Tagged: Rafael Furcal

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 

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

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

Now What?…Again

Well, the Braves lost the bidding for Rafael Furcal on questionable acts by his agent. I’m not going to turn that whole debacle into a huge thing. It is what it is.

Rafael FurcalThat move could have opened things up for the Braves. Furcal could have played second base and Kelly Johnson could have been used as a trade piece. The Cardinals are apparently interested in Johnson, but I don’t really see the Braves moving him. I heard rumors about Johnson and a pitcher going to St. Louis for Ryan Ludwick, but that deal is dead. Rick Ankiel is a possibility, but he is left handed so I doubt the Braves would pull the trigger.

I was really looking forward to having Furcal back. He provided the speed at the top of the lineup that the Braves have lacked since he left. He was a great guy in the clubhouse but obviously things weren’t going to work out. I blame a lot of that whole signing on Furcal himself, if he wanted to come back to the Braves he would have. I think he is just greedy at this point. He passed up going somewhere he could have been really happy for a bigger contract.

A minor signing I would like to point out is that of Greg Norton. He may not be a super star but he is a switch-hitting pinch hitter that can knock in runs when they are needed. He can play the corner outfield positions and first base. He was a clutch hitter for the Braves after they signed him. I was hoping they would bring him back and they did. Next I want Atlanta to bring back Will Ohman. It may take more than they wanted but we all know the Braves have been saving up as they have done almost nothing this off season. Ohman is a top notch lefty that will come a lot cheaper than Brian Fuentes.

Jason Heyward

I still think the Braves should take a shot at Pat Burrell. I was not high on him at the beginning of the off season but the Braves have cornered themselves into this position. Burrell could be a short term solution before Jason Heyward is ready for Atlanta. Burrell is a right handed, power bat that Atlanta has been looking for. I like Jermaine Dye better, but I would think the Braves would have traded for him at the same time as Javier Vazquez. It just makes sense.

Jordan SchaferIf Atlanta went into the season today, I would be hoping for 3rd place in the division, at best. They don’t have a power-hitting outfielder. They don’t have an ace. They don’t have an established lead off hitter. The outfielder may not be needed if Jeff Francoeur can bounce back, while Jair Jurrjens is no ace. He has the potential to be one, but he isn’t one now. Josh Anderson has the potential to be a legitimate lead off hitter, but I want to see him do it over the course of an entire season. I would almost rather take my chances with Jordan Schafer, who can be a 5-tool player. Gorkys Hernandez also has the potential to be a 5-tool player, but I think Schafer has a little more power.

I actually like Atlanta’s bullpen. Mike Gonzalez is great at the end while Peter Moylan is an excellent set up man. I would like Rafael Soriano to be the set up man, but he has yet to prove he can stay healthy. I had thoughts that he may be faking his injuries since the trainers couldn’t find anything wrong. Every time he said he was healthy, bam, he is hurt again. I was actually beyond frustrated with him. Blaine Boyer is not as bad as people think, he just was overworked.

If things stay the way they are I think the Braves can compete, but not win anything big. I’m not going to sit here and tell myself the Braves are a lot better than they are. I’m not going to sit here and tell all of you the Braves are better than they are. Right now they are mediocre at best. If they stay pat, 85 wins is a good season.

Over and out,

~Ben    

AHH! That’s Hot!

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.

Edgar Renteria Renteria has signed a 2-year contract with the San Francisco Giants. I don’t really understand this trade as the Giants are old and Renteria is old. Not a good choice in my opinion.

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 DunnDunn 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.

Later,

~Ben 

MVP and the Heisman Trophy

Ben RoethlisbergerI have pretty much given up all hope for Ben Roethlisberger
winning the NFL MVP. He started out great, then just tailed off after
that Philadelphia game. It isn’t really all his fault as it is pretty
hard to throw from your back. He has been sacked 33 times already this
year. That is unacceptable.

The offensive line as not played
the way they should and they all know it. There is all the talk about
them having to “gel” together but I’m not buying it. It comes down to
the fact that they are getting beat by the D-line every Sunday for most
of the game. The offensive line should be the first need addressed in
the upcoming NFL draft.

Speaking of the NFL draft. Looks
like we may have quite the group of quarterbacks. You have 3 Heisman
candidates in the Big 12 alone. Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, and Sam Bradford
are all good picks. But who will win? My pick at this point is Sam
Bradford. Check out his stats, they are ridiculous. McCoy does have a
big advantage in the completion percentage but I will address that
next.

Heisman TrophyEveryone
goes crazy about McCoy’s amazing completion percentage. It is great and
all but he is only throwing 5-10 yard passes. He dumps the ball off
over the middle and his receivers run. Every once in a while he takes a
shot down field but not often. If Bradford and Harrell took those short
passes they would be just as good if not better.

Graham
Harrell is by far the best “passer” of the three. While McCoy is the
best runner and Bradford has the best combination of both. So this year
Bradford is going to walk away with the hardware.

So, has anyone been watching that whole Big 12 Championship debacle? Oklahoma got the bid to go in and smash Missouri in the championship. I am by no means a Texas
fan, but they got screwed. Oklahoma got the bid despite Texas beating
them straight up on a neutral site. Doesn’t make any sense to me. Sure,
Oklahoma smashed Texas Tech
but lost to Texas which is what really counts. I also think it is
hilarious that Mike Leach thinks the bid should go to the school with
the highest graduation rate in the conference (Texas Tech is 1, with
Texas at 11 and Oklahoma at 12). Nice try Mike, but it ain’t happening.

I suppose I could get back to baseball. It is so hard sense not
much has been happening. I know the winter meetings are coming up but
there is just so much excitement around football. I’m still waiting
around for Kevin Towers to come crawling back with Jake Peavy. I still believe that Yunel Escobar, Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, Blaine Boyer, and Jeff Locke is more than enough. It fills every need the Padres have and it is just pure greed on Towers’ part.

Escobar, Morton, and Hernandez were all hand picked by the Padres.
Escobar is a young superstar in the making that has tremendous talent.
Boyer is a major league ready reliever who just had to much on his
plate last year. He is also pretty young. Locke is a young pitcher who
has great potential. The Padres are getting the best of the deal here
so I don’t know why they haven’t done anything. To be honest it is just
plain stupidity on their part.

Will A.J. Burnett sign with the Braves?
If they trade for Peavy then yes. If they don’t then it seems unlikely.
Adding Peavy would give Burnett added motivation to come to Atlanta. He
wouldn’t even have to be the ace if he didn’t want to. A Peavy,
Burnett, Jurrjens, then later Hudson rotation would be dominant. Maybe
the best in baseball.

Yunel EscobarIf the Braves trade Escobar then I see them turning around and instantly signing Rafael Furcal.
He wants to come back to Atlanta so welcome him with open arms. It
would also give them a lead off hitter with speed that the Braves have
lacked since Furcal left. It just makes sense. If the Braves don’t sign
Burnett and trade for Peavy I see them going hard for Jermaine Dye and Javier Vazquez. Dye would provide the power bat in the outfield while Vazquez would be a veteran, middle of the rotation pitcher.

If all else fails I would think Atlanta would turn to signing Jon Garland or Ben Sheets.
Garland would just plain eat innings while Sheets could end up being an
ace type pitcher. Garland doesn’t have great stats but he eats up
innings and keeps his team in the game. Ben Sheets can be lights out or
he can be on the bench with an injury. Sheets can either be a big game
pitcher or a monster bust. I’m afraid to find out.

Over and out,

~Ben