Taking a year off

Normally I would do an April Fool’s post, but I didn’t do one this year. Anyway, I open the floor. Fool Away.

132 thoughts on “Taking a year off”

  1. I called my barber and he says a deal to send Chipper and McCann to the Mets for Angel Pagan and Oliver Perez should go down this afternoon.

    The deal will free up money and take some of the presure off Frenchy and allow him to grown in to the .265 25 101 guy we know he can be. As a sign of support, Wren is going to give Jeffy a 10 year $400 million deal.

  2. (from the last thread)

    Cary-

    I agree…Josh Willingham would be a nice pick up.

    Re: the rotation vs. the outfield debate

    Look, ultimately, Wren did a decent job this offseason since the starting rotation is stacked with depth galore in the farm system.

    But he only gets a C+ from me because AAR is absolutely right – the outfield, offensively, is still a joke.

    I DO think Francouer and Diaz will both hit better than 2008. How much better? I have no idea. This is mostly a guess, just feel like they are better than THAT. I am in the minority on Garrett Anderson. I think he’s still a solid hitter, a professional, will do pretty well with the at bats he’s given.

    I think everyone is ignoring what seems to be the breakthrough of Jordan Schafer. I think he’s a legit ROY candidate and will put up some good all around numbers now that he’s finally given an opportunity in the show.

    However, while I like our 5-man rotation a lot, the fact is, we didn’t HAVE to sign Glavine again or even Kawakami. Yes, the rotation was trash last year. We needed an ace (and Derek Lowe fit the bill). We needed an innings eating 3rd starter (Javy Vazquez, welcome back to the National League). We already have Jurrgjens who will be a solid #2 starter.

    Had we not spent those big bucks say on Kawakami, we could have signed Adam Dunn, easily and still had the money left over to sign Ohman.

    The, you now all of a sudden have a transformed offensive lineup with Dunn in the #4 spot providing massive insurance to Chipper and McCann. This is a lineup currently that doesn’t have anyone really bad, but doesn’t have a true, healthy, everyday mauler in the middle.

    Considering what we all saw from Tommy Hanson, and frankly, even Reyes this Spring, we could have gone with a Lowe-Jurrgjens-Vazquez-Hanson-Reyes rotation which could arguably be as good, and then had Adam Dunn in the outfield (and also would have meant not wasting the cash on Garret) to fill the middle of the lineup and Ohman providing the lefthander we so clearly need.

    And for those defending O’Flaherty and Logan? WHY? I know Spring Training isn’t the end all, be all. That is true when you talk about proven veterans like Chipper, Lowe and McCann. We know (if healthy) what THOSE guys will do.

    But you have to seriously worry about O’Flaherty and Logan who have been getting SHELLED in the spring with no reasonable help within the roster at that spot.

    Apparently, we all have short memories. But Mac, do you remember a certain Spring Training when Tom Martin was the “only” LOOGY option and he spent the Spring getting his a** handed to him only to have the parade of a** kicking continue into the start of the season? That’s what it appears we can expect from either of these two. While Ohman fills the need we have for the Dodgers.

  3. @80 from previous thread

    Trading for Josh Willingham sounds like a great idea, but which roster spot does Willingham take? Diaz? Norton? I don’t see where Willingham would fit. I would rather have him than Garret Anderson (and probably Frenchy) but we all know neither of them will get cut.

    Weldon, I’d handle it this way. Get Diaz and Norton together..

    Me: [addressing Diaz and Norton] Now, our roster is small, but there’s a lot of potential for “agressive” win expansion. So, which one of you gentlemen would like to join our team? Oh, there’s only one spot open right now, so we’re gonna have..

    [breaks bat over knee Bo Jackson style]

    Me: ..Tryouts

    [tosses broken bat at backups]

    Me: Make it fast.

    Taaa-daaaa

  4. Cary,

    I’m far more excied by what Mac just shared with us…the current (and it’s not an April Fool’s joke) chance to bid online to coach the ‘white’ side vs. Maroon in the Mississippi State Spring game.

    Cary…shall we bid? :-)

  5. I don’t believe in holding up an improvement among starters because of fears of losing a backup (or wasting backup $$), so I’d send Norton or the next least valuable player out and bring in Willingham.

    I’d install The Hammer as the everyday left fielder and tell Garrett that he’ll be well rested for the Playoffs. Anderson could spell Willingham in right field once or twice a week and pinch-hit the remainder. Diaz could pick up starts at 1B and RF, spelling Kotchman and Francoeur, pinch-hitting the remainder.

    I’d also grab 3B Dallas McPherson for AAA Gwinett as Chipper insurance–classic “the back-ups in AAA” move. Gwinnett fans like the long ball, I assume. Cheers to them.

  6. RE: rotation vs. outfield
    Coming into the offseason, the rotation was priority #1 and with good reason. It is much easier to win with a good rotation and a suspect outfield than vice-versa. IOW, it’s easier to win games 3-2 and 4-3 than it is to try to win every game 8-7.

    Sure, in hindsight the Kawakami signing was overkill, but at the time of the signing Lowe was leaning toward the Mets and Dunn was asking for something like 3/36. But AT THE TIME OF THE SIGNING, Kawakami made sense. We needed innings. Hanson hadn’t dominated the AFL yet, and it would have been stupid to assume that he would.

    Besides, having a glut of quality pitching is a nice problem to have.

  7. I just got done with my futures betting, since I have kind of a slow morning at work. The Braves are pretty undervalued this year, and I actually placed a bet on them every step of the way. I mean, they’re given half the chance to win the NL as the Phillies, even though they’re roughly as good, if not better.

    So, yeah, bet on Braves this year, at least early on. The team can use phrases like, “No one gave us a chance” or “the media disrespeks us” or “we were the underdog, but we overcame trials and tribulations to win the title.” All that cliche crap. I’m actually looking forward to the Braves being called “surprisingly competitive” as they compete for the NL East.

  8. #6

    No question having a glut on starting pitching helps. That’s one area where I think the Braves do have a distinct advantage over the Mets & Phils.

    While they will have to figute out a way to aquire a starting pitcher for the stretch run, if we’re in it, we’ll likely be looking to acquire a hitter.

    The crazy part is that we have 5 good starting pitchers, at least 3-4 more Major League worthy ones in the farm, and some dude named TIM HUDSON who may be back in August.

