw in a live arm and get back a low minors guy.

    If we don’t give up much in players, Dye looks good. I wasn’t aware that his contract was mutual option after this year until somebody posted that earlier.

    If we could get Dye without giving up Blanco that would be better. I really feel Blanco can 300 380 400 (or better) against righthanders pretty easily. I don’t think he is credible against leffties. That is why Swisher and Kapler make and made sense for us.

    Our two speed guys in the outfield are less than mediocre lefthanded hitters (Blanco / Anderson). Our next plan for center, after those 2, is Schafer who is a better offensive player than Blanco or Anderson, but hasn’t yet proved he can hit lefties either (and probably needs to stay down a while until he does that). So, we can’t stand the center field suckitude of Blanco and / or Anderson / and / or Schafer against lefties.

    Swisher would let us play him in center against lefties, play Blanco against righties and move Swisher to right (because Francoeur will probably revert to 280 / 325/ 430 against lefties and 250/ 290 / 350 against righties).

    And, with Swisher at 5.5 this year, increasing for two years, we “might” be able to add Dye if we move payroll in the Swisher deal (and the only way to do that would be to move Soriano or Gonzo and I don’t really want to do that). Or maybe with an extra player, the White Sox would eat some salary.

  159. @227… the difference being that Andruw would likely get to the ball.

    Of course the wind from both of their Ks would cause weather problems… the difference being that Dunn would end up on base regularly.

  160. Kevin Lee–the UAE is 9 hours ahead of the East Coast–I can post in the morning and late at night (EST). However, I miss the middle of day discussion which all of you guys have.

    Fortunately, KC is in Hong Kong and 4 hours ahead of me, which enables me to enjoy his postings. At times last summer if felt as if KC and I were the Braves Journal night shift….

    Anyway, given the above discussion, I am guessing that the Braves will go with Nady. I think after the Lowe deal, Wren is not afraid to do business with Boras so even though we would only control Nady for a year, I don’t think it will bother Wren…

  161. Alright, then. If I’m vastly undervaluing defense, then you’re vastly undervaluing power. This team had absolutely no power last year after Tex left, and as currently constituted, will not again. Jermaine Dye is not going to provide that power. Adam Dunn will. We have got to have a legitimate 30-40 HR threat in our lineup. Last year without that was disastrous on a variety of levels. Not the least of which is that Bobby cannot manage when he’s not managing for the three-run homer. When he tries to delve into small ball, it’s pretty awful, as we’ve seen. But outside of that, we cannot operate without a legitimate power threat in our lineup, and we don’t have one right now. If it takes bad defense in a position where you can expect bad defense, I think I can probably live with that. Dye would be better than what we have now, but a) not nearly as good as everyone thinks he is…he never has been, and b) we would still have no power threat in our lineup whatsoever. That is a problem. A far bigger problem than decreased defense at a position where everyone has no defense.

  162. And incidentally, Xavier Nady sucks. I’ve yet to figure out why anybody wants to trade for him.

    And also, we already have an excellent defensive 1B, which is the other position people stick crappy defensive players, so we can afford to have a crappy LF even more than most teams, really.

  163. Gosh, Adam Dunn hit 40 homers and 23 doubles last year, and slugged .513. Jermaine Dye hit 34 homers and 41 doubles and slugged .541. I can’t quite see how Dunn would add power and Dye wouldn’t.

  164. If Nady sucks, then the rest of our OF is near death.

    Is this even a debate? A major problem with Atlanta’s 2008 team and their current lineup in 2009 is that they’re starting three fifth outfielders (at best.) There isn’t a single outfielder on the Braves roster who would play every day on a legitimate playoff contender. NOT A SINGLE ONE. When Jeff Francoeur and the blind hope that he’ll “bounce back” to an OPS just approaching 800 is your BEST OPTION you suck. You are not good. You absolutely suck. Our options in center make Ryan Langerhans look like an All-Star. Josh Anderson might deserve a middling career as a defensive backup, and Gregor Blanco could be useful as a fifth OF/pinch runner on a good team, but those guys are STARTING. Is Xavier Nady better than Josh Anderson? Yeah. Sure. Pry the corpse of Jim Edmonds off the frying pan and he’d out play Anderson too. That doesn’t mean either of those guys is *GOOD*. Better than horrible doesn’t equal good.

  165. Sam- Anderson and Blanco are good enough to be quality 4th OFs or 8-hole everyday CFs for winning teams. I’m not saying that makes them great shakes starting in LF and hitting leadoff. I’m just saying they’re not worthless.

    With a power bat in LF and a willingness to bench Frenchy, this OF could be decent enough to be carried by the infield and pitching staff (<– now the strength of the team).

  166. Just signed on to say that there is a new addition to the Braves Nation. My daughter was born at 10:30 last night at 6 1bs 12 oz.

    And just to add to my excitement, I find that we have signed both Kawakami and Lowe. Go Braves!

  167. Hey Joshua, congrats!! Good to know there is another new father here. I hope everything goes well for you guys.

  168. Congratulations Joshua!! It is good to know that Braves Nation has a new member.

    An old friend sent my 6 month old son a gift–Braves’ baby clothes….its never too young!

    Congratulations again!

  169. Dix at 231,

    You didn’t say who, but because I have advocated Swisher over Abreu, I will now explain.

    Swisher’s 3 year average OPS is 800. Abreu’s is around 850. Swisher’s 3 year includes an extremely unlucky 2008. (incidentally, Swisher is about 1 or 2 OPS points HIGHER than Nady over the last three years). With normal aging patterns, Swisher at 28 should gain, Abreu at 34 should drop. Overall, offense goes to Abreu, but by a surprisingly thin thread.

    Abreu is noted as one of the worst right fielders in all of MLB by most of the defensive metrics. Swisher is “so so” in center, plus in left and right. The ability to play center gives us options to cover up how bad Blanco and Anderson hit against lefties. Abreu CANNOT play center (he can’t play right and he would probably be bad in left on all tools other than throwing arm).

    Swisher is better against lefthanded pitching, which is the second biggest problem with this team’s offense (after Cox’s mismangement by bunt and AHEAD of general lack of power BECAUSE IT IS POWER AGAINST LEFTIES, that is the power problem). Abreu has almost no ISO against lefties.

    Swisher will cost 21 million over the next 3 years on a slightly increasing scale. You don’t want to go 3 years on Abreu and I don’t believe he will be signed for less than 10 a year, 2 year minimum. Also on cost, I am pretty sure this year Swisher is 5.5. That means if we get Swisher, we “might” have enough room to get an Abreu or Dunn, too (particularly if the market continues to stall).

    Swisher is as good offensively as Nady at a lower cost and better defensively. He is better defensively than Abreu, Dunn, or Dye and far more versatile. Swisher is the cheapest of all of these prospective outfielders and at numbers that aren’t scary out to his whole contract (when I found out about “mutual option” on Dye, I had to swallow a little. Basically, if you get good Dye, he is here for one year. If you get bad Dye, you can get rid of him, but then you have to find somebody.)

    As an alternative to Swisher, I propose Ludwick. Or, maybe signing Dunn or Abreu and going after Nelson Cruz. Texas wants and needs pitching. Morton or Reyes ought to have a shot at bringing back Cruz (who is blocked over there).

    Is there a convenient tool or site that shows who must be on a 25 man roster at the end of spring training or else be waived? I am curious about the Braves (I think we have several, maybe Stockman, Lerew, Boyer) and also about these other guys (like the Rangers with Cruz). I really think we need to deal some of that secondary talent anyway.

  170. That’s awesome Joshua. Congratulations

    Olney has a new link up about the offseason. Says we should have signed Cabrera and traded for Peavy because (in a nutshell) Peavy is better than Lowe and Lowe is actually costing more.

    I usually like Olney’s writing, but for him to ignore the cost to the farm in the potential Peavy deal and the additional cost (plus opportunity cost) of signing Cabrera seems like an unusual oversight. Granted he make some points, but I don’t feel that anything we’ve done is indefensible. Plus, I’m feeling semi-confident we can get 750 IP from our top 4 starters, and there’s something to be said for that.

  171. I usually like Buster Olney, but I think he gets it all wrong in this piece: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3831815&name=olney_buster

    First, I don’t think the Peavy talks were much more complex (and never as close) as he makes them out to be. And the difference between Boyer and Locke is not the trifling matter he makes it out to be.

    Plus, he notes that the Braves outbid other teams on Lowe and Kawakami. Really, Buster, is that the way free agency works? Players take the highest offer? Huh.

    Edit: Ethan, great minds . . .

  172. Thanks Jay for the post. I don’t think the Peavy deal was anywhere near getting done, but Olney is on more solid ground in talking about the way the Braves went for Lowe. It may all turn out well for the Braves, but even if it doesn’t Boras will be smiling….

  173. I just finished my Renaissance lit prelim exam (still have the oral component to go). I cited former commissioner Giamatti in one of my responses. That was pretty cool.

