Tagged: Ryan Ludwick

Filling the void

Nick SwisherWith all the acquisitions made this off season the Braves still have two voids to fill in the outfield. Jeff Francoeur seems to be entrenched in right field for at least the 2009 season which leaves two spots open. Atlanta has shown interest in both Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady, though Swisher appears to be the favorite.

Nady is the superior player both offensive and defensively but Swisher would come at a bigger discount. Nady also happens to be a Scott Boras client and will hit free agency after the 2009 season. Jason Heyward could be Nady’s replacement in the likely hood that he departs, but there is no guarantee that he will be ready in time.

Heyward is already a tremendous talent but Atlanta does not in anyway want to rush him. He has been invited to this year’s spring training but is not expected to make the roster.

Atlanta’s beat writer Mark Bowman has said that the Orlando Hudson idea died about a month ago. Atlanta let the idea go over defensive worries. I don’t really buy that idea as before last year he won consecutive Gold Glove awards. Hudson was also injured for part of last year so that may have effected his range factor, which has provided concerns for Atlanta. The signing of Hudson could have made Kelly Johnson expendable and led to a possible trade for Ryan Ludwick.

Gregor BlancoI would like a trade for Swisher if Atlanta didn’t need to include too much value. It would take less to land Swisher than Nady, but Swisher is also under contract for $22.5MM over the next 3 seasons. Swisher had a down year last year but did hit 24 home runs. Swisher is also a switch hitter which gives him a lot of value to the Braves.

If Atlanta can’t land Swisher it looks like Matt Diaz, Brandon Jones and Gregor Blanco could be battling for the spot in left field. Center field is also up for grabs with Blanco, Josh Anderson and Jordan Schafer all fighting for the spot.

When this is all said and done I think Atlanta can land Swisher and that Jordan Schafer will win the starting spot in center field. Schafer is just as good defensively as Anderson and Blanco but can provide more offense. Atlanta was in desperate need of offensive production from the outfield last year and Schafer is the most likely to provide it out of the three.

Till next time,

~Ben

Orlando to Atlanta?

Some recent headlines have mentioned that Orlando Hudson has drawn interest from the Atlanta Braves. Let’s break this idea down.

Orlando HudsonFirst, don’t the Braves already have a solid second baseman in Kelly Johnson? Yes they do, but Orlando Hudson could be an upgrade. Hudson is not that far removed from winning a Gold Glove and will also hit for a higher average. Johnson has the edge in power, but also racks up more strikeouts. Hudson missed time last year but his health issues should be finished if Atlanta is considering him.

Orlando Hudson would come at a significantly cheaper price tag than he first imagined at the beginning of free agency. Johnson would still be much cheaper but he has trade value that Atlanta could use in their attempt to acquire a power hitting left fielder such as Ryan Ludwick. The biggest advantage Hudson has is the batting average. As a second baseman he wouldn’t need to be relied upon for power numbers. Hudson had fewer strikeouts than Johnson, a higher OBP, and could have been better in home runs and walks had he played the entire season.

Ryan LudwickMoving Kelly Johnson to left field doesn’t seem like a great option. Johnson underwent Tommy John surgery and who knows how much is left in his arm. Second base isn’t exactly the best place to build up arm strength either.

The Cardinals have expressed interest in Kelly Johnson and packaging him with a minor league pitcher or two could land Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick would easily provide