    It’s a good problem to have – yes – but it was also overkill.

    It’s like the Nats with 6 starting quality, overpaid outfielders but not much else.

    And though we weren’t 100% sure Hanson would be ready, again acquiring Lowe and Vazquez would have been enough help at the front end of the rotation (along with Jurrgjens) to give more “space” for Hanson to compete and the Braves more financial flexibility to add a bopper (Dunn) and a LOOGY (Ohman).

  9. @8
    But Lowe wasn’t guaranteed when KK was signed. We had Vasquez, Jurjenns, the remnants of last years staff, the eternal hope that Hanson would be ready at some point, and the eternal hope that Tim Hudson will be effective late in the year.

    KK made sense. A lot of sense.

  10. I like Kawakami. He looks really good and looks like a pitcher who could be a highly effective, innings eating starter. Far more Daisuke vs. Irabu.

    But I again disagree – he wasn’t necessary. We’re better with him, but we had enough without him.

  11. Last year, however, the primary problem for the first four months of the season WAS the outfield. The Braves got great production from catcher and their infield, overall, had solid starting pitching up through the AS Break at least, but were so dreadful in the outfield that most of the aforementioned strengths were canceled out. Well, it was that and Bobby’s horrifying infatuation with wasting outs and overusing relievers. I’m not saying starting pitching wasn’t the priority–I would still have ranked it the top one–but I am saying that (1) the outfield was a close second, and (2) Wren doesn’t seem to feel that same sense of urgency.

    Again: this offseason provided a great opportunity to deal with the outfield, and deal with it relatively cheaply. With THAT in mind, and simply grading Wren for the whole team, he should be graded down. I wouldn’t give him a C or anything, but he’s certainly not gonna win any exec of the year awards either.

  12. And to follow up further now on Adam M’s point at #11, we cannot hope to win every game 2-1. Sure, we won’t just score 2 runs everytime. I’m sure we;ll have the occassional 8 run explosion – every team does.

    But day to day, without any real thunder in the middle of the lineup and the fact that our two best hitters are both prime candidates for regular DL visits, our lineup has the potential to be atrocious. (not saying it will, but has the potential).

  13. I have no problem with most of Wren’s moves – I’m even reasonably upbeat on Glavine – I know many of you are not. My biggest issue is that after the Griffey deal fell through I think Wren panicked in getting Garrett Anderson. Anderson is a decent player who used to be really good. I think he’ll do okay, but he won’t give us much more than what we could have gotten in house.

    Wren said for quite a while that he wasn’t in a hurry to make a move and could even wait until the season started. I think we would be better off if he stuck by this. We now have a surplus of pitchers (not a bad thing), but I don’t think we’ll make a trade for an impact outfielder because Anderson is around.

  14. Going in to the off-season our strength was the infield – esp. Yunel’s defense/offense combination at SS. We had a 1b and a 3B with above-average to superior defense skills and our 2B was average at worst (imo anyway).

    We leveraged that strength by signing Lowe, who needs a good infield behind him, and I’m sure Kawikami and Vasquez will not be sad that this particular IF plays behind them as well. Of course, it didn’t address our atrocious OF, but Rome wasn’t built in a day either.

    Plus, the FA options for the OF all had reputations as terrible defenders (Dunn, Burrell, and Abreu reminded no one of 1979-era Gary Maddox). And, if 2008 taught us anything with the Rays, it was that a good defense CAN lead to a significant improvement in wins. Will the Braves replicate that improvement? Maybe not, but I do think Wren has set us fans up with a 2009 team that if it catches some breaks can surprise many, and a future in 2010 and beyond that looks very bright.

  15. @13 I can’t believe we underpaid for Yu. He must not have had Boras as his agent.

  16. To counter the Yu signing, the Mets have come to terms with super 80’s prospect, Sid Fynch, on a 3 year deal worth $36 million.

    Fynch is project to be the #2 starter behind Santana.

  17. When I first saw the title “taking a year off,” I thought you were joking about actually not blogging for a year, Mac, haha. Is your treatment going well?

  18. The Braves couldn’t sign another Japanese pitcher because Furman Bisher would think they were coming to bomb Pearl Harbor again.

  19. Don’t know if people have mentioned this, but Brett Myers will be the opening night starter for the Phils.

    Supposedly, the Phils are just being cautious with Hamels.

    Is Myers really the Phils #2? Seems a little modest for the defending champs.

  20. I think Hamels is supposed to pitch in a Saturday exhibition. Does that mean we’ll miss him in the opening series?

  21. giving a grade to Frank Wren now is like deciding on who to vote for in American Idol after watching them warm up.

    Frank Wren should be graded on how his teams succeed on the field. Frank Wren’s collection of talent needs to win, this year. He has 2 sub .500 records with 2 teams not overly restrained by payroll. His idea of focusing his payroll on starting pitching in lieu of outfield bats looks good now, but we will see, 162 games from now.

  22. #25

    bfan, the difference between Frank Wren and “American Idol” is that I actually follow and watch the Braves. If I ever sat through 2 minutes of that stupid Fox karaoke contest, I’m likely to take up arms and hold hostages.

    If something stupid happens on the unwatchable “Idol” I don’t care. When Wren does something stupid say like fail to get us another hitter, it actually hurts me.

  23. Frank Wren should be graded on how his teams succeed on the field. Frank Wren’s collection of talent needs to win, this year. He has 2 sub .500 records with 2 teams not overly restrained by payroll.

    This is simply untrue. Wren’s first two years as GM were extremely constrained by payroll. The fact that the team as a whole had a reasonably large payroll doesn’t mean Wren had free reign to use it as he liked. He was constrained by existing contracts, many of them quite large and unmovable (even if he’d wanted to.) Frank Wren didn’t bring Mike Hampton to Atlanta, but he sure as hell had to account for his $15 mil per year in 2007 and 2008. Wren didn’t extend Smoltz or Hudson, but he sure did have to account for their double digit millions when adding up how he was going to pay for his teams that included them. Saying he wasn’t constrained by payroll misses the forest for the trees.