  174. AAR,
    I don’t think Dye is quite the injury risk you make him out to be. Since he turned 30 (in 2004), he’s played 144 games a season, with a low of 137. He’s coming off a year in which he played 154.

    He’s no Iron Horse, but he ain’t exactly Chipper (124 average, 137 high in that same period), either.

  175. Ideally, we’d be choosing between Blanco and Anderson for a roster spot as backup OF — Norton and Infante (and Prado) also being able to go catch some fly balls. Along with Ross (who I happen to like), that’s a good bench.

    Unfortunately, we have room for both of them, along with Diaz, Frenchy, and Kotchman.

    Right now, KJ and Yunel are clearly our 3rd & 4th (or vice versa) best offensive players. We need 1) someone else to hit significantly better than them, and 2) someone else to hit about as well as them. Kotchman circa ’07 could be the latter. His mechanics were screwed up last year, but he’s young and can snap back. I like Swisher for the former — he was that good in ’06 and ’07, and he can play CF, which we might very well need in the event Anderson can’t do the job (a decent bet to say the least).

    IOW, I’d be willing to just get Swisher and see y’all in February.

  176. Sam- Anderson and Blanco are good enough to be quality 4th OFs or 8-hole everyday CFs for winning teams. I’m not saying that makes them great shakes starting in LF and hitting leadoff. I’m just saying they’re not worthless.

    I respectfully disagree, at least as respectfully as one can disagree on internet forums. The first test of any new prospect called up to the major – non pitching vareities – is “can I knock the bat out of his hands?” Why do you think Jeff Francoeur hit like Barry Bonds for 30 days in 2005? Because ML pitchers did what they always do with new kids and threw fastballs across the plate to see if they could knock the bat out of his hands. They could not, thus Francoeur was a “superstar” until pitchers adjusted and started throwing breaking balls off the plate, at which point he was a black hole eating outs while hiding it with all of his first month slugging. Gregor Blanco didn’t even make it that far. He stepped in, ML pitchers threw fastballs at him and knocked the bat out of his hands. ML pitchers then continued to throw fastballs past him, knowing the worst he’d ever do was slap a weak double into a gap, if that. His only minor league skill, OBP, cratered because the big boys didn’t nibble around trying to get him out any more. They just overpowered him. Unless he develops some sort of power he will never be anything other than a pinch runner. He makes DeWayne Wise look burly by comparison.

    Josh Anderson is a little better, but not that much. His 2008 looks a lot like Ryan Langerhans’ 2006, and I think we all know where that ended up. He’s a better option than Blanco, by all accounts, but that doesn’t mean he should be anywhere near the starting nine for a contender.

    Matt Diaz is pretty good at the plate, if he doesn’t have to hit RHP and can avoid cement walls. Unfortunately there are quite a few RHP in the major leagues.

  177. Diaz ’08 was rough against RHP, but in 06 and 07 he was hitting .358 and .315 against them… not too shabby. Cement walls are another issue.

    I don’t think Blanco is quite good enough to be a legit 4th outfielder, but Anderson has a shot at it (though he’d need more playing time to know for sure).

  178. Anderson’s done nothing but hit .300 in his pro career, including his 200+ ABs at the ML level. Why do you expect he’d suddenly become inept?

    And Blanco walks. A lot. If he had any power at all or marginally better contact and base-stealing skills, I’d think he could be a decent leadoff type. He doesn’t, so he’s really just a 4th OF that won’t kill you pinch hitting for the pitcher to lead off an inning. But these are useful bench players to have.

  179. Sam @ 258, Charles P at 260,

    On further reflection, Blanco is a little worse than I remembered. Early last year he had a substantial platoon split. He ended with a small reverse split. His ISo was .020 against righhanders and .050 against lefthanders. OW!!!

    However, he did OBP over 360 both ways. So, if you could get Blanco’s offense with Anderson’s speed and defense, then you might have a real centerfield playing lead off hitter. Blanco did OPS over 1.000 in about 16 games in the Venezuelan league. I don’t think it means much, but there is hope.

    At Blanco’s age, he should gain power (like from 050 to 080?). He should gain walk rate (which is already pretty good).

    Diaz’ problem in his first few trips to the big leagues (with Royals) was he couldn’t hit righhanders at all. he hit them very well for average in the Minors.

    In 06, he had his first year iwth the new contact(s) to help his lack of depth perception. Then, he smoked righthanders for line drives almost as well as he had lefthanders before.

    His ISO was still bad against righthanders in 06 and 07, pretty good against lefties (150 or so). HIs walk rate is awful. His fielding is better than it looks (IF the knee comes back). Actually plus minus had him about as high per inning played as anybody in left in 07 and 06.

    Diaz against lefties projects pretty well at about 330 / 370 / 480 (850 ops). Against righties, more like 300 / 330 / 420.

    He needs to be prisoner of McCann’s dad with Schafer’s pitching machine with Dr. Llewellyn giving him visualitzation exercises for about 6 weeks. If Diaz would just raise his walk rate to 10% (and it isn’t like they don’t throw him plenty enough bad pitches for him to do that), then his ISO would jump 30 to 50 points and his OBP would go up 50 or so and he would be a real quality major league player.

  180. Anderson’s done nothing but hit .300 in his pro career, including his 200+ ABs at the ML level. Why do you expect he’d suddenly become inept?

    200 ABs aren’t particularly impressive. If he could play every day and hit 295/360/430 he’d be an adequate centerfielder. Until he shows that sort of skill, he’s a defensive backup.

  181. Also, more than once the Braves sent out messages about not liking the fact that Anderson didn’t go to winter ball, so I don’t think he is going to get the benefit of the doubt with Cox or FO.

  182. Cliff, I’m a fan of Diaz and hope he does get the knee working and get the chance to increase his walks a bit… I like that he doesn’t LOOK like he knows what he’s doing on the field, but actually performs OK (well… in 06 and 07 anyway).

    I thought Blanco had done better than he did initially too, then I went and looked at how he went downhill as the year went on (he finished at .250 avg, but had that first month at .371… meaning the drop off from that month was pretty steep). He is young and can improve…

    I think our biggest problem now is that we have a bunch of guys who wouldn’t be bad as the 3rd or 4th outfielder if the other two positions were held by somebody GOOD. I’m sure I’d LIKE for us to add two OF bats, but if we get ONE good one I’d be OK to let these guys all try and work into the job a bit.

  183. How did Gregor Blanco walk so much? 74 walks in 430 at-bats in 2008 is great. But he slugged .309. Why weren’t pitchers throwing strikes to a one-dimensional singles hitter? The worst he’d likely do is hit a single, which in most cases isn’t any different from a walk.

    Blanco: .251/.366/.309, 1 homerun and an 81 OPS+. He is a fourth outfielder, and so is Anderson. Blanco also struck out 99 times, which surprised me considering all the times I can specifically recall Joe Simpson saying Blanco “never strikes outs.”

  184. Blanco also struck out 99 times, which surprised me considering all the times I can specifically recall Joe Simpson saying Blanco “never strikes outs.”

    Your primary mistake is listening to Joe Simpson.

  185. Sheesh! From ESPN chat – what could’ve been:

    Jason (Charlotte): Can you imagine the Atlanta system if they hadn’t made the Teixeria trade. Who would be number 1? Hanson, Feliz, Heyward, ??

    John Manuel: (2:49 PM ET ) Jason, I almost cannot imagine that. I ranked Feliz a notch ahead of Hanson in my personal top 50, even though I think Hanson is closer to being ready to help in the big leagues. Feliz has bigger stuff; I wonder a bit about his fastball command and efficiency, Hanson is ahead of him in both traits, and his secondary stuff is better, particularly his breaking balls. But Feliz’s stuff is more electric. I think Heyward would rank ahead of Andrus, but don’t forget the rest of that haul — Matt Harrison, Beau Jones . . . man, what a brutal, brutal deal that has turned out to be.

  186. John Manuel: (2:49 PM ET ) Jason, I almost cannot imagine that. I ranked Feliz a notch ahead of Hanson in my personal top 50, even though I think Hanson is closer to being ready to help in the big leagues. Feliz has bigger stuff; I wonder a bit about his fastball command and efficiency, Hanson is ahead of him in both traits, and his secondary stuff is better, particularly his breaking balls. But Feliz’s stuff is more electric. I think Heyward would rank ahead of Andrus, but don’t forget the rest of that haul — Matt Harrison, Beau Jones . . . man, what a brutal, brutal deal that has turned out to be.

    It’s hard to imagine they would still have all of these prospects, if only because some of them would have almost certainly have been dealt for another 1B option. Granted, the Teixeira deal drained a lot of talent from Atlanta’s farm, and maybe it would have been smarter not to take a flyer on that 18 month Teix rental. But even if you didn’t, some combination of prospects would almost certainly have been dealt for some 1B option not named Scotty Thorman. Would it have been better to deal a package of those guys to Oakland for Nick Swisher? Maybe. Probably. But I certainly wouldn’t drool over the prospect of having all of them backlogged in the farm if it meant watching Thorman hack away for 18 months.

