Tagged: A.J. Burnett

Did Atlanta Salvage This Off season?

Did the Braves salvage this off season? To be honest, I don’t think they did. When you look back at what could have been you can picture an Atlanta Braves team with a dominating pitching staff and a powerful offense. Instead Atlanta has an above average pitching staff and a somewhat weak offense. What could have been?

Jake PeavyI think this all goes back to the Jake Peavy rumors. Both sides managed that whole deal horribly. Sure, Kevin Towers may have been asking a little much, but Frank Wren pulled out because of an extremely minor detail. The Padres wanted Jeff Locke to be included and Frank Wren didn’t want to add him. If you do your research you will see that Jeff Locke is a pitcher in A ball that can been called “wild.” The kid can hardly find the strike zone and you aren’t going to add him into a deal to bring in one of the best pitchers in baseball? I think that is a joke.

By not making that trade Wren is showing he is not willing to give talent to get talent. The best players aren’t going to come free. You have to give up quality to get quality in return. The Braves would have given up potential All-Star Yunel Escobar, but they could have turned around and signed Rafael Furcal or Orlando Cabrera to replace him.

A.J. Burnett

If Atlanta brings in Jake Peavy they could make a serious run at A.J. Burnett. Already having a star on the team makes a difference when trying to lure a big time free agent. Another problem was the contract offer. Atlanta basically came up a few million short of New York’s offer. Atlanta can’t put up a few more million to bring in a second ace? That is ridiculous. If you want the big time players you have to put up big time money. It really is that simple. With Peavy and Burnett at the front of the rotation they would be tough to beat in any series.

Javier VazquezInstead of having two All-Star aces at the front of the rotation the Braves have Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez. Atlanta ran themselves into a corner and ended up over paying for Derek Lowe. The Mets weren’t going any higher on their offer, the Braves flat out over payed. Vazquez is an innings eater but he is getting payed over $11MM. If a team is paying a pitcher over $10MM he better be an All-Star caliber pitcher. Vazquez is not that. Sorry, but it’s the truth.

Instead of trading for Javier Vazquez Atlanta could have traded for Jermaine Dye. He would have been the power bat they needed at a reasonable price. Dye is getting payed just under $10MM and he is going to give you 30-35 home runs and drive in over 100 runs. That is a bargain if you ask me. Frank Wren is not willing to spend money unless he has his back against the wall. After John Smoltz left he knew he needed to bring in Lowe, at any cost.

Smoltz deserved to be brought back just like Tom Glavine deserves to be brought back. I’m not saying that Wren is a bad GM because he is not. But any Braves fan that says Schuerholz would have done better is not looking into this deep enough. John Schuerholz has just as much influence on the Braves has Wren does, they are both to blame. Wren is not a bad GM, this whole off season was just mismanaged. You cannot be afraid to take risks. Peavy and Burnett are both risks, but their rewards are so great you have to take the chance. You have to in order to be successful.

Kelly JohnsonNow you have to take a look at the Rafael Furcal deal. Why were the Braves trying to bring him in anyway? The Padres deal for Peavy was dead and I doubt Furcal would have been happy playing second. Why trade Kelly Johnson anyway? He is a solid player that has made great strides after he used to play left field. I know, he played shortstop for a long time. But shortstop and second base are different positions. Get over it. Changing positions is not easy at all.

Then the Braves come out and say they won’t work with Furcal’s agency anymore. Peter Moylan happens to be represented by that agency and he is a very good player. Atlanta needs Moylan to come back and be solid in the bullpen for them to be successful. That deal also goes back to the Braves being cheap and not willing to outbid anyone. The times of home town discounts and taking less money to play for your favorite team are just about over. It comes down to money.

I don’t think the Braves salvaged this off season as they should be a lot better. They made strides in the right direction but only when they had their backs against the wall. They were reluctant to spend money and then over payed when they didn’t need to. It just goes to show you that taking risks and managing a team are underrated aspects of the game.

Sincerely,

~Ben 

Advertisements

Welcome To Atlanta

Welcome to Atlanta Derek Lowe. Welcome to a winning tradition and a great clubhouse. You will not be disappointed.

Derek LoweI am ecstatic that the Braves signed Derek Lowe. He was their last option to try and salvage a disastrous off season. Atlanta signed him to a 4-year deal worth $60MM. A little more than I would like but the Braves ran their way into a corner. Frank Wren couldn’t trade for Jake Peavy, couldn’t sign A.J. Burnett, and couldn’t sign Rafael Furcal.