  24. @2: You’re really fudging with your math there Alex. Dunn signed for 2/$20 and Kawakami was something like 3/$23. Assuming that Dunn would’ve picked Atlanta if we matched the Nats offer, which includes the assumption that the Nats wouldn’t have gone higher, then Kawakami + Anderson = Dunn, but there isn’t anything left over that would’ve let us afford Ohman.

    As for the O’Flaherty/Logan discussion, I threw these stats out yesterday (career splits against LHB, LHB faced):

    O’Flaherty: .231/.311/.308, 149
    Logan: .272/.336/.415, 245

    You have to look a little deeper than just their overall stats, because they’ve never been used in a LH specialist role. Same goes for this ST, they’ve been worked for whole innings and sometimes more than that at a time. They’ve each had a bumpy outing or two, but the vast majority of their appearances have been pretty solid. I’ll agree I would’ve liked to add Ohman back, but I’m also fine with giving these guys a shot, and keeping some additional flexibility if we need to make mid-summer improvements. If we’re in contention we will, and if not we’ll save some cash and let these guys have at it.

  25. Gadfly, I’m in no way fudging math. And this coming from the person who ignores math to be one of Jeff Francouer’s only staunch defenders on BravesJournal?

    And Gadfly, you also chose to ignore the point that I made that we wouldn’t have BOTHERED signing Garret Anderson if we had Dunn.

    So yes, we could have had Dunn AND Ohman instead of Kawakami and Anderson. I thought I was clear (or at least plainly obvious) that signing Dunn pretty much would have put an end to us singing Anderson.

    O’Flaherty:

    In 2006, had a 4.09 ERA, in 2007 a 4.47 ERA and in just 6.7 IP in the 2008 season for the Mariners, had a 20.27 ERA.

    Logan:

    his ERAs in his 3 recent MLB seasons: 8.31 then 4.97 and then 5.95.

    It’s on Baseball Reference so go look it up if you’re such a big fan of numbers.

  26. Sorry, and silly me for judging Logan and O’Flaherty’s Major League performances. I realize that’s just an asinine way to look at players!

    And you know, Francouer was once on the cover of S.I. and looks great in the weight room. I think we need to lock him into a long term deal, now.

  27. Outfield v. Rotation continued…

    Isn’t looking at just the outfield sort of like looking at just the 4th and 5th starters?

    We might not have needed Kawakami because we’ve got a pretty good 1-3 in the rotation, but without him the 4-5 slots likely go to Glavine and Campillo. We might not have needed Dunn (or another expensive power OF bat) because we have a stellar offensive infield, but without him we’re counting on production from Diaz/Anderson and Francoeur. I think its fair to say the Diaz/Anderson platoon and Glavine are pretty similar bets: both aging pieces that likely have their best days behind them. Campillo and Francoeur are much different bets, and I’d prefer put my big money on Jeff than Jorge back in a starter’s role. Campillo played great for us last year, but he really tailed off at the end, and I think he’ll serve a more useful role in the ‘pen. Which brings me to my last point, if we signed Dunn we would’ve had to cut Diaz or Norton (maybe the Tigers would’ve given us a stud prospect, but we’ll never know.) The Kawakami signing not only deepens our rotation, but it strengthens our bullpen with Campillo’s move there.

  28. Which brings me to my last point, if we signed Dunn we would’ve had to cut Diaz or Norton (maybe the Tigers would’ve given us a stud prospect, but we’ll never know.)

    Um… I think that’s a tradeoff I’m okay with.

  29. Wow Alex, sorry to hit a nerve. I hope you didn’t take my response personally.

    You are flat-out wrong on the math though. Unless you’re simply looking at the total numbers, and not the yearly cost, which isn’t how you look at a budget.

    Dunn’s annual salary for ’09 would be $10 million and, again, that’s assuming that the Nats wouldn’t have gone higher, and Dunn would’ve taken the Braves’ offer over the Nats’ (I highly doubt both points, but I’ll grant them for the sake of argument.)

    Kawakami’s ’09 salary (assuming the 3/$23 million dollar is spread out evenly over the three years, which it probably isn’t, but I’ll grant for the sake of argument) is $7.667 million. Garret’s is $2.5, which together is $10.167.

    I really don’t think Ohman was going to sign for $167,000.

    As for looking at Major League numbers for our LH specialists, that is what I quoted above. The difference being that since they both have never been used in a strict LOOGY role, I removed the stats they put up against RHB (which for both pitchers was about 53% of their total workload.) While they’re likely to face a RHB here or there, with Atlanta’s bullpen depth they’re going to be used overwhelmingly against LHB, so I think it is fair to focus more strongly on their past work in that role.

  30. No Gadfly, you’re wrong. Wrong about the $ (as I pointed out about not signing Ganderson), wrong about O’Flaherty and Logan’s numbers (and genuine effectiveness) and still wrong about Francouer.

    While I hope he’s at least PASSABLE and hits .260, I am not counting on it. It’s hard to have a serious argument with someone who still thinks Francouer is going to be a great player. If Frenchy’s actually great this year, then I’ll be wrong (and will cop to it) along with about 200 others on here.

  31. @33: Haha, now you’re just taking me out of context. I wouldn’t say dropping Diaz or Norton would’ve been a bad move for Dunn. I was just pointing out the domino effect of each signing. For fairness’ sake Kawakami’s signing will probably cost Jeff Bennett his spot with the team. I’m not going to cry over either of these, but I made my real case above. Signing Dunn=betting on Campillo against Francoeur, while signing Kawakami=betting on the reverse. Either way is a gamble, but I’ll take the young athletic outfielder who had a average-to-good 2007 campaign and decent last couple months of ’08 over the grizzled veteran who has only one season of ML work under his belt and imploded in his last 11 starts of ’08 (as much as I love Jorge.)

    I also should note that Kawakami has the potential to provide value in other ways. If he’s successful he’ll garner the Braves a good deal of attention in the Japanese market, which could be a big step for an organization with very little exposure in the Far East. As long as he performs at a decent 4th starter level he’s also more likely to have a tradeable contract if we choose to try to move him somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd year of the deal, but that is less of a factor.

  32. @32: I found that site too, and it looks kind of odd to me. Interesting addition, however, but it doesn’t exactly tell you how O’Flaherty was being used except that he was facing about 5 RHB for every 2 LHB… not exactly what I’d expect from him if he wins the role. (Also the site appears to be excluding his first two seasons in pro ball, but that’s not terribly distortive.) According to Baseball Reference he also pitched 168 innings in 109 games from ’05-’08, and that’s another ratio you’re just not going to see in Atlanta. There’s obviously some room to doubt these guys, I understand that, but there are some pretty important numbers that speak well of them, and shouldn’t be ignored.