  187. Dan at 267,

    The perception of what you indicated is why the Braves and everybody else has made it seem like Blanco had no chance. As Sam said, big league pitchers want to knock it out of your hand and make you hit your way on.

    This year will tell a lot on Blanco. Will the league catch up with him and end his usefulness, or will he be able to add a little BA and a little ISO and smarten up his base stealing a hair?

    I think he might be able to sustain the walk rate because of his small strike zone and his willingness to go deep in counts (I think that accounts for a lot of the strikeout problem. If you are getting to 2 stikes and figuring a 50% chance of a walk beats a 30% chance of a single, it is easy to take called strike 3 in the process). He needs to work on a “2 strike swing” (although maybe his regular swing is really a 2 strike swing?)

  188. Spike @ 273,

    Actually, I believe Rickey was better than Joe. Maybe if you extrapolate into the equation 2 to 2 1/2 years from WWII, I could lean to Joe (but if you did that for Ted’s 5 seasons in the Air Corps and Air Force that would really change things. And you have to adjust Warren Sphan and 2/3rds of tht generation and Willie Mays for 1 1/2 years at Korea time., etc.). However, he played 13 seasons. Ricky 22 or so (and most at well above replacement). Rickey is THE all time leader in major categories of RUNS SCORED (isn’t that the object of the offensive side) and WALKS and STOLEN BASES (with a very acceptable near the top percentage of success). Is there ONE category that Di Maggio leads in (oh yeah, the famous streak)? Any other career records? Even Yankee career records?

    Di Maggio either lied about his age and got away with it, or he fell off a cliff at age 33 (sound like Murphy, Rice, hmmh).

    I would say DiMaggio is one of the twenty to twenty five best players. if making out a team, he might make sense as a top 15 draft choice because of positional scarcity. He was not one of the 10 best position players of all time.

    Who is better: Cobb, Speaker, Hornsby, Ruth, Gehrig, Mays, maybe Mantle, Aaron, Williams (as in Ted), Musial, RICKEY BE RICKEY HENDERSON, Schmidt, maybe Matthews, maybe Ripken (adjusted for position). Maybe also Manny and Barry, and probably Bench (again positional adjustment)and maybe Yogi.

    IF DiMaggio had a normal decline phase, then he makes the top 10, maybe. The aggregated value of his career is a slightly better version of Dale Murphy (who I think is good, but isn’t headed to Cooperstown anytime soon).

    10% or so of DiMaggio’s legend is “new York bias.” That is enough to turn a nevertheless great ball player into one of the 10 best of all time.

  189. Oh, I’m persuadable either way – never really thought about it to be honest. The article however, takes Gadfly’s position from the previous thread about why one might have voted for Rickey or not, and his list of greater OF’s than Rockey as well, and the thread critically examines those positions. As the consensus was opposed on both counts, I thought he might want to represent.

  190. The article however, takes Gadfly’s position from the previous thread about why one might have voted for Rickey or not, and his list of greater OF’s than Rockey as well, and the thread critically examines those positions. As the consensus was opposed on both counts, I thought he might want to represent.

    Can we sum up and just say “the fact that other people voted stupidly in the past does not justify voting stupidly in the present.” Is Rickey Henderson a Hall of Famer? Of fucking course he is. He’s one of the ten best players in history. Anyone not voting for him is an idiot.

  191. I’d agree that 10% of DiMaggio’s legend is New York bias. In fairness, a tremendously awesomely phenomenal center fielder is better than a tremendously awesomely phenomenal left fielder, but since I’m not quite sure how relatively tremendously awesomely phenomenal each of them was, let me just analyze them on the basis of BP stats that I have no idea how to derive.

    My takeaway is that, as a hitter alone, Rickey was better both at his peak and over the duration of his career.

    Here are their best ten seasons by WARP3:
    Rickey
    1990 15.3
    1985 13.2
    1981 12.1
    1980 10.7
    1986 10.6
    1983 10
    1991 9.7
    1992 9.6
    1988 9.3
    1984 9

    Joe D
    1941 14.2
    1937 13.5
    1939 11.7
    1948 11.7
    1940 11
    1942 9.4
    1938 8.7
    1946 7.8
    1950 7.6
    1947 7.5

    According to WARP3, Henderson’s best season (1990) was better than DiMaggio’s best season (1941 — yeah, the year he had 56 straight), 15.3 to 14.2. Then they alternate: DiMag’s second-best beats Rickey’s second-best, Rickey’s third-best beats Joe’s, Joe’s fourth- and fifth-best beat Rickey’s, and Rickey’s next five are each better than Joe’s next five, by a lot.

    Expanding the list a bit, Rickey has 15 seasons with a WARP3 of at least 7, while Joe has only 11. Even if Joe had played all 3 years during the war, he would at best be even as a hitter with Rickey, and if any of those years were down years he’d look worse.

    More interesting comp: Joe Morgan.

  192. That is an interesting comparison Alex, do you mean baseball ability or ability to communicate?

    I’d say of the two Rickey Henderson’s method of communication has provided more unintentional comedy than Joe Morgan, despite Morgan possessing a platform from which to reach an audience far more frequently.

    Therefore, Henderson > Morgan

  193. FJM’s comedy was intentional and was derived from Morgan. I’m giving Morgan zero credit for being intentionally hilarious.

  194. To me, Rickey Henderson is the Alan Iverson of baseball. Remarkable, rare talent that somehow takes away rather than adds to your team.

  195. To me, Rickey Henderson is the Alan Iverson of baseball. Remarkable, rare talent that somehow takes away rather than adds to your team.

    What does this mean exactly? He has two WS rings and Murph has 0. Does that mean Murphy took away even more than Rickey? What examples or seasons are you referring to?

  196. According to Carroll Rogers, in addition to a $2.5 million base:

    “The Braves incentives called for Smoltz to get another $2.5 million if he was on the active roster for 60 days.”

    That’s $5 million with no specific innings requirement — just 1/3 of a season of being able to pitch.

  197. Smoltz’s offers

    The Red Sox offered him $5.5 million guaranteed, the Braves $2.5 million. The Red Sox pushed the worth of the contract up to $10 million with incentives based on time spent on the active roster. He’ll make $125,000 his first day and an additional $35,000 a day from June 1-Oct. 3. He’ll receive $500,000 if he’s active on Oct. 4, the last day of the regular season.

    The Braves incentives called for Smoltz to get another $2.5 million if he was on the active roster for 60 days. He could have made a maximum of $10 million but he would have had to total at least 200 innings and pitch at a high level.

    and his interview…

    http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/sports/braves/stories/2009/01/14/smoltz_braves.html

  198. The fact we are even debating Gregor Blanco’s usefulness is sad to me as a Braves fan.

  199. Sadly, Blanco might be one of the better ones on this team’s (current) bad-by-even-deadball-era-standards outfield.

  200. sansho1, if Smoltzie can’t pitch, he will not be on the active roster for 60 days. Some of the terms in the contract (including the 200 innings requirement) just lead me to believe the Braves never wanted Smoltz back unless it’s very cheap. But we know damn well teams like the Red Sox love to gamble on risks like Smoltzie.

    The whole thing was just handled poorly by the Braves. I wish they just told everybody in the beginning that they will not bring Smoltzie back because they can’t afford another season of uncertainty from him. I always like honesty.

  201. sansho1, if Smoltzie can’t pitch, he will not be on the active roster for 60 days.

    That’s right. And in that case, how much money should we have been expected to pay a dugout mascot? Sorry, I mean legend.

    Doubling the guarantee at a one-third threshold basically says, “if you can help us AT ALL, you’re guaranteed $5 million, and it goes up from there.” This strikes me as eminently reasonable.

  202. Everybody has different opinion on what’s reasonable and what’s not. The Red Sox offered Smoltzie a contact and it exceeds Braves offer by $3M. Wren threw $3M to David freaking Ross and $3M is not even enough to bring back freaking Ohman. At the end of the day, if John can’t throw a single pitch in 2009, he will retire as a Brave.

    Everybody values things differently, but I believe it’s worth it to spend that $5M to keep Smoltzie as a career Brave. Anyway, it’s not relevant anymore.

  203. Sam @ 270.

    That’s why I don’t understand those who keep saying we “overvalue” our own prospects. They are all very good and should not be traded away lightly.

