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?
I 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.
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.
Instead 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.
Now 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.
Hampton could have been a solid back of the rotation pitcher for the Braves. Houston signed him for 2 million. I think that is a darn good bargain for someone who could possibly win you 10 or 12 games. He can also earn another 2 million in incentives which I find to be fair.
I really don’t see why the Braves didn’t act faster. Even if Atlanta signs A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe, Hampton could be the 5th starter or even pitch in long relief. That doesn’t sound too bad to me. This is just one more incident where Wren did not act fast enough.
Atlanta had interest in Ryan Dempster before he re-signed with the Cubs. I really doubted that Dempster would sign anywhere else besides Chicago but I don’t even think Wren offered him a contract of any sort. The least he could of done is try.
Wren also missed out on Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa was offered a contract but obviously it wasn’t enough. If the Braves want to compete this year Wren needs to show me the money. Or, well, the players the money. Whatever. Wren needs to step his game up before all the free agents pass him by and the Braves are left with nothing.
The Braves need to make a move on Peavy. The Cubs have apparently found a third team to help snag him. Lou Piniella said they don’t need him but that doesn’t mean they won’t get him anyway. Wren, stop playing hard to get and just give in to it. Playing hard to get seems cool but it will get the Braves smashed by the rest of the National League next year.
Next, sign Rafael Furcal. He wants to come back to the Braves and Atlanta would need to replace the recently traded Escobar. This would also give the Braves speed at the top of the lineup while keeping the defense at shortstop. Anyone else remember how Furcal is a switch hitter? Yea, he is good stuff.
Next up, trade for Jermaine Dye. Atlanta has more than a surplus of pitching prospects. The White Sox apparently are looking for pitching, well the Braves have it. As long as the Braves have Tommy Hanson in the end, Atlanta will be fine.
Finally, sign A.J. Burnett. Give him either his 5 years or if he will accept, 4 with a player option. Atlanta would have added Jake Peavy, Rafael Furcal and Jermaine Dye. That creates an ace at the top so Burnett could be the 2nd guy. It also creates a stronger lineup to give him run support. Chipper Jones is a big fan so it would all fit. Don’t worry about him getting hurt, it won’t be worse than Mike Hampton so you will get over it.
Atlanta would have a great lineup while still having their top three prospects. I haven’t done the math but I’m pretty sure Atlanta has more than enough money. If they have some cash left over, use it to give Jurrjens a long term contract. Keep that kid locked up as long as possible.
Just imagine a Jake Peavy, A.J. Burnett, Jair Jurrjens rotation. Oh yea, the Braves get Tim Hudson back later in the season for an added boost. Furcal was always a great guy in the clubhouse and Jermaine Dye would provide that power outfielder the Braves have been looking for. If Wren does this and it falls through I will take all the blame. I really just want this to be done.
Stop messing around Wren, this is ridiculous.