    It’s a gamble, but the odds are in our favor. If they both bust then we’ve still got room and pieces to make a deal for a proven commodity, and if they don’t bust we’ve saved that money to go somewhere else AND we’ve got ourselves an up-and-coming left-handed specialist. (I’ll also bring up Moylan’s impressive performance against lefties and Gonzalez’s presence in the ‘pen too, which stacks the deck even more in our favor.)

  33. @37: Well you’ve gone from being unnecessarily offended to spitting out words without even supporting them. Can you please explain to me how $10.167 million – $10 million equals enough to sign Ohman?

    As for O’Flaherty’s and Logan’s numbers, the one’s I stated are correct according to Baseball Reference. They aren’t the whole picture, and I never said they were, but they are a snapshot of the most important past experience of these two guys, namely their experience pitching against LHB in Major League games. (See 39 above for further discussion.)

    As for Frenchy, I’ve never said he WOULD be a “great” player. In my heart I hope he will be, and in my head I know that he COULD be if he’s able to overcome a few mental and emotional hurdles, but I haven’t seen enough yet this Spring to translate that into thinking he WILL be a great player. However, the bulk of my discussion on this site has been focused on showing people that he doesn’t “suck,” as he is often accused of here, and that he deserves at least a couple months of this upcoming season to redeem himself. If you really can’t take me seriously for holding that benign opinion you’re probably going to need to find a new team to root for, because obviously Bobby and the guys in the front office are in my camp on this one.

    Batting down strawmen is much more fun than the work I’m avoiding!

  34. At this point, I would be willing to bet that Wren would rather have Dunn than Kawakami/Anderson. Unfortunately, when KK was signed, Wren didn’t know that he would have Lowe in the rotation. And once again, AT THE TIME OF THE SIGNING, Dunn’s asking price was well north of 2/20.

    Frank didn’t have the advantage of seeing the roster on April 1st when he signed Kawakami. It was a good move. It’s just a shame it cost us the opportunity to chase Dunn later.

  35. Gadfly, I’m not remotely offended. I actually don’t care, I just needed to correct you.

  36. Might be worth pointing out:

    Escobar’s throwing error in today’s game is his FIFTH error of the spring.

  37. @44: Well I’m glad you weren’t offended, and I would love for you to correct me if I have erred. Just saying I’m wrong isn’t correcting me though. You’re going to need to back it up with a little more than your opinion.

    @45: Hopefully that’s just the result of a little bad luck and maybe trying to do too much. Let’s hope its just a blip on the radar, and he’s got it all out of his system by Sunday.

  38. On an Atlanta Braves Fans application on Facebook, I just got a notification that Derek Lowe was traded to the Mets. Come on, that’s not even a believable April Fool’s joke.

  39. braves14, yeah, saw that and it did send me to “April Fool’s!” and then offered me a deal on buying Braves merchandise.

    I have to second you that they should have thought of something a bit more believable.

  40. @47: Well we had to find some way to make room for our newly-signed LOOGY: Mike Vick.

  41. @44:

    Dude not to be a dick, but I fail to see where you corrected him. You just said he was wrong.

    You asserted that by not signing Kawakami or Anderson, we’d have had enough for both Dunn and Will Ohman.

    Gadfly then illustrated that Kawakami + Anderson = 167,000 more than Dunn actually signed for (ignoring that theoretically you’d have to BEAT the Nat’s offer, not match it.) and Ohman would not sign for only $167,000 more than Logan is getting.

    It looks a lot less like an argument and a lot more like a temper tantrum that an unpopular poster is questioning your.. well.. temper tantrum.

  42. Alex R,

    I agree with you generally about the outfield but it seems to me the Braves simply never had any interest in Dunn. He is not their (Bobby’s) type of player, perhaps. I do think they could and should have done better than Garrett Anderson–who is, I think, Bobby’s type of player–but given the situation with the pitching last year, I can understand focusing on that. The real problem, which I think people have focused on, is that there seem to have been some bargains available that provided better value that the Braves didn’t go for. Frankly, I think this goes back to Bobby. I’m convinced that he wields a lot of power in the organization and that what he says pretty much goes.

  43. #50

    I pointed out my stats and case earlier and I’m not wasting time repeating myself, jjschiller. It’s not my job to re-post what I previously posted.

  44. Also, JJschiller and Gadfly, you both have failed to point out that I ALSO mentioned about it being unecessary to re-sign Glavine…there’s your Will Ohman $2 million.

    And I really hate repeating myself.

  45. As much as I’ve enjoyed the back-and-forth, I’m going to have to chime in:

    Alex, I think you misunderstood Gadfly from the beginning. He’s absolutely right when it comes to the salary calculation. He’s also citing the correct major-leaue stats of the lefty relievers you guys are arguing about.

  46. Gary Sheffield thinks Gary Sheffield was the best athlete on the Tigers.

    Was he even remotely correct?

    If so, do we want him as the right-handed power bat we currently don’t have? He could play some 3B if necessary (and a whole lot of RF for my money) …

  47. Stu,

    And let me chime back. Please look up Logan and O’Flaherty on “Baseball Reference”. It’s black and white.

    if the numbers had been different from what’s sitting there, I would have conceded that point to Gadfly 2 hours ago.

    But the numbers are bad. Mac has also pointed this out.

  48. Perhaps this will help? Kawakami makes $7.667 mill next year, and $6.667 mill the next two years; $2 mill of his contract was a signing bonus.

    Also per Cot’s, Dunn will make $8 mill this year and $12 mill in 2010.

    Will Ohman will make $1.35 mill this year, with a possible additional $425,000 in incentives; next year, the club has a $2.2 million option, including $475,000 in incentives, and a $200,000 buyout.

    As Jean Grae would say, get your learn on. Cot’s Baseball Contracts makes arguments a lot easier.

  49. I’ve often wondered about the wussfest that was the Francouer demotion / promotion last year.

    Now, I think I know why.

    Delta announced that they are moving their sports marketing dollars to New York, leaving only their sponsorship of the Braves in play.

