That 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.
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.
If 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,
Well, it looks like the Braves are going to go after one of three players to serve as their power hitting outfielder. They appear to be Rick Ankiel of the St. Louis Cardinals, Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers, or Jeremy Hermida of the Florida Marlins.
Personally I like Ankiel or Hermida. To be honest I just don’t like Corey Hart. I don’t know why, but I just don’t. With Ankiel you get a ton of power with an outstanding glove in the outfield. Ankiel may not hit 35 o 40 home runs but he will drive in runs consistently while playing Gold Glove defense. The guy is a human highlight reel. If you are a frequent watcher of “Web Gems” you have seen him gunning down runners from all areas of the field. His arm is just flat out a cannon.
It would be like having two Francoeurs on defense. Which is in no way a bad thing. Jeremy Hermida is a Georgia native who wouldn’t mind playing for the home town team. Hermida was at once compared to Francoeur but doesn’t pack as much punch at the plate. So I don’t think he would be a great choice unless Ankiel wasn’t able to be acquired. I still don’t know why I don’t like Corey Hart, but to be honest I don’t need a reason. I just don’t like him.
Here is a little taste of Mr. Ankiel…
He would only be under contract for one year and he happens to be a Scott Boras client. If you like keeping players around for a long time you don’t want Scott Boras anywhere near your player. But then again, Andruw Jones is a Scott Boras client and he stayed around for a while, maybe Ankiel would too. You just never know.
The only problem with Ankiel besides his choice of representation is he is left handed. Jeremy Hermida is also left handed. This is why I actually think Corey Hart has the advantage at this point. The Braves have left handed bats already. They are looking for a right handed bat to fill the power gap, hence the Jermaine Dye rumors. The Brewers could also try to dump his salary to try and sign C.C. Sabathia.
This being said, the Brewers may take a few decent prospects and maybe some cash in exchange for Hart. Hart also has 3 more arbitration years so Atlanta can keep him around for a while. It may take a little more to get Hart than Ankiel since Ankiel will be a free agent after the 2009 season, but I think it would be worth it. Like I have been saying, the Braves are stacked in the farm system. They can afford to give up a few guys.
Holding tons of guys that most likely won’t even pan out isn’t necessarily the smartest thing to do. To be realistic, I bet 3 out of Atlanta’s top 10 prospects end up being busts. It is just so hard to have a successful career in the MLB. Look at Kyle Davies, Chuck James, Jo-Jo Reyes, Brent Lillibridge, and Scott Thorman. They were all top prospects at once and now look what happened. They are either on another team or are having extreme struggles. You can dump a few prospects to win now. It is ok.
Till next time,