When the off season looked like a complete failure Wren pulled some moves out of his bag and made the Braves contenders. He signed Kenshin Kawakami and Derek Lowe to bolster the staff. He signed Greg Norton and Omar Infante to come off the bench. And don’t forget about the trade for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.

Now Atlanta needs to try and add a power bat to put in between Chipper Jones and Brian McCann. I think that guy could be Xavier Nady. The Braves had interest at the break last year but the Pirates opted to trade him to the Yankees. The only problem is that Nady happens to be a Scott Boras client so come next off season when he is a free agent he is going to want him money.

Xavier NadyI’m actually not even worried about trading some prospects and potentially losing Nady in the off season. The Braves have Jason Heyward who is making great strides in the minors and could be major league ready for the 2010 season. The kid can flat out mash the ball and he has good speed to boot. He is also turning out to be an above average defender so I am definitely looking forward to seeing him in 2010.

Jeff FrancoeurI know the Braves want to land Nady, but maybe the solution to the power drought is already on the team. Remember that Jeff Francoeur guy? He had one down year and is still only 24 years old. Last time I checked he still had a good 2 or 3 years before he is even supposed to hit his prime. Give the kid some time.

Every Atlanta fan and most other fans know he has the potential to provide a ton of power, hit for average, play Gold Glove defense, and maybe steal 10-15 bases. If he can just stop the free swinging and be more disciplined I think things will turn around for him. You can’t swing at 9 out of 10 pitches and expect to see anything worth hitting.

If the Braves can add a bat or Francoeur can turn things around I would not write them off of winning the division. The Phillies may have won the World Series but that just means everyone is going to be gunning for them. And everyone already guns for the Mets just because, well, they play in New York.

NFL Picks

Philadelphia 24 Arizona 27

Baltimore 10 Pittsburgh 21

Sincerely,

~Ben

Braves Land Kawakami

Kenshin KawakamiFinally, Atlanta was able to add another pitcher, Kenshin Kawakami. He isn’t Derek Lowe, but he could end up being a solid 3 or 4 starter in the rotation. He was inked to a 3-year deal and should be in Atlanta for his physical on Monday. The official announcement could be made Monday or Tuesday.

I haven’t seen a value on the contract, but I hope it is reasonable. Everyone knows the Braves are desperate and may be willing to over pay. They may have to to land Derek Lowe, but it would be well worth it at this point. They need Lowe badly. Some how I have a feeling that his agent Scott Boras is well aware of the desperation and will use it to his full advantage. Boras will milk the Braves for every penny he can before having his client sign anything.

 Boras is great for the players, but bad for baseball. Just the name Scott Boras turns teams away from players because they know if they become a free agent they will most likely land in New York, Boston, Chicago, or Los Angeles.

After watching the video I’m impressed by Kawakami’s stuff. I’m not blown away, but impressed. I like that he doesn’t have a crazy windup as that kind of thing always annoyed me. He looks like he can change speeds well as well as work the corners. I’m really digging that big curve ball. Nowadays you see pitchers opt for the slider as it is easier to learn than that big, looping curve. Nice pick up for Atlanta. They just need a few more pieces to put it all together.

Now Atlanta needs to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Derek Lowe. I know it will take that much to lure him to Atlanta. He can easily opt for less money and go back to Boston or jump on the Yankee bandwagon along with Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett. After all, his agent is Scott Boras, anything can happen when that man is pulling the strings.

Sincerely,

~Ben

Whats Next?

What is next for the Atlanta Braves? That is the question of the day. They let a fan favorite in John Smoltz pack up and head to Boston. They lost out on Jake Peavy, A.J. Burnett and finally Rafael Furcal.

Kenshin KawakumiNow they are after Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami. Here is the scouting report for everyone. His fastball tops out in the low 90’s and he mixes in a slow curve with a cutter. I haven’t heard of any crazy sounding pitches like the gyro ball that Daisuke Matsuzaka has. He sounds like a normal pitcher to me. He doesn’t have the typical deceptive delivery that is normally seen from Japanese pitchers, this guy just relies on his natural stuff. That could be good, then again, it could be bad.

Heard of that Kei Igawa guy? That turned out great didn’t it? (Laughs to self)

Japanese players can be really good like Matsuzaka, or they can be a complete bust like Igawa. I’m hoping he isn’t the later if he signs with the Braves. Baltimore however is also interested so don’t get your hopes up Braves fans. The Orioles have already signed Koji Uehara who is also a Japanese pitcher. Playing with another Japanese player may sway Kawakami’s decision to the Orioles. The Braves are apparently really close, but it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

Derek LoweThe other pitcher Atlanta is going hard after is that Derek Lowe guy. I hear he isn’t bad either. That’s just what I heard though. Atlanta is apparently getting ready to propose an offer, but how do we know Lowe won’t turn around and use that as leverage for the Mets? (cough, cough Rafael Furcal, cough.)