    They’ve (unwisely) chosen Francouer as their local spokesman.

    The arrogance with which they conduct themselves in this town is palpable. And tiring, considering their Management by Cluster approach to the last few decades.

    1 + 1 + 1 = Wren having to be publicly emasculated and act in ways that were not in the best interest of the team. Or Jeff, frankly.

    We really need to diversify our commercial base.

  50. @51: Which bargains are you talking about specifically? There certainly were a lot of OFers available, and a few signed for less than I would’ve expected in a different economic situation, but they still didn’t come all that cheap. Abreu is the only one that I have found myself intrigued by, but maybe I’m forgetting someone. As for Abreu, we would’ve certainly had to beat the LA Angels of Anaheim, California, USA, North America, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy offer because of the innate advantages the Angels could provide (DH, more competitive team in weaker division.) So where would that ~$6 million have come from? It just isn’t easy to say.

    @2 Alex R. says: “Had we not spent those big bucks say on Kawakami, we could have signed Adam Dunn, easily and still had the money left over to sign Ohman.”

    You do mention not needing to sign Glavine as well, but not in connection with the Dunn for KK and Ohman, which I quoted above.

    There is an argument to be made that we should’ve signed Ohman instead of Glavine, but I think it is fatally weakened if you connect it with an argument that includes not signing KK. If we hadn’t signed Glavine or KK we’d be looking at this rotation: Lowe, Vazquez, Jurrjens, Campillo, Reyes. Maybe that works out, but I think it works out to be a much bigger gamble than trying Logan and/or O’Flaherty in the LOOGY role and Diaz/Anderson in LF. (Once again including Moylan and Gonzalez as great against lefties, and Schafer, Heyward, B. Jones as insurance policies if Diaz AND Anderson don’t produce. With your proposal if Campillo and/or Reyes don’t pan out we’re back to Morton, Carlyle and hoping Hanson can make the jump without hurting his development, or Hudson makes a miraculous return in time to contribute… not a situation I want to be in again.)

  51. Kiss of Death Dept:
    SI picks Mets to win World Series.

    FWIW, they have the Braves winning 84, Phils winning WC with 89.

  52. #59

    Gadfly. Quite simply, you could take campillo out of your projected, Adam Dunn signed rotation and after S.T., go with this:

    Lowe, Jurrgjens, Vazquez, Hanson, Reyes.

    That’s still a reliable rotation, Hanson has the chance to be a Major League stud NOW, and the only real question mark is your 5th starter, Reyes.

    Now you’ve not spent the money on Glavine, Kawakami, Garret Anderson (and let me throw Dave Ross into the mix…sorry, Stu), and that’s plenty of coins left over to sign Adam Dunn and Will Ohman.

    I just feel that would have been a better overall use of funds. Especially with Campillo still available in Richmond and Hudson maybe in August.

  53. @59

    Again,

    I don’t understand how it is possible to have a 19 year old in Heyward as a insurance policy against Anderson/Diaz, but you fail to recognize that possibility of using Tommy Hanson, our AFL MVP, (who is MUCH closer to the show than Heyward) in the same manner.

    Really, he is the main reason that Dunn would be preferable to sign over Kawakami. The available pitching depth is much better in quality AND quantity than the depth for the outfield.

    EDIT: Beat me to it Alex R., but I’ve been trying to make the same point as well

  54. @57: Wow, I never knew such a site existed. I’ve always been annoyed by the lack of available resources to figure out contract specifics, and I figured it was just clubs reluctance to make unnecessary details public, but I guess I just wasn’t looking hard enough. Thanks for the help. Going from those figures it looks like we could’ve just about signed Dunn and Ohman for what we’re paying KK (granting the assumptions I stated above, and including the $2 million signing bonus in this year’s figure, which it may or may not be.) HOWEVER, it would’ve put us on the hook for Dunn at $12 million next year, plus Ohman at ~$2.5 with a $200K buyout, instead of having KK’s contract at under $7 million for the next two seasons. If Kawakami provides decent production that contract will be a huge steal, and would be an easily tradeable commodity if necessary. If Dunn provides his regular production $12 million isn’t a bad bargain either, but it is a large chunk of our resources, and it may be superfluous if Heyward is ready to go by then (assuming Francoeur has righted his course.) Like most of Wren’s moves this offseason, KK is a much better signing, IMO, in terms of how it affects the team in 2010 than Dunn would’ve been.

    @58: Leaving the interests of the Braves aside, sending Francoeur to the minors would not be good for him. As he showed in his weekend stint in Pearl, he’ll just dominate AA pitching, which will reinforce the notion that he doesn’t need to make the adjustments that he DESPERATELY needs to make. It might have been the right move for the Braves to stick him down there, though I don’t think we had any suitable replacement option and we weren’t too far from being completely out of contention, and at that point what’s best for Jeff’s development became what’s best for the Braves.

  55. Thanks, Ethan. I do appreciate someone seeing my point of view.

    And Hanson showed he can mow down Major League hitters. Maybe the most painful thing this Spring was seeing the fact that we were FORCED to send him down because we had simply too mant starters.

    Again, starting pitching depth is FANTASTIC. Kawakami looks like the real deal – I agree with all of it.

    I’m just saying if you have a certain amount of $ available, you have to make sure and improve all facets of your team, not just put together some all star rotation with a rickety lineup behind it.

  56. Geez – how does Gadfly type that fast.

    It seems like every time I hit refresh he’s written another chapter for his book.

  57. Gadfly,

    Whether you think the Minors would have helped Francouer or not wasn’t the issue for most folks in here.

    The issue I had and other people had was that he whined like a little bitch about it. He blamed everyone else for his problems. The fact that he acted like a primadonna is what riled us.

    So while I don’t necessarily take an opposing view from you about the minors helping or hurting Frenchy, we’ll never really know, it was his surly attitude about it rather than eating a piece of humble pie, looking at his cruddy statistics, and saying, “no problem, skip, I’ll go and work on my game.”

  58. @62: I included Heyward in the mix, because I think he’ll be in a position to contribute come August, and certainly in September if necessary. You can discount him if you wish. I also did include Hanson in the mix to move into the rotation if necessary, but I would be very cautious in making that move, especially from Opening Day as Alex R. suggests.