  204. I figure it will sort out like this, assuming we don’t make any moves on offense, aside from picking up Andruw.

    LF Gregor Blanco / Matt Diaz
    CF Josh Anderson / Andruw Jones
    RF Jeff Francouer (sigh)
    2B Martin Prado / Kelly Johnson

    Against LHP
    1 Prado
    2 Escobar
    3 C. Jones
    4 Francouer
    5 McCann
    6 A. Jones
    7 Kotchman
    8 Diaz

    Against RHP
    1 Anderson
    2 Escobar
    3 Jones
    4 Francouer
    5 McCann
    6 Johnson
    7 Kotchman
    8 Blanco

    This model has three major problems, the first being that Francouer is an everyday player, the second is that he’s the cleanup hitter. The other thing I don’t like is that the V RHP lineup is all speed guys and little pop. I’m not advocating this lineup, I just think it’s what cox will do with what he’s been given. However, if we do land a righthanded bat, the whole thing is out the window… thankfully.

  205. I have always believed….no matter how much pitching Wren is adding…this season’s key is a turnaround season from Frenchy. There is no way to get around that unless Wren adds two big bats to compensate for “Frenchy risk”, and that’s not going to happen. The guy plays 162 games at a power hitter position. Unless we trade him away, he is the key to the Braves’ lineup no matter where you put him.

  206. It’s inevitable. The Braves will have not one, but two outfielders (Francoeur and Andruw Jones) they can only hope will be halfway decent, as opposed to actually knowing it.

  207. I guess Wren knows from the very beginning that there will be way too many risks in the offense that he can’t afford to have any risk on the pitching side of things.

  208. Ethan, he was actually wearing a Braves hat? Did they talk to him about Mac’s idea of him fighting Frenchy to the death for a roster spot ?

  209. Wren threw $3M to David freaking Ross

    Actually, Wren threw 1.5 mil a David Ross, a decent backup catcher that keeps Clint Sammons’ useless ass off the roster. He did that over two years, which equals 3 mil, but it’s not comparable to paying that money over one year to Smoltz. You can whinge all you want and watch your greatest hits VHS from the 90s with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden playing in the background, maybe back it up with some Seinfeld and Friends re-runs, none of that is going to make Smoltz magically young again. Stop living in the past.

  210. Man, Sam, you sure have lots of fire in yourself. If you think Ross is more useful than Sammons (they are both useless in my opinion), be my guest.

    Anyway, let’s just move on.

  211. Stop living in the past.

    I believe Smoltz said 42 is just a number and ‘old’ just a state of mind.

  212. Dan, I do agree with Smoltzie on that…but for life in general and not from baseball point of view, ha.

  213. RE: AJ

    Looked at a few videos of him from last year to see if there was anything I could notice. Take it with a grain of salt as I only played one year of college ball and there was definitely a reason why. Per that:

    It seems like with him its always the same shit. His front shoulder flies open/lunges out too early. This lengthens his swing because he can’t complete it before he swivels his hips (instead of vice versa) This therefore gives him no shot at any pitch that isn’t directly in his wheelhouse. Best case scenario, he rolls it over and grounds out, or as happened much more regularly, he just K’s. Basically, it’s a swing that only allows him to pull the ball in certain areas of the strike zone.

    Being a strict pull hitter isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A lot of good hitters have made a lot of money doing this. (Bonds, Sheffield, etc) The main difference that I see is that AJ stands a lot further off the plate than most pull hitters. The reason that this is an issue is that by crowding the plate, a lot of these hitters can avoid the issues that AJ has on balls low and away.

    Now, the flip side of this coin is that a hitter is a lot more susceptible to being jammed inside. This is how Sheffield was often pitched to when he was here. The response is being able to keep your hands in so as to still connect the bat barrel to the ball. The issue is having the necessary bat speed to be able to turn on the ball while doing this. It still won’t completely solve the shoulder issue, but forcing him to keep his hands in will also force him to keep his shoulder in as well(to a certain extent)

    Whether AJ has this capability or not, I don’t know. Personally, I think he still has the bat speed, but the eye/pitch recognition, never his strong suit, seems to have worsened. Obviously, this means that he has to commit earlier. He’d probably get jammed…a lot. He’d probably get hit a lot more too. (although this would help the OBP)

    In any case, I think this approach would be worth a shot. Especially since his current methodology hasn’t had the greatest results. Though there is probably something I’m missing as I doubt the Braves have been waiting for a 22 guy a year out of school to fill them in on this.

  214. I do not for the life of me understand the vitriol about a 2 year, $3 million contract for a professional backup catcher. That is not a great deal of money, folks. Here is, more or less, the current list of “professional 2nd string catchers” with their career OPS+. You might quibble here and there, but you didn’t do the work, so the heck with ya:

    David Ross — 90
    Mike Redmond — 90
    Ramon Castro — 89
    Jason LaRue — 85
    Javier Valentin — 82
    Miguel Montero — 81
    Yorvit Torrealba — 79
    Toby Hall — 77
    Matt Treanor — 70
    Henry Blanco — 65
    Paul Bako — 62
    Chad Moeller — 61
    Jose Molina — 61

    Of those in Ross’s neighborhood, Castro will make $2.5 million in 2009, Redmond is 38 years old, and LaRue has fallen off a cliff. We’ve got NO-BODY in the minors ready to catch and hit at the major league level for at least two years, so why not get a known quantity? There is virtually no such thing as a backup catcher who hits as well as an average position player, but Ross is as close as it gets, and as good a bet as any for the next couple of years.

  215. Ethan, I’m actually willing to give Andruw a pass for how horrible he was last year. He showed up out of shape which probably led to him injuring himself.

    What I don’t give him a pass for is his .222/ .311/.413 masterpiece in ’07 with his 88(!) OPS+. If he can revert to even just below his major league average of .259/.339/.489, 111 OPS+ I wouldn’t have a huge problem with him hitting seventh. It’s going to be a huge problem if Bobby falls back in love and decides to hit him fourth or fifth like he did much of ’07.

    At this point, if he signs for the minimum (maybe even with a club option of some sort for ’10) on a minor league deal, what’s the harm ? If he shows up and hits in ST, then would you really rather have Josh Anderson or Gregor Blanco out there instead of ‘Druw ?

  216. jj3bagger…that’s exactly what I don’t want to see…Frenchy and Andruw back-to-back…just two years ago, JS had to bring in Tex because we did not have enough offense…I still remember that lineup very well…

    Harris
    Edgar
    Chipper
    Andruw
    McCann
    Frenchy
    KJ
    Thorman

    It seems like we have returned to ground zero again…

  217. What’s the harm? Well, let’s see…
    ———————–
    July 19th, 2009

    “He’s hitting a damn hard .060 right now. He’ll start finding some holes. He looks great at the plate, but he’s not seeing the results right now.” – Bobby Cox

  218. Hearing Smotlz’s side of the story is truly sad–the Braves took him for granted, tried to low ball him and now he is a Red Sox.

    For those who now think that Wren is a genius for throwing 60 million (4/56 was probably possible) at Lowe, I should point out that had the Braves treated Smoltz with respect they probably could have had both pitchers. However, once Smoltz left, Wren lost his leverage and overpaid for a good/better than average pitcher (whose numbers are helped enormously by Dodger Stadium)who will be 39 at the end of his contract.

    “Living in the Past”–This is just silly: no one knows what Smoltz will do in 2009, but does anybody with a brain seriously think that the Red Sox made their offer with anyting other than the expectation that it will improve their team? Did the Red Sox make the offer to piss off Braves’ fans? Was it done out of malice?

    It seems likely that the Bosox thought–as many on this site think–that Smoltz would be an asset to their team in 2009. To pretend otherwise, borders on being insulting….

  219. Stephen, seems like us two are the minority on the Smoltz issue. I am totally with you on this. Some people chooses to look at the half empty side, and we see the half-full side. Anyway, can’t change a thing on it now.

  220. JJ,

    Not at all. In spite of his hitting deficiencies over the last few years, he still has played an above average CF. The loss of weight can do nothing but help that.

    If he could put up a .250/.330/.450 line, combined with the D, he’d be the most valuable OF that we had. Not that that is saying much and it’s a big if, but I’d definitely try to pick him up if feasible.

  221. I think the question about Ross is partly related to money. If we could not afford to make Smoltz a decent offer, then why should we a backup catcher.

    Having a backup catcher is necessary, but Sammons might have been given the role and developed into a solid #2. And, yes, we would have some money left over….

  222. @319 – It seems likely that the Bosox thought–as many on this site think–that Smoltz would be an asset to their team in 2009. To pretend otherwise, borders on being insulting

    I don’t think the BoSox are expecting anything. I do however believe that they figure if he is able to pitch anywhere close to the level he was in the past, that he could be a tremendous asset. The key word there would be COULD. If the BoSox were that sure of Smoltz (or several others in their rotation for that matter) they would have already dumped some of their excess pitching. The fact of the matter is they were able to take a risk and threw alot of money at him. It’s the same concept of the extras they got for their outfield (i.e. Kotsay). They took alot of flyers and they are going to wait to see if they work out before the make a move.

    Not saying the Braves handled the situation correctly though. I think their offer was more than adequate (at a possible 7 mil). Where they screwed up was putting in a clause that he would never come close to reaching (200 IP). They would have been better off just saying you can earn up to 7 mil this year with the other options. Also, Wren shouldn’t have made it seem like he wanted to fill out the rest of his roster before getting to Smoltz if he was going to make him an offer anyways (just clouds perception from Smoltz’ end).