Signing Lowe would be HUGE for the Braves. They would fill a need while stealing him away from those darn Metropolitans. They have made major changes, especially in the bullpen. They are already making me sweat with J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez in the 8th and 9th innings.

The Braves can also have that luxury in the bullpen with Mike Gonzalez, Peter Moylan, and Rafael Soriano. If that darn Soriano would just stop having mysterious injuries that won’t allow him to pitch but are invisible to MRI’s. He has been leaving the team doctors puzzled and the Braves’ fans pissed. Oh so convenient that right after you sign an extension you “get hurt.” Prove it bud and you can sit all you want. Ask Mike Hampton, he did it.
Confused doctor

This off season the Braves have been all talk and no action. They talk of great things, but get nothing. As a fan, I am hurt by this. It really hurts when your team does nothing to make the team better. Sure, they signed Javier Vazquez. That is nice and all but it isn’t what they really need. Now I know what the Nationals, Marlins, Blue Jays, Padres, and Twins feel like. Every year they sign a whole bunch of nothing and their fans have to watch that bunch of nothing try and compete in a league stocked with talent. That talent is just stacked in a handful of places, not everywhere like it should be.

Maybe Atlanta can pull some strings and pry Xavier Nady away from the Yankees for less than they want. Fill a team need and make the Yankees worse, sounds like a deal to me. I doubt the Braves will get him as I have heard New York wants some top of the line prospects for him. Every Braves fan already knows Frank Wren won’t dare trade a prospect that may or may not suck. We learned the hard way in the Jake Peavy deal.

By the way, congratulations to Florida on winning the BCS National championship game and being voted the #1 team this year. Utah deserved both of those and got neither but whatever. That’s sports politics for ya.

Have a nice day,

~Ben

Ridiculous

Ridiculous, that is what the Atlanta Braves are. This was an organization that prided itself on fielding a winning team year in and year out. It was an organization that treated it’s players with the utmost respect. That organization is long gone and I want it back.

John SmoltzThis off season has been a compete disaster from the word go. Jake Peavy slipped through Atlanta’s fingers, just as A.J. Burnett and Rafael Furcal would later do. Now John Smoltz, a guy who wanted to be a Brave for life has slipped through Atlanta’s fingers.

Smoltz basically begged the Braves to bring him back. Atlanta couldn’t even beat Boston‘s offer of $5MM guaranteed with incentives that could bring his contract up to $10MM. That is a load of bull if you ask me. The guy loved the Braves and the city of Atlanta. John Smoltz is one of a very select few that can be called a true Atlanta Brave.

Smoltz is one of the greatest to ever put on an Atlanta Braves’ uniform and I always imagined him going out with a complete game shutout in the World Series. I mean, he is arguably the greatest playoff pitcher ever. Instead he goes out as a free agent that was thrown aside by the team that he served so well over the years.

John Smoltz

He had a menacing stare and a mischievous smile that was hard to like. He was a jokster in the clubhouse, a saint in the community, and a warrior on the ball field. But he was tossed aside as if he was a 20 year old rookie who couldn’t quite cut it. I’m sick to my stomach from watching a first ballot Hall of Famer be handled this badly. Not just a first ballot Hall of Famer, but a great human being that deserved to be resigned as much as any player.

John SmoltzI had assumed through this whole thing that if there was anyway possible that Smoltz could take the field and be productive the Braves would resign him. Well I was dead wrong. I know that he is a big question mark. He is over 40 and is coming off of major shoulder surgery. But the key fact you are missing is that he is John freaking Smoltz. The man is a physical freak that can defy age and health like he is was a direct descendant of Hercules himself.

The Red Sox are obviously a storied franchise that doesn’t exactly take crazy risks and sign players just for the heck of it. Boston is trying to build a winning team and they felt that Smoltz could be part of that. Some how the Braves missed that and decided to offer him basically nothing or let him go. Shame, shame Atlanta, you guys are pathetic. Step your game up before the rest of the NL East completely tramples your crappy team.

Atlanta’s front office talked of great things this off season, I have seen nothing even close to great. They won’t trade prospects, they won’t pay the superstars, and now they won’t bring back a Hall of Famer that was loved by ever damn person in the city of Atlanta. It sounds to me like the Braves don’t want to win. Please Ted Turner, buy the team back becasue they are headed in a horrible direction. Personally, I don’t know if I want to be a part of it. This is coming from a guy who if you cut him open, he would bleed Atlanta’s colors year round. Year freakin’ round.