    Also, at the time of the signings, the Braves were likely going to have Josh Anderson starting in CF, which would’ve allowed Jordan Schafer to serve as an insurance policy in left… not to mention a whole host of other ML-proven scab options: Blanco, Norton, Infante AND guys like Prado (or KJ with Prado at 2B) and Brandon Jones. If Heyward continues his progression the way I think he will then you’ve got another great option… of course with the Garret Anderson signing you still have two options in Garret and Diaz before you even have to resort to that list. Without KK and Glavine you’re already relying on the starter replacement list from day one: Campillo, Jo-Jo, Morton, Carlyle, Hanson… with two of these guys already in the rotation from opening day.

    @61: As I said above, that would be putting a ton of pressure and reliance on a guy with only 98 IP in AA, and 28 2/3 IP in AFL. From what I’ve seen of Hanson, which is limited, I got the impression that he needs at least another couple months in the minors to fine tune his control, which of course has the side benefit of delaying his arbitration clock. He also had a pretty brief offseason with his run in the AFL, and if we put him in the fire in April he’s bound to be run down by the time we really will need him.

  59. ububba – I love it. I very much prefer as well not being picked.

    I’m still trying to figure out the Mets and Phillies rotations…

  60. @64: We weren’t forced to send Hanson down, we did it for the sake of his development. And when did he prove he can mow down ML hitters? He tore up the AFL, and he had some impressive, and some less impressive, work in the Grapefruit League, but that isn’t the same as the Majors. If Bobby and Frank thought Hanson was for sure ready to go they would cut Glavine and avoid the bonus money he’ll make on Opening Day. If he is ready to go by the end of May, I’m guessing that’s exactly what will happen (before Tom gets his June bonus,) unless other complications have arisen, or Tommy accepts a reduced role in the ‘pen (very unlikely.)

    As for rickety lineup, I think you’re vastly underestimating what we already have in place. Our OF production last year was pathetic, but it has potential to improve with Diaz’s return and possibly a ressurection of the 2007 Francoeur or better. None of that really matters though, as we could conceivably put together a pretty decent 1-5 in our lineup using only the guys in the infield.

    @65: It is amazing what I can do to avoid focusing on my upcoming deadline…

  61. @66: I would’ve much rather seen that sort of reaction from Jeff, but I think it is hard to fault a very young guy in a very emotional situation from expressing the way he actually feels when approached by the media. Think about the first time you failed at something you love and lost a job, and imagine how you would’ve reacted if you were approached within the hour by a cadre of reporters… now some of that persisted longer than I would’ve liked, which happens with privileged athletes, but he certainly appears to be past that at this point.

    @69: You’d still be trying to figure out the Braves rotation too, if we hadn’t signed KK and Glavine.

  62. Meanwhile… all this discussion and no one has even brought up the Braves new facility in Tenerife! I can’t wait for the first wave of Spanish talent to come pouring into our system, and I’m psyched to see Atlanta leading the charge to internationalize the game.

  63. I love this site! While people are arguing about something, others go look up stats!

    jjschiller, where you refering to a movie in your #40 post?

  64. Dusty, thanks for the link.

    I have actually cited those stats before on this site, claiming that Gorkys should be our future centerfielder and Schafer’s bat would mature enough to cover a corner position.

    Watching Schafer, he looks better than the TZR stats. Cannot speak for Gorkys, but considering sample size and the defensive stats, he looks like the best defensive outfielder in the who,e minor league system. Could Coastal Field have contributed?

  65. You’re deranged if you’re counting on Heyward to be a major contributor at any time this year or, frankly, next year.

  66. “Lowe, Jurrgjens, Vazquez, Hanson, Reyes.

    That’s still a reliable rotation, Hanson has the chance to be a Major League stud NOW, and the only real question mark is your 5th starter, Reyes.”

    This is quite simply absurd. Tommy Hanson had a great AFL and a good spring, but he’s never pitched a day above AA in his career. Yet you would put him in the rotations with no “real question markt?” That’s just insane. Hanson’s a great arm and I expect he’ll contribute in Atlanta sooner – this year even – rather than later. But major league rotations are not built by blindly assuming your super-prospect is going to make the jump from AA without a hitch or two along the way.

    It’s not unreasonbale to say Hanson is a quality option for the back of the rotation, but you’re talking like he’s John Smoltz in his prime. He’s not. He’s more ready for the majors than Jason Heyward, but less ready than Jordan Schafer.

  67. AAR – Having seen both Rasmus and Schafer play center a few times now, my eyeball tells me Schafer is a much better defender (yes, much), though TZR says otherwise. Now, my eyeball has a much smaller sample size than those stats, but you make a valid point.

    OTOH, scouts said Martin Prado was a good defender. Check out his TZR stats from the minors. They disagree with scouts and support what we all have seen.

  68. @79: Deranged seems like a bit of a stretch. I’ll give you optimistic, and note that I never said I was sure of anything… it’s just my guess based on what I’ve seen from Heyward over the last two years.

    Just for a quick reference, some stats:

    Heyward: 449 ABs, .323/.388/.483, 49 BB, 74 SO, 15 SB, 3 CS, 7.50 RC/G

    These are from last year, his 2nd professional season, in 120 games at Rome in the South Atlantic League (I excluded the 7 games at Myrtle Beach.)

    Andruw Jones: 537 ABs, .277/.361/.512, 70 BB, 122 SO, 56! SB, 11 CS, 6.71 RC/G

    These are from Andruw’s 2nd professional season, at the age of 18, in 139 games at Macon of the South Atlantic League. Andruw made his ML debut in August of the next year (in RF,) and the rest is history.

    Francoeur: 524 ABs, .281/.319/.445, 30 BB, 68 SO, 14 SB, 6 CS, 4.93 RC/G

    These are from Jeff’s 2nd professional season, in 134 games in Rome. He spent the next year between Myrtle Beach and Greenville (ah that takes me back,) started the season after that in AA, and then made his debut in July at the age of 21 (in RF.)

    I think Heyward is probably somewhere inbetween these two. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets ~100 ABs this August-September like Andruw did in ’96, and I expect him to come to camp next year with a chance at winning a starting job. Of course there are always obstacles that make projecting a prospects development that far out hard to do, (see Schafer, Jordan) but it does look to be in the realm of possibility that Heyward is in the starting lineup next March. He is, afterall, part horse.