    The only thing I don’t like about the whole ordeal from Smoltz’ end is that he is acting like the Braves could afford to do the same thing that the Red Sox could (which is nowhere near correct).

  223. kc, I know that’s what sucks, is that I like most others am resigned to the fact that Frenchy will be patrolling RF yet again. I’m hoping Bobby would have enough sense to put Kotchman inbetween Andruw & Frenchy or yes, my blood pressure will reach levels of the second half of ’07.

  224. Since when did 1.4 mil become alot of money in MLB. Too much is being made of this Ross signing – it was a good deal. It is about 1/80 of our proposed payroll.

  225. jj, and we don’t know what to expect from Kotchman either…so we potentially have three “dead meat”s (four including the pitcher) at the bottom of the lineup.

    That’s why everytime I hear Wren saying he doesn’t want to take “risk” on John, I get very mad because I see the word “risk” flying all around in the offense…and don’t tell me there is no risk on Lowe and Kawakami.

  226. Joshua, I don’t think 1.4M is a lot of money either in terms of our payroll, which is why I think the $3M difference between the Braves and Red Sox offer is so insignificant. Wren throws $60M at Lowe, $80M at Burnett, $30M to Furcal, and $24M to Kawakami. $5M/one year commitment is really not that signficant.

  227. kc, I agree 100%, that’s why I don’t think it would be the worst idea in the world to think about hitting Kotchmania in the 2 hole, sliding KJ/Yesco down to the six or seven hole to make sure that the pitcher doesn’t get to take an inning off everytime the bottom of the order comes up.

  228. @329

    Well put. I agree. That doesn’t even factor in that he’s John Smoltz and means a lot to a lot of people who support the team.

  229. jj, you know what, I also think batting Kotchman second is a good idea, and I have been thinking about that all along. Since making contact has never been a problem of Kotchman, putting him at second spot of the batting order (with Yunel in the 1 hole) makes a lot of sense.

    We will see what Bobby will do.

  230. Ultimately, it is about the front of the uni.

    Sure, Wren should have made a better initial offer, but Smoltzie could have waited a bit longer before making his decision, if he really wanted to stay.

    I just have a feeling there is some ugly underbelly to this story that won’t come out for a long time, if ever.

    Exhibit A: The “Homeboy upstairs” kerfluffle.

    Love this time of year. Pitchers and catchers report soon. Yes, I am excited to see the 2009 team. Go Braves!!

  231. KC–You are right that it doesn’t matter now–but a bit of postmortem analysis won’ hurt either: what I find most troubling is that lack of communication between Smoltz and the front office–which reminds me a bit of the Furcal fiasco.

    Now, I am looking forward to watching Wren rebuild the team–but I loved watching Smoltz as a Brave for 20 years and, yes, the way his tenure in Atlanta ended will continue to piss me off. Mainly, I think, because it was unnecessary….

  232. Stephen, I just think the Braves never treated Smoltzie as a true “free agent”. Wren offered above market value for other free agents but expected John to accept a “reasonable” contract. It’s the double-standard that really pisses me off.

  233. Thats a good way to look at it–because Wren and the rest of the front office could not believe that Smoltz would ever leave…

  234. Greetings from The OC…

    OK, so I’m at JFK Airport today looking for a bite before my flight. All the quickie restaurants are full, so I see this pseudo-upscale place cordoned off a little bit, but there are only a few folks in there. A beer & a burger in peace—cool.

    I enter the place, spy a table, walk toward it, look up—and right in front of me is Rickey Henderson.

    He’s wearing a very fancy sweater & he’s with a woman. Still built like a tank. Looks like he can still play.

    So, I just stuck my hand out, looked him in the eye and said, “Congratulations.”

    He shook it & his reply was Elvis-like, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

    And that was that. Kinda perfect.

  235. I am glad he didn’t say “don’t disturb me” and start running after you like he tries to steal a base!

  236. I am 100% with Stephen on Smoltz.
    There should not be any doubt that once Smoltz starts pitching again he will be dominant and will help the team tremendously. Sure, it’s an “if”. But at that cost, well worth the risk. It’s John Smoltz were talking about here!

  237. ububba–What a great and timely encounter! And, what great luck for someone who must spend time at JFK….

  238. One guy that has dropped completely off the face of the earth is Brandon Jones. He’s not in the mix anymore? Does anybody have any updates on him at all? I’d think he’d be another alternative to Anderson and Blanco?

  239. Timo–I could not agree more: a year ago Brandon Jones was mooted as a possible LF. Now, the Braves have given him less attention that Langerhans because they evidently have decided that he will never be more than a 4th outfielder.

    Possibly a harsh (especially if accurate) for a player that some in the organization thought would be a ‘Garret Anderson type of player’.

    It would be nice to see Jones restore his reputation and trajectory….

  240. Stephen –

    Regrettably, Smoltz’ utility to the Red Sox is a bit different than ours. Boston is taking a 5M gamble, which they can easily afford, that he will be able to pitch for them down the stretch and in the playoffs and potentially be a difference maker. It’s a good bet for them. I really don’t see the Braves in the same situation financially or competitively. The need for roster assets that can perform all year, ESPECIALLY starting pitching, is just too great. Now, I totally believe this was mishandled (in fairness on both parts), and I am shocked neither side could be bothered to take the high road, but as a baseball decision, this is a pretty easy one.

  241. spike, I do partially agree with what you say. I believe the Braves view their offer to be very generous already, but that’s still short of the market rate.

    This is possibly Smoltzie’s last contract. I don’t blame him for getting as much money as he can possibly make in his last chance…maybe he has invested in Lehman, ha.

  242. Stephen, if the team has the old Andruw and a league average rightfielder, I am sure the Braves will give Brandon Jones a chance. But it’s a bit too much to have three unknowns in the outfield when there are only…three outfielder spots in one lineup!

  243. ububba-You showed class. Wish I’d seen that!

    Half of the Hot Stove show on MLB last night was about Andruw Jones. It showed pictures of him working out and hitting with Chipper. It showed his stance in 2005 and 2008. It had Barry Larkin explaining that Andrew put too much pressure on himself in LA–there in the Big Time–and Barry assured us that now that Andruw can bend his knees a little, he’ll get back to awesome. Totally ignored 2007, both Larkin and their graphics.

    Al Leiter was there, too. They’re trying to build up a little back-and-forth between him and Larkin. Leiter showed how he killed Andruw (lifetime .180 vs Leiter). And how he could continue doing it, because Andruw hasn’t learned a damn thing in three years, Leiter said.

    Oh boy. Not looking forward to Andruw’s return.

  244. Spike–The Braves are not in the same situation as the Bosox–but for that very reason the treatment of Smoltz is actually worse. If the Braves had been willing to communicate with Smoltz and provide a bit better contract, they might not have been compelled to go and overpay Lowe. We will never know–but I am guessing that they might have had Lowe for 4/56–since the fourth year and not the money was apparently what sealed the deal. The 4 million difference is greater than the difference between what the Red Sox offered and what the Braves offered. In other words, with better communication and some patience the Braves might have been able to hold on to Smoltz and acquired Lowe. Obviously, this is easier to see in retrospect.

    Instead, they lost Smoltz and paid more for Lowe than they should have.

    Two other issues: the Braves apparently included a provision for 200 innings as one of their incentives: given the fact that Smoltz might not be ready until May this was probably unecessary and possibly insulting.

    Again, the Red Sox were not in the postion of needing to keep Smoltz to please their fan base–but the Braves were. Yet, the Braves believed that it was probably not worth their time and money and so Smoltz is no a Red Sox. The Braves, in turn, got desperate and threw lots of money at Lowe.

    Time will tell: I was not crazy about having Smoltz as a starter, but I do (as apparently do the Red Sox) like him coming out of the pen. He should be able to be as productive as Jim Kaat at a similar age.

    All said, I like KC’s observation–the Braves never regarded Smoltz as a “free agent”.

    Lets hope that Lowe really gets the job done….

  245. I’m in basic agreement with Spike on Smoltz. I think that the BoSox have already penciled in getting to the playoffs and they felt Smoltz could be a great asset when they got there. IMO it is a good gamble. In terms of their offer, the Braves were saying that we need you to be a major component for us getting to the playoffs – if you don’t think you can do it, we’re not overly interested.

    Given Smoltz’s injury situation, a bonus incentive to pitch 200 innings was ridiculous. This is the equivalent of giving McCann a bonus if he steals 30 bases.

    I still think Wren did the wrong thing. If we get to the playoffs this year (many think it’s ridiculous, but Wren needs to plan for it), an extra investment of 2.5 mil to have Smoltz available is a bargain. A playoff rotation of Lowe, Smoltz and two of whoever is hottest and available of Jurrjens, Vazquez, Kawakami and Glavine would be hard to beat.

  246. If Wren manages to spend the rest of our budget wisely and improve the outlook for the team I won’t give him such a hard time about Smoltz. I’ll still be disappointed about it all going down the way it did and about not having Smoltz anymore, but I won’t consider it a complete farce.

    My biggest criticism was that as I calculated our remaining budget, I didn’t believe Wren could reasonably spend it all. I felt we’d have at least as much money left under our cap as what the Sox offered Smoltz and that is why I couldn’t understand our being stingy with him. If we max out our payroll by adding some outfield power then I’ll at least be able to accept that Smoltz, while a personal sports hero of mine, may not have been in the best interests of the club. I still need to see that payroll within $5-10 million of our cap before Wren I can make that leap.

  247. Given Smoltz’s injury situation, a bonus incentive to pitch 200 innings was ridiculous. This is the equivalent of giving McCann a bonus if he steals 30 bases

    Awesome. Or like giving Francoeur a bonus if he walks 100 times…

    In his career

  248. Ethan:

    Don’t sell yourself short; you played ball. Good analysis.

    Re: Smoltz–it seems to me we need to take both versions with a grain of salt. People tend to see things from their own point of view. There is probably truth in both versions but also probably some self-serving elements. My feeling is the Braves made an offer, the Red Sox made a better one and Smoltz took it. More power to him. If he expected the Braves to sort of kiss his ass to keep him here, he was either naive or self-absorbed. I think the Braves could have handled it better–they clearly didn’t think he would leave–but so be it. I’m not convinced that at 42 and with a history of arm trouble, John Smoltz can still dominate over a season. But, if you are just looking for help down the stretch, he may well be able to. That’s all the Red Sox are looking for.

    As for DiMaggio, I tend to agree that he was a bit overrated, especially after the War when, as I read somewhere, he had trouble with sliders that became more prevalent. I think Mantle was much better. Joe’s legend was built up by the NY media (the press in those days) who were impressed by his supposed gracefulness in the outfield and by the fact the Yankees won all the time. It’s interesting though, that people talk about Rice having problems with the Boston media and that being a reason he wasn’t voted in. But from all acounts, Joe D. was a first class asshole who treated everyone around him as his valet. Yet he was treated as a deity by the NY press, whereas Ted Williams was ravaged by the Boston press. But both guys got into the Hall.

  249. About Andruw …
    Under normal circumstances and with a normal manager, giving AJ a spring training invite and minor league deal would be great. However, I’m very concerned about this with Cox being the manager.

    I think his loss of weight and resulting improved speed will wow everyone in spring training. I don’t believe the pitchers will challenge him much and he’ll hit around .250 with several HRs and many will say that the “old Andruw” is back. Unfortunately I think he’ll digress quickly when the season begins and slowly thereafter, but we’ll keep trotting him out there until he hits the way he did in LA for a month or two. Not a good scenario in my opinion.

  250. I do not for the life of me understand the vitriol about a 2 year, $3 million contract for a professional backup catcher.

    Well the combined 2009 salaries of Dave Ross and the recently-extended Omar Infante is the difference in guaranteed money between the Red Sox and Braves’ offers to John Smoltz.

    I’d trade Ross and Infante for Smoltz.

  251. ububba,
    That’s awesome. And, as stated, classy of you just to walk up and congratulate him.

    If you could do it again would you slip in a little “congratulations Rickey, today you are the greatest of all time!” ?

  252. @347 & 351 – completely agree that the Braves botched the whole Smoltz situation. However, saying that we wouldn’t have overpayed for Lowe is incorrect in my mind. The Braves said from the beginning they were going after these pitchers – with or without
    Smoltz. And they needed him either way. Now to the point on whether we overpaid Lowe and didn’t offer Smoltz fair market value, I’d have to say it the exact opposite way yall did. I won’t say we couldn’t have gotten Lowe for less, but we did get him at market value if you look at what the other pitchers got this winter. His track record is better than that of Burnetts so you could easily argue that he deserved a better contract. Were yall complaining about the offer made to Burnett? And as for Smoltz – there are no comparables for his situation what so ever. What is fair market value for a pitcher that piched less than 10 games last year and just had one of the worst surgeries a pitcher can have? I think a possible 7 mil is more than fair. Yes, the Braves botched the whole situation, but Smoltz is not free of the blame. He has overvalued himself in this scenario b/c someone was willing to OVERPAY for him. But the Sox had to overpay and they realized it.

  253. did anyone else hear Andrew’s interview on 790 a few minutes ago..all I can is wow..just wow, dude is not exactly a rocket scientist.

  254. I’m scared to go back and see what I wrote right after the Smoltz thing came out (largely because I know I was pissed), but NOW…

    1) I think the offer (minus the insulting non-incentive) was a reasonable starting point for the Braves. BUT we should’ve been in near-constant communication with John about progress and where he thought things were. It seems the front office didn’t even come out for his bullpen sessions which may or may not have made a difference in what we offered, but would certainly have made a difference in how John viewed what the front office was thinking. (The BoSox people who saw a bullpen session said they thought it would’ve been a good one for April let alone January/December… and Bobby sounded impressed as well).

    2) I DO think McGuirk’s comments were that of an asshat.

    3) I DO think the FO should’ve talked to Smoltz more and shown him more respect by keeping communication open and not ASSUMED he’d be back no matter what.

    4) I think the BoSox made a brilliant move for their team by signing a guy who KILLS in the big game AND should be ready for the stretch and post season.

    5) I think it would’ve been a good move for us to spend some of our money on him, OR at least have given him more feel for what moves we were trying to make. If you were John Smoltz working to get back to play, and you’ve seen nothing but the FO screw up a Peavy trade, make a Vasquez trade, screw up a Burnett deal, and screw up a Furcal deal (assigning blame where you will)… one could see how this might be problematic for you to feel like you’re going to be on a competitive team, AND that they might not get around to signing you at ALL.

    6) I think somebody’s point about making the better offer to Smoltz having possibly saved us some money on Lowe was a good one as well. If we’d handled Smoltz better we’d have been less apparently desperate to make a big deal for Lowe and could’ve likely saved ourselves the difference in cost and had both.

    7) In the end, the results of John being in Boston are annoying, but the baseball decision isn’t an unreasonable one (signing him at that price was a good gamble for the BoSox, questionable gamble for us).

    And I’m sort of envious of ububba (why do I never run into ballplayers at the airport? my parents have even run into Chipper at Hartsfield before… all I ever run into at the airport is long friggin lines and delayed flights).

  255. did anyone else hear Andrew’s interview on 790 a few minutes ago..all I can is wow..just wow, dude is not exactly a rocket scientist.

    I didn’t hear the interview. But based on this comment and the ones on DOB’s blog, I wish I had.

    Some samplings from DOB’s blog:

    1. “Andruw’s interview this morning was AWEFUL! If I was Frank Wren and heard that I would want to touch Andruw with a 10 foot pole. He sounded like he had been smoking and drinking all night now. His excuse for showing up to camp fat last year was because he lost some power in his swing. GIVE ME A BREAK!!

    2. “Andruw was just on 790 The Zone….what a damn horrible interview.

    3. “Did anyone hear the interview with A. Jones on 790 The Zone? It was a terrible interview. Don’t know whats’s up with him. He sounded like he was stoned.He could have been sick, just don’t know. I think the Braves should pass on him even if it doesn’t cost them alot. He just doesn’t get it.

  256. Well the combined 2009 salaries of Dave Ross and the recently-extended Omar Infante is the difference in guaranteed money between the Red Sox and Braves’ offers to John Smoltz.

    I’d trade Ross and Infante for Smoltz.

    And then you’d have to pay two other players to fill those positions. Would you settle for two scrap-heap minimum salaries? How many positions should we have consciously downgraded at in order to accomodate an injured 42-year-old Smoltz? That is anti-competitive thinking.

    FYI, same group of backup catchers, career CS%:

    Blanco – 42.9
    Molina – 41.4
    LaRue – 38.5
    Ross – 38.2
    Redmond – 34.6
    Hall – 33.2
    Bako – 31.4
    Torrealba – 31.3
    Castro – 29.8
    Valentin – 29.5
    Treanor – 26.5
    Moeller – 25.8
    Montero – 21.7

  257. I wish I had heard the interview–but it doesn’t matter: the offer should still be the one made to Javy Lopez….

  258. Joshua, I think the reason we can reasonably speculate that we may have overpaid for Lowe is because
    1) we were the only team out there offering 4 years
    2) The next best offer was from the Mets at less per year, and fewer years (and they were the only team with money and desire to snag Lowe that was in the hunt against us)
    3) The money paid to a player going to the yankees (Burnett) isn’t exactly a good yardstick to measure “the market.”

    I think the Mets offer was supposed to be 3/36? I think it’s reasonable to say that we could probably have gotten Lowe for 4/56 IF we weren’t in “save face” mode from the Smoltz debacle and could’ve waited Boras out a little.

  259. There’s no way the Braves offer Jones anything more than the minimum. Heck, anything that puts him on the 40-man would be too much, IMO. A minor league deal and a ST invite is plenty. The Dodgers are already paying him a ton.

  260. I love that Ricky has said he’ll still play and that if somebody gave him the at bats he’d lead the league in steals. I wish somebody (not us) would give him a shot just to see what he does.

  261. “I don’t think the BoSox are expecting anything.”

    And I think you’re wrong. They, too, like to win, and they, too, expect returns on millions of dollars. Plus, to be fair, they’ve been a helluva lot better at winning lately than have the Braves. Smoltz will probably give them 120 solid innings, and that’s a good return on the money in this market.

    I’m happy with our two most recent signings, but I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone here thinks Wren deserves anything better than a C for the offseason. Perhaps next year, when the Braves have the 7th-best pitching stats in the NL and 10th-best hitting, you’ll realize just how mediocre a job he has done. Alienating your best players, refusing to get in on free agent outfielders who are, like it or not, the affordable commodity this offseason, and complaining repeatedly to the media about dishonest agents and un-sympathetic players is not a recipe for success in the NL East.

  262. All said, I like KC’s observation–the Braves never regarded Smoltz as a “free agent”.

    Look people, you can either have your cake or you can eat it. You can’t have both. If the Braves should have treated Smoltz like a free agent, why exactly should they give him a discount for innings pitched incentives? If the Braves were offering 5.5 mil guaranteed with riders that take it into double digits for Ben Sheets, you know, another “free agent”, should they have required Sheets to perform like an actual starting pitcher all year – log 200 innings for example? Or should they have said “Ben, you’re such a good guy, by golly we’re gonna give you the money and if you show up in June, well that’s good with us.”

    If the Braves should not have treated Ben Sheets in that way, yet you continue to assert that they should have treated John Smoltz in that way, why? Because Smoltz is a “legend?” Because he’s the last tie to the ’91 miracle? Because he built a church school in Alpharetta? Okay…

    If you’re going to give Smoltz special “legend” treatment and guarantee him more than you would any old “free agent”, why does he owe in return? Should he behave differently than random free agent Sheets? Or should he behave exactly like Sheets, demanding to be treated “like a free agent”, wined and dined and all that jazz, except when it comes to the part of being “treated like a free agent” he doesn’t like (being offered a contract in line with what he’s likely to contribute in 2009 rather than a contract based on what he contributed in 1999?)

    In short, which way are you going to play this? Because you have to choose. You can whinge about Smoltz being treated like something other than the Grand Old Man of the organization, like he was just some worn down once-great trying to work his way back from a career-threatening shoulder surgery at the age of 42, or you can whing about Smoltz NOT being treated “like a free agent”, as if the team did something wrong by thinking the he might behave like the Grand Old Man of the organization instead of a fungible commodity on the market for the highest bidder, no discount or negotiation leeway given for 21 years of nostalgia. But you cant whinge about BOTH.

    Either or kids. Make a decision. I suggest you stop living in the past.

  263. And I think you’re wrong. They, too, like to win, and they, too, expect returns on millions of dollars.

    “I see him starting important games for us late in the season and,
    hopefully, into October,” Epstein said. “We’re going to slow him down
    with the big picture in mind.”

    The Red Sox expect Smoltz to pitch in June. They are willing to pay him $5.5 million to NOT PITCH until June, and then another $5 mil if he pitches well after June. $10 million is too much money to pay for half a season and the playoffs – the Braves wouldn’t likely need the playoff starts – especially when you’re payroll is $92 mil rather than $130 mil.

  264. @368 – I do believe we could have gotten Lowe for less money, but that does not mean that we overpaid. Considering what pitchers of his stature were making this offseason, we were right in line with those other offers. But again, I agree we could have gotten him for less.

    @371 – I don’t think there is any way that we are as far down as #7 with team pitching next year. However, I can’t argue with the hitting placement.

  265. @368- I think all your points are correct but it makes more sense when viewed as a one-time offer that he wasn’t going to be able to shop around with other clubs, just to have us lose out by a few million on the last good FA pitcher on the market.

    Also, I think 4/60 is more in line with his actual value, whereas the depressed market had him down to 3/36. So for us to put an ultimatum on him like that without having to overpay based on his actual value is not too bad, imo.

  266. The Red Sox don’t “expect” John to pitch any more than they “expect” him not to pitch. They probably estimate that they’ve got a 50/50 shot (perhaps a little worse, perhaps a bit better) that he’s able to pitch 100 innings this year. They figure that if he’s able to pitch, there’s some likelihood that he’ll be able to pitch effectively and maybe even like he was last year. At the same time, they’re acknowledging a real possibility that he won’t give them crap next year.

    For the Sox, it’s simply less of a risk to give Smoltz this contract. Worst case, they have to rely on their starting 5 or on Bucholtz or on someone else to give them those innings. But they have no need to spend that money elsewhere. The Braves clearly do and did. I’m not saying I agree with not signing him (I think it’s worth more to the Braves in the long-run to have kept him if for no other reason than happy franchise icons are very nice things to have around, and it shows other players that they’ll be treated with “respect”, meaning they’ll hopefully be more willing to play for the organization). But with all that said, it’s important to realize that the cost/benefit analysis is very different if you’re the Braves vs. if you’re the Red Sox, and I think not guaranteeing Smoltz a lot of money is perfectly defensible from a pure value-added and risk-averse scenario.

    Also, I feel that it’s important to note that the difference in risk between Smoltz and a Lowe or a Kawakami are vastly different in both type and magnitude, and that it insults my intelligence to see people (particularly columnists for the AJC and elsewhere) conflate the two.

  267. Here’s the thing about using Smoltz to get a better deal on Lowe. That assumes that the Braves would have been comfortable that Smoltz would be in the rotation if they didn’t get Lowe; ie, that they could have gotten along without Lowe because they had Smoltz. I don’t think the Braves were comfortable with that. It’s fine to say he looked great in workouts in January, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have problems during the season; in fact, he has missed portions of the last several seasons. Unlike the Red Sox, the Braves needed someone that could give them 200 innings; Smoltz obviously isn’t going to do that this year, even if he is able to give quality innings. I just think the Braves weren’t in position to gamble on Smoltz’s “warrior” qualities because, at some point, no matter how much of a warrior he is, age is going to catch up with him as it did with, for example, Steve Carlton. I don’t think it was a matter of the Braves taking John for granted or not wanting him; it was how much are you willing to gamble on a 42 year old coming off arm surgery? I don’t think it was unreasonable for a team coming off a 90 loss season with many holes to be concerned about investing much in Smoltz. The Red Sox are obviously in a different position.

  268. Zach & Joshua, I think it’s tough to judge what the actual value on him was because the market is so screwy, and the Yanks and BoSox have spent most of their money already. The fact he’s going to be 40 when the contract ends should also play into that last year’s price range too.

    I don’t hate the Lowe signing (hell I actually like it), but I think we could’ve been in a better position there had we not had so much egg on our face already. We were the only guys offering 4 years, and the only ones offering more than 12M a year… so I think we could’ve probably had the same no-shop contingency and gone 4/56 or so, but I understand that we paid a little more because we got what we wanted (the last healthy “ace” on the market), and offering the extra probably made it easier for Boras to say “take it now!”.

    The thing the sign-Smoltz detractors have said is that he’s not going to be ready until June. The way I’ve heard it from most places is that the Sox are going to ease him along and not expect him until June, but that he was planning on May on his own timeline. Both scenarios make sense. If he’s playing on a team that needs him to MAKE the playoffs (the Braves would certainly fall in that category) he’d rush back and struggle through a month at 80% (and 80% of Smoltz is still going to be better than what our options looked like a week ago). BUT if he’s going to be on a team that’s almost certain to be in the hunt for the playoffs come September it makes more sense to rehab longer and build that extra strength up to play a month later. Either way he’s playing for a 5 month season.. if he’s with the Braves he hopes that becomes a 6 month season if we make the playoffs, but either plan works depending on the scenario.

    csg, I think we avoided arb with a bunch of guys right out of the gate… but I can’t recall who (looking for it now).

  269. Marc,

    I don’t think the using Smoltz to get a better deal from Lowe hinged on an expectation that he could pitch all year as much as it was rather obvious that the Braves front office A) had egg on its face because of the way the Smoltz thing went down and B)was having trouble getting people to come play here (people being Burnett, Furcal, and Peavy) and because of those two factors they were more desperate to save face than they otherwise would’ve been and hence they offered Lowe both a good clip more money and an extra year than other teams were… instead of just upping the years and going up a little more per year on the money.