Over and out,

~Ben

I’m Ashamed To Be A Baseball Fan

I am ashamed to be a baseball fan. Freaking ashamed. Bud Selig needs to be fired right now for letting this madness go on. I don’t care who you are or what you think, this whole league is a joke. A freaking joke.

Mark TeixeiraThe reason so many people hate baseball is because so many teams suck. They suck because teams like the Yankees spend money like mad and sign all the best players every year. This year the Yankees have signed the top 3 free agents on the market, C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and now Mark Teixeira. This is in no way fair to the rest of the league. The Yankees also have the top 4 highest paid players in all of baseball now.

I am sick to my stomach right now, I am that angry. I have to sit and watch my favorite team sit and do nothing because they are out spent every single year. I sit and watch one team, just one, out spend the rest of the league while the commissioner sits and watches. I honestly think that Bud Selig is a Yankees fan. He has to be. He obviously doesn’t care that the rest of the league has to get New York’s scraps every year.

The NFL is full of really good teams every year. Every year the NFL has 8-10 teams in each conference fighting for a playoff spot. This is because there is a salary cap. It is really that simple. Teams have to draft smart and can’t just sign or trade for the best players because they can take on their giant contract. The best players are all over the league on different teams, not stacked on one team. You can find any team in the NFL and name at least one superstar. You can’t do that in baseball.

I am so mad right now I may give up on baseball all together. My dream was to be a baseball writer for ESPN one day. That is damn near gone. I don’t want to write about the Yankees signing every free agent every year. I don’t want to write about the Yankees winning the World Series every damn year. I loved baseball by far more than any other sport. I have defended baseball as a sport in arguments with soccer players for years now. I am just about finished. Baseball is a joke.

Screw baseball,

~Ben

Now What?

If by some strange reason you have yet to hear, A.J. Burnett signed with the New York Yankees .The deal is 5 years and worth $82.5MM.

That is fine and dandy for the Yankees, but what do the Braves do now?

At this point I think they need to go after Jon Garland and Ian Snell. The only problem in acquiring Snell is what the Pirates would ask in return. I have heard a lot of teams have walked away from them because of their steep asking prices.

Jon GarlandIf the Padres come crawling back with the Jake Peavy deal I think the Braves need to make it clear that Yunel Escobar is off the table. They did not earn him in the last negotiations. In the previous deal San Diego had asked for 2 major league ready pitchers and 1 major league ready center fielder. The Braves offered Yunel Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez, Blaine Boyer, Charlie Morton, and Jeff Locke. That is a potentially great shortstop, a major league ready center fielder, 2 major league ready pitchers and a future starter. More than they asked for and they said no. They don’t deserve Escobar this time around.

Pat BurrellIf the Padres do come back and accept the fact they won’t get Escobar I believe the Braves have no other choice but to get the deal done. They don’t have many other options at this point in time. Next is the left field situation. I have the solution…Pat Burrell. Before you snap, key point, 1 or 2 year deal. No long term situation. Continue to read and hear me out.

The Braves have a player named Jason Heyward. He is extremely good and is only 18. He is expected to hit the majors by 2010. If this is the case why find a long term fix now? You don’t. Atlanta can sign Pat Burrell to a 1 year deal with a team option for a second. This is in case Heyward slows in his development which is likely. Burrell is a right handed power bat which the Braves are searching for. He would slip into the 4 spot in the lineup between Chipper Jones and Brian McCann when a right handed pitcher is starting. When a lefty comes in he would slip back to the 5 spot and McCann would bat 4th.

Having a right handed bat play left field allows the Braves to stagger their lineup, as in right, left, right, left. This makes the other team think more about bringing in a specialist from the bullpen in a late game situation. This would be a great strength for the Braves. Burrell could also come at maybe $8MM or $10MM per year. This is a bargain for the statistics he is capable of putting up. Thank you bad economy.

Ryan LudwickThe reason I chose signing Pat  Burrell over trading for  Ryan Ludwick is the simple fact that Ludwick is unproven. He had one really good year. Burrell has had several. Burrell has shown he can produce year after year.

I still don’t love Burrell because he strikes out more than I would like, but hey, you have to make sacrifices. It would also be a short term contract so if he is horrible for one year the team can decline his option, making him a free agent. No more Burrell. This gives the Braves the bat they want and serves as a short term guy to hold left field before Jason Heyward can take over. Let me know what you guys think.

Over and out,

~Ben