  69. @68

    Quoting Sam @ 81

    “It’s not unreasonbale to say Hanson is a quality option for the back of the rotation…He’s more ready for the majors than Jason Heyward”

    That’s all I was saying. If you have a finite amount of resources, using them to sign Dunn over Kawakami would make more sense simply because, as an insurance policy, Hanson is much closer to being ready than Heyward and overall, the quality of depth in pitching is substantially greater than it is for the OF.

  70. Good Lord, this might be the most pathetic BJ thread I’ve ever had the misfortune to stumble over. Please, God, let ST end.

  71. Andruw was also an historically good CF while he was in the minors. And you’ll recall he was pretty bad his first couple of years in the majors. Heyward’s merely a very good RF.

    And comparing Heyward to Francoeur is hardly an argument for bringing him up sooner rather than later….

  72. Yeah, it is a little lame.

    Arguing is fun, but I’m really ready for real baseball.

  73. As much as I like the back-and-forth banter, let me add something that should squash most of the debate. You can’t say that the Braves shouldn’t have signed Kawakami so they could have gotten an outfielder. That would have been a logical argument if he had signed AFTER Lowe. But, the fact is that he signed BEFORE Lowe. In my mind, this means that the Braves were going hard after him in the case that we were unable to pick up any of our top options. If the Braves had the ability to forcast the future, they could have avoided the signing and tried to pursue an outfielder instead. But because they don’t have that ability, they didn’t want to take the chance on missing out on everyone that was available. Makes sense to me anyways. Feel free to debate.

  74. @90: Good point, this discussion has taken for granted a wide range of assumptions… that’s the fun of ST arguments though, and so I’ll echo the calls from Ethan and others, and say I can’t wait until Sunday!

    @84: There are so many question marks involved with both the outfield depth and the backend pitching depth of this Braves team, that it is hard to say which is better at this point. However, I think the probability that we’ll need to access that pitching depth is higher than the probability that we’d need to access the OF depth, so I prefer KK’s contract over Dunn’s, especially when the other factors I’ve mentioned before come into play.

  75. @90

    I see your point, but as I said to Sam yesterday, they signed Kawakami on January 10th and Lowe on the 13th.

    While none of us really know, it seems implausible to me that either of those happened in a vacuum

  76. Bobby on Glavine’s fastball today: “It’s sneaky-quick.”

    Does anyone else feel like this phrase is making its way towards being added to the glossary?

  77. @87: First off, how Andruw and Jeff did once they made it to the majors is besides the point. I was using their progression to outline the sort of developmental trajectory that I see Heyward travelling.

    That being said, both Andruw and Jeff were “major contributors” at about the same age/experience level that Heyward should reach in August/September. Without Francoeur in 2005 we quite possibly would still be touting the Braves record streak of 13 division titles, instead of 14. Andruw hit 3 postseason homers in 29 ABs in ’96 and was a fulltime starter the next season, who provided about average offensive production for a CF and outstanding defense (though he did play RF on many occasions.)

    While I’d agree that Jeff and Kyle Davies both provide good examples as to why we shouldn’t rush Heyward or Hanson, I wasn’t addressing that. I don’t know enough about Heyward’s mental makeup to express an opinion about his readiness from that perspective. The case I was making was that we likely will, or could, be bringing up Heyward. It’s possible that with Francoeur fresh in their minds we might play it more cautiously, but I think if Heyward is developing like he should, and Atlanta is deep in the playoff hunt and in need of some help in the OF, I don’t think Wren will hesitate to put Jason out there.

  78. Happy Birthday Phil!

    Speaking of Niekros, has anyone heard anything from minor league camp on Lance?

  79. That title is kinda misleading. When you read it, you think Ross might be done for the season, but it’s really for the first couple weeks. Shame on you, braves.com

  80. well since we have no one else even remotely close in the org, I consider three better than two. Keep Ross and have Sammons in AAA just in case.

  81. How valuable will surplus ML starters be in July and August in a trade for an outfielder or prospects? You never have too many pitchers. We had too few last couple of years.

  82. I did the draft last night for the ONE Fantasy Baseball League that I do now, and I have Derek Lowe, Kawakami and John Smoltz.

    I guess I was trying to have some players I KNOW I’d be paying attention to.

    I may have already missed the announcement but Mac, were you doing another Bravesjournal/fantasy league and did I miss my chance to join?

  83. #90

    Joshua, your post is definitely the most valid side to the argument against my point. You’re 100% right that Kawakami did sign before Lowe though it seemed we had things worked out with Lowe – of course, it seemed we had things ‘worked out’ with Furcal, too.

    I might have gone harder on Lowe earlier and get him signed first & stayed talking w/ Kawakami. While you make a good point, I would have set my time frame up differently if I were the Braves, made sure you worked a contract out with Lowe (and keeping in mind we already had long since traded for Javy Vazquez) and once that happened, focused completely on working out a deal with Adam Dunn.

    Again, I know we’re repeating yesterday’s arguments, but a Lowe-Jurrgjens-Vazquez-Hanson-Reyes rotation is still very good and now with Ohman in the bullpen instead of one of these two stiffs and Adam Dunn in the middle of our batting order, and no Garret Anderson on the team.

    Again, just food for thought.

    As it stands, our lineup is a Chipper and McCann injury away from being the Royals or Pirates. Even with Chipper and McCann, we may already be that, offensively.

  84. AAR-

    Yeah, I heard about that deal this morning on ESPN radio. They don’t even have Dave Dombrowski anymore and the Marlins still annoyingly make good deals. Bastards.

    And in turn, the Orioles continue to be one of the most inept organizations around. Add in the brilliance of the Nationals having SIX outfielders who are either overpaid or troublemakers (none of whom they can give away) and the Beltway teams are a mess.

  85. Penn doesn’t seem like anything special to me. I mean, I realize Andino isn’t, either, but I wouldn’t call the Marlins “smart” for trading a nothing for a nothing. There are plenty of former top prospects who suck in the present.

    On a related note, remember when we had a deal in place that would have sent LaRoche and Giles to the Orioles for Penn and Brian Roberts?