  270. Dan, Dayn is a jackass and here’s proof

    “The bullpen, though, figures to be a mess. Mike Gonzalez and Buddy Carlyle should be reasonably effective, but the statuses of Rafael Soriano and Peter Moylan, arguably the two best arms in the pen, are uncertain. The remaining Atlanta relievers are roundly uninspiring. Unless Soriano and Moylan come back from injury effectively and soon, the Atlanta pen will likely be even worse than last year. Bettering that relief corps might require some creativity, such as using Charlie Morton, James Parr, or even top pitching prospect Tommy Hanson out of the bullpen.”

    Hanson out of the pen? I guess Gonzo’s arm is terrible, what if Ohman returns? I think our bullpen will be a strength

  271. The thing the sign-Smoltz detractors have said is that he’s not going to be ready until June. The way I’ve heard it from most places is that the Sox are going to ease him along and not expect him until June, but that he was planning on May on his own timeline. Both scenarios make sense. If he’s playing on a team that needs him to MAKE the playoffs (the Braves would certainly fall in that category) he’d rush back and struggle through a month at 80% (and 80% of Smoltz is still going to be better than what our options looked like a week ago).

    Smoltz has a long history of attempting to come back before he was ready, and re-injuring himself as a result. According to public sources, the Braves believed Smoltz wouldn’t be ready until June. According to public sources the Red Sox believed Smoltz wouldn’t be ready until June. Smoltz is the only person pushing the “could be ready earlier” timeline, and when push came to shove, Smoltz didn’t trust himself enough to be back early to hang his wallet on it. When push came to shove Smoltz trusted the guaranteed money a lot more.

  272. Either I’m way off, or just unable to find it… I thought we had avoided arbitration with Diaz and KJ and such somewhere around the deadline of the time to offer arbitration.

  273. We need to sign KJ to a long term deal and fast…

    Naw. The Braves would still prefer to sign Francoeur long-term than Kelly Johnson.

    Come on out to the ballpark and see the Atlanta Braves take the field for their 12th season of Spring Training at Champion Stadium. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see returning Braves stars like Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Jeff Francouer as they play alongside the stars of tomorrow.

    http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/spring_training/tickets.jsp?c_id=atl

  274. “a long history of attempting to come back before he was ready, and re-injuring himself as a result”

    Really? When? (I’m not being antagonistic, I just don’t see/remember anytime he rushed back and got re-injured… I see quite a few times he was HURT mind you) aside from last year trying to avoid surgery and trying to come back in the pen (and that wasn’t really re-injuring himself as much as not acknowledging how bad the injury really was) I’m not remembering much in the re-injury dept (I do recall some time hurt in 07, but not a rushed return and injury). Was there something in 98 or 99 I’m forgetting? (I know he was down hurt a couple times in that era, but don’t recall him coming back and getting re-hurt.)

  275. The Perry column sucks, but this team would probably have trouble winning more than 85 games.

    Smoltz: underestimating ‘free agency’ meant that the Braves did not believe that he could leave. More important, with his 20 years of service, HOF credentials, popularity in Atlanta, recent injuries (and success in recovering from injuries) and age Smoltz was always going to be a special case. Therefore, the issue involving ‘agency’ meant that the front office appears to have not fully appreciated the complexity (and value) of the player–this is actually understandable. The inability to communicate with him, on the other hand, is not…..

    I think that the Braves could have gotten Lowe for 4/56 or less, but I am really happy that he will be in an Atlanta uniform in 2009….

  276. @383,

    Charles,

    I thought the idea was that if they signed Smoltz, they would not have been (or at least seemed) so desperate to sign Lowe. That assumes that Boras would have perceived the Braves as not needing (as much) another starter. The problem with that, from the Braves standpoint, is that they clearly felt they could not rely on Smoltz for a full season and did need another starter; they would have had to be willing to bluff Boras and hope that he blinked. Obviously, if they actually were comfortable with Smoltz, they might have been able to dispense with another starter entirely after they got Vazquez.

  277. Oh, and

    Both expressed optimism about his shoulder after he was examined by assistant trainer Mike Reinold in December and team physician Dr. Thomas Gill on Monday when Smoltz passed his physical “with flying colors,”
    Epstein said. “Both said this is the best-case scenario for how strong he is right now,” Epstein said. “I don’t know if John would say this, but we feel if we absolutely had to have him in for April, physically he’d be capable to do that but we’re looking at the big picture here. I see him starting important games for us late in the season and, hopefully, into October.”
    (Updated 01/13/2009).
    Injury Report
    Shoulder – Out until at least mid-April
    (Updated – 1/8/09)

    Sounds like it’s not just Smoltz who says he could be ready before June.

  278. Marc;

    I think we would certainly have needed another pitcher still to have any real depth, but without the Smoltz thing, AND with Kawakami the Braves wouldn’t have looked as desperate and with no other serious offers over 3/36 it would’ve been reasonable to be able to hold out a few more bucks.

    Again, I’m glad we got Lowe, and don’t think the price was obscenely high, just that if the front office had been better with understanding the PR nightmare they were setting up with their handling of Smoltz we’d be looking at not just a solid rotation, but one with Smoltz as a possible fill-in if JJ gets tired, Kawakami gets hurt, or anything else happens to our #5 spot (not to mention the possibility of a Smoltz closer if all the rest of the starters were having cy young seasons when he was ready to come back or if the bullpen had imploded by then).

  279. Should also point that I think I did say up there somewhere that I’m not saying we should’ve had a “go get Smoltz at any cost” mentality, just that we should’ve not screwed the pooch in handling it as much. Even if he went to Boston and we just signed Kawakami without all the tempest over Smoltz leaving we’d have been in a better position to negotiate with Lowe. I’m not going to imagine that letting Smoltz go would’ve ever been an EASY PR move, just that it didn’t have to be the fiasco move it was. (Yes I can also see the POV that says “have the fiasco right now as soon as possible because we’re about to negate a lot of it with some good news by getting in two good pitchers”… I just don’t think it happened smoothly enough to think they planned it that way).

  280. Sam did John Smoltz run over your dog when you were a kid or something?

    I have considered Smoltz a sanctimonious prick for years. I have never tried to hide that. I recognize his value as a player and the awesome nature of his career longevity, and I recognize that he’s an emotional tie to the Braves of the 90’s in a way that no one else is. But he’s a sanctimonious prick regardless. I think recent events have proven me correct in my judgment. Smoltz wants to be revered as a special man, the kind of man that wouldn’t let mere money get in the way of his sense of duty, honor and commitment. So when money gets in the way he makes a point to take the money while throwing up a wall of sanctimonious bullshit large enough to repel Mongol hordes. I mean, seriously. Why would you feel the need to call a press conference in the city you left? Smoltz wanted the money, because John Smoltz is just like every other player in the game (and virtually all of us too – I’d have certainly taken the guaranteed money.) But he can’t just accept that, much less say it, because it would crash up against John Smoltz, Living Legend and his social coterie up in the northern arc. It grates at the most annoying of levels for me.

  281. I second Sam here. The Braves could have handled the Smoltz thing better, and its probably right that they didn’t want him back, but the reality is that Smoltz leaving was going to be a bad PR move no matter how they handled it.

    And Smoltz’s comments about his negotiations with the Braves stink of cover-your-a$$. He has tried to build a reputation of goodwill for all these years, and rightfully so, but then when someone else offers you more money and you take it, don’t whine about how badly your old team treated you. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Just leave already…..

  282. I have not chased the money. I am unique. Now I have to find a way to capitalize on my uniqueness. I’ll go wherever they value loyalty the most.

  283. I havent heard Smoltz whine about it. He did say the offers were far apart and he wants to win. Its really that easy. He left, lets move on

  284. If we can add Swisher for mostly chump change, I think it’s worth doing. That said, I’d be surprised if the Yankees move him considering the flexibility he gives them in the OF. While the Yankees didn’t have to give up a whole lot, I’m not sure they’d be very willing to move him. Frankly, a guy who can play CF in a pinch but hits well enough to stick at a corner is extremely useful, not to mention the whole switch hitting thing. If the Yanks just want some prospects, a deal could probably be worked out, but I’m guessing they want Swisher to play a near-everyday role on their team next year, and you don’t generally trade one of those guys for middling prospects.

    I think we’ll have better luck on the FA market.

  285. 403 — And I’m upset because my wife and son missed a connection (airline’s fault, of course) and have to reroute a couple of times. Perspective.

  286. Andruw Jones’ 2009 salary is set in stone I believe, so the only haggling Scott Boras can really do is over if he gets a minor or major league contract. I believe whatever Andruw signs for is subtracted from what the Dodgers have to pay, so he’ll end up with the same amount of money regardless.

    So I think the insufferable smirk will be back with the Braves rather quickly. By Monday. I hope he does well. Maybe 2009 NL Comeback Player of the Year?

  287. The Dodgers’ contribution to Andruw Jones’s 2009 salary is set in stone. I think once he’s released, teams can offer to pay him whatever they want to.

    Am I wrong?

  288. It’s absolutely meaningless what teams offer Andruw unless they offer him a contract for 2010. It’s just taken out of what the Dodgers would pay him. He’ll sign for the minimum.

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