Check out my preview of the Braves for the upcoming season. The Phillies and Mets are the favorites but look out. Atlanta won’t go down easy.
Everyone probably knows by now that the Atlanta Braves went out and got the guy they wanted, Derek Lowe. They have gone out and solidified their starting rotation, but now what? Atlanta is still not a playoff team.
If you look at their rotation you will notice one thing they all have in common. They are all right-handed. Every single one of them. Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Jair Jurrjens, and Kenshin Kawakami are all right-handed pitchers. There needs to be a little variety in the starting rotation. That’s why I think they need to bring back Tom Glavine. He may not be what he used to be but the fact that he is left-handed gives him an advantage over other pitchers vying for the 5th spot in the rotation.
I would think if Glavine returns he would be given the 3rd spot in the rotation just because of the fact he is left-handed. Being able to throw different styles of pitching at an opponent is an underrated part of the game. If the other team knows you only have right-handed pitchers it will make it a lot easier for them to game plan against you. Hence the idea of bringing back Glavine.
I also think that if Glavine is physically able to pitch and the Braves don’t resign him there is going to be an outcry from Atlanta faithful. Already this season the Braves let long time favorite John Smoltz go and now if they were to let Glavine go things could get ugly around Atlanta.
Another addition I think the Braves need to make is resigning Will Ohman. He isn’t Brian Fuentes but he is a very good left-handed reliever that played really well for the Braves last year. Atlanta’s bullpen also lacks a wide array of pitchers, seeing that they are overloaded with right-handed pitchers. The only lefty in the bullpen is closer Mike Gonzalez. Atlanta needs to have a lefty specialist that can come in to face the murder’s row of left-handed batters that the NL East is home to. They include Carlos Delgado, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard. Atlanta has to have someone that can come in and get key outs when those guys are batting.
I would really like Atlanta to add a bat like Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher but the Yankees appear to be asking too much. Nick Swisher isn’t what he used to be a few years ago and Nady is only under contract for 2009. His agent is Scott Boras so it is safe to assume he won’t be sticking around for anything less than $700MM over 8 years. If things continue the way they are it doesn’t look like the Braves will be able to add another bat. If Jeff Francoeur can produce I don’t think adding a bat would even be needed.
In other baseball news it looks like Jason Varitek could be returning to the Red Sox. He wants to come back and I think Boston knows the fans want him back. They call him “Captain” for a reason. He is the heart and soul of that team, they need to bring Tek back. This should be an easy decision.
In more MLB news where is Manny Ramirez going to end up? The Angels don’t want him and the Dodgers don’t want to give him more than three years. Will the Giants take another risk on a super star becoming a huge bust (Barry Zito)?
Everyone knows the guy can hit but if he doesn’t get his money he will not be a happy Manny. And we all know an unhappy Manny can be a cancer to his baseball team. Boston found out the hard way.
I just wanted to say happy holidays to everyone and I hope you all have an amazing weekend. I hope everything you wished for is under your tree and you have a great time with your family. We all know some people got everything they wanted and more, cough, cough Yankees, cough. Just remember that the holidays are about spending time with your family and loving life, not presents. Presents are great and all, but family is better.
What do I want for the holidays you ask? The Braves to not suck next season. They may not land any big names like Derek Lowe or Pat Burrell and Adam Dunn, but I think they can get some mid level guys that will contribute to the team.
I think signing Will Ohman would be a great piece to have come back. He isn’t Brian Fuentes but he is going to come a lot cheaper if they sign him before Fuentes lands somewhere else. Ohman was great last year as a lefty out of the bullpen and I think the Braves need to bring him back.
Ohman will be a solid piece to help anchor down the bullpen which I believe is the strength of the team. Mike Gonzalez is an excellent closer and Rafael Soriano is another closer caliber pitcher that will set up Gonzalez.
Peter Moylan is a great right handed pitcher that I think will come back from elbow surgery and dominate again. The Braves will have 3 players that could close on a lot of teams and that is their strength. Blaine Boyer is also a solid reliever but was just overworked to the point where his game suffered greatly. I think this boils back down to the weak starting pitching last year.
The starting pitching issue I think can be somewhat solved with Jon Garland. I know, I know, he isn’t a great pitcher with a sub 3 ERA. What he does do is eat innings and keep the team in the game. That is what the Braves need. Garland and Javier Vazquez will night in and night out go and throw 6 or 7 solid innings so when the bullpen does need to be used they are fresh and on top of their game.
The Braves have some young talent like Charlie Morton and Tommy Hanson. They are going to stumble in games and need the bullpen to bail them out. That bullpen will be fresh after they get a few days off after Vazquez and Garland pitch. Morton pitched hurt most of the season which caused a lot of his bad numbers. Hanson has been dominant but we cannot count on him to do the same at the major league level. If we do we are setting ourselves up for disaster, again.
I honestly don’t think the Braves will win the World Series next year. I don’t think they will make the playoffs. I hope they do, more than anything. But unless Atlanta lands a few more players and plays out of their minds it doesn’t look good. The Cubs, Mets, Phillies, and Dodgers are all going to be really good. So that means the Braves have to be better. Hopefully they can at least make it competitive.
Be safe and happy holidays,
Hot Stove talk from around the MLB.
A.J. Burnett – Burnett has been offered a deal from the Atlanta Braves. It is supposed to be worth about $15MM per year. Frank Wren says it doesn’t include a guaranteed 5th year but would most likely have an option for one. Wren will push Burnett to sign before C.C. Sabathia. If Sabathia doesn’t land with the Yankees they will most certainly turn to Burnett.
Jack Wilson – Wilson has been involved in trade talks with several teams. The newest is the Los Angeles Dodgers. L.A. is looking for a replacement for Rafael Furcal who will be leaving via free agency. The Detroit Tigers have also been involved with their search for a replacement for Edgar Renteria. I see the Dodgers making the trade as they can eat some of Wilson’s contract. They may not like it but they are more likely at this point.
Derek Lowe – Lowe has drawn interest from a handful of teams. One team could possibly be the World Champion Phillies. The Yankees and Red Sox are also expected to make offers to Lowe. The Red Sox I believe are the favorites at this point as both sides have mutual interest and Lowe has a desire to return to Boston.
Khalil Greene – Earlier today Greene was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Greene was traded in the Padres‘ attempt to dump salary. The departure of Greene could increase the chances that Jake Peavy can stay. Greene is coming off a very disappointing season in which he hit just above .200 with 10 home runs and 35 RBI.
Jake Peavy – The Chicago Cubs are apparently still in talks with the Padres for a deal involving Jake Peavy. The Cubs have tried to bring in a third team that would supply them with the prospects required to land Peavy. Almost all of the reports have come out of San Diego and not Chicago. This means that Padres GM Kevin Towers could in fact be exaggerating the progress of the trade. From a prospect standpoint the Braves put the best deal on the table but pulled out of the running. This could be Towers’ attempt to lure the Braves back.
Adam Dunn – Dunn was not offered arbitration which makes him a free agent. Dunn has not drawn much interest outside of the Washington Nationals. The Nationals can put out a competitive offer but it is unlikely Dunn would accept. The deal would most likely be in the $15MM per year range. The Nationals would be bringing in a big piece that wouldn’t be surrounded by much so it doesn’t make much sense on Dunn’s part. The Nationals have also asked about Zack Greinke from the Royals but don’t have the prospects to land him.