  86. Yeah, I wasn’t a huge fan of that deal at the time, mostly because I’ve never really liked Brian Roberts. In a reference for old Braves Journalers, this fact, among other things, makes me the anti-jenny.

    I dunno — as far as I’m concerned, if you can trade a no-hit backup infielder for a former top pitching prospect, you do that every time. Penn may never do anything, but he has a ceiling. Andino’s ceiling is basically Keith Lockhart.

  87. Stu,

    From what we’ve seen of Hayden Penn, no, doesn’t appear to be special, but you are smart for getting a shot to take a “flier” on a former pitching prospect stud for an infielder who’s useless.

    So, while this isn’t likely to improve Florida, it’s still a “typical” smart Marlin trade.

    Mark Bradley is an optimist:

    http://blogs.ajc.com/mark-bradley-blog/2009/04/02/the-braves-in-2009-is-a-wild-card-such-a-wild-notion/

    This goes into the category of “if everything goes right and falls into place”.

    I don’t think his column is too far off the mark. I do think we will be in it this year. Not saying we will make the playoffs, but I think we’re in this to September, despite the fact that I don’t think we will score a ton of runs. I am hopeful to at least be middle of the pack in NL runs scored but among the top 2 for starting pitching ERA and wins.

  88. Ah, a Jenny reference! Somewhere, in the great white north, our long lost friend Jenny is lovin’ her Red Sox, Orioles and Braves, equally…supposedly :-)

  89. I dunno — as far as I’m concerned, if you can trade a no-hit backup infielder for a former top pitching prospect, you do that every time. Penn may never do anything, but he has a ceiling. Andino’s ceiling is basically Keith Lockhart.

    Andino is presently useful at the major league level as a defensive specialist. Penn currently appears to have no use at the major league level. This, IMHO, offseets the edge in ceiling you’re talking about. Seems like a pretty even trade to me.

  90. Defensive specialist = code words for “Rafael Belliard”, Stu.

    Penn is worth a flier.

    I’m also going to go out on a limb here…I know, this will sound crazy…stay with me…that the Marlins MAY IN FACT have better pitching instructors and coaches in their system in comparison to the Orioles.

    I know…that’s a shocking thought :-)

  91. @105 – I definately can’t argue that. They probably could have worked the timelines differently. I don’t know what the traffic was like out there on Kawakami at the time, but I know other clubs were interested to be sure. They might have felt that they couldn’t wait to see what Lowe was going to decide. They also might have felt they had a better shot at signing Lowe by having Kawakami to boast in their rotation. But I can’t argue that things probably could have worked out differently. Hindsight is just a great thing to have.

  92. 113—I didn’t say Penn wasn’t worth taking a flier on. I’m just saying he doesn’t have much value right now. Kinda like Andino.

  93. @107

    The Nationals released Pena yesterday, so doesn’t that get them down to Kearns/Dunn/Milledge/Willingham/Dukes now?

  94. #117

    Maybe so, Spike, I missed that one. I love that the Nats have starting outfielders and like one quality starting pitcher.

    For the problems we’re all complaining about as Braves fans, Nats front office issues are far more alarming.

    I’m planning on attending at least 2 of the Braves 3 games in D.C. April 20-22. Here’s hoping we do better than we have in prior years and sweep their a–es.

    #115

    Again, Joshua, a valid point. The Braves may have felt that bringing in Kawakami might finalize the deal with Lowe in that a big time F.A. needed to see another talent ‘choose’ the Braves to know he wasn’t walking into a completely broken situation.

    And after the very public breakdown of the Peavy trade talks, the back to back public “disses” of AJ Burnett and Furcal, the Braves needed some moves to actually work out.

  95. KC–I am on the road so I am going back a couple of threads–I don’t really know what the main difference in Sammons and Briton might be. You might make a case that Sammons is the better hitter, but sense we are talking about prospects who are being groomed for part time positions, it may not be all that relevent. It looks like the Braves have soured on Sammons, but Briton’s year was a bit of a disappointment.

    Parish–I think that Betencourt is the 3rd best catching prospect that the Braves have in the lower minors. He is behind Kennelly and Daniel Matra-Elorigga–whose name I have gloriously misspelled.

    Yes, Pearl will be a challenge for our former Pelicans….

  96. Does anyone know why Bob Horners career ended so abruptly? I was looking at his stats a moment ago and didn’t realize he had such a short career.

  97. I would like to have Wily Mo in AAA, but I doubt he would take that offer. he was brought up to the majors too quick (becasue he demanded that he only spent like three year in the minors and made his contract relfect that.) It really hurt his carrer.

    I saw him play in AA, he was awesome.

  98. Horner left for Japan when he was a free agent, because the owners were in collusion and refusing to sign free agents. He came back after a year but he simply wasn’t good enough anymore — his power was gone and he couldn’t play the field at all.

  99. Just say no to Wily Mo. The occasional home run is literally the only thing he does even remotely well. He’s probably in the bottom 10% in every other measurable baseball talent.

    Edit: Horner kept getting hurt, then compounded his problems by refusing to stay in shape. Attempting his ML comeback at Busch Stadium in the ’80s didn’t help, either. He was largely a Launching Pad phenomenon in the first place, but people weren’t paying as much attention to things like home/road splits in those days.

  100. Thanks Mac, I’d forgotten that he played in Japan. On that note I’d like to recommend a book about American players in Japan called “You Gotta Have Wa” by Robert Whiting. Interesting read.

  101. @119

    I’m with Smitty. I’d take him in AAA and hope he put it together, but for right now I think he’s too flawed a a player to compensate for the power

  102. Hey Alex,

    I will probably go to one of those Braves games in April. If you are smart, you will skip the one I go to because they usually lose when I see them in DC. :) (Although I did see the game last year where Frenchy silenced his critics then by hitting two home runs–then hitting 9 the rest of the year.)

    Frankly, if the Braves can get Hanson in the rotation this year and he shows he can pitch in the big leagues and perhaps get Heyward a few at bats, it might be a good year even if the Braves don’t make the playoffs. I think the team is building to something good but it’s probably a year or two off. If they contend this year, I will be happy.

  103. Cowherd and Schlereth are openly discussing Cutler’s “lifestyle” issues but won’t name them. (And it’s not the diabetes.)

    What are they talking about and, though I like Cowherd, seems a little low to float that if you’re not willing to name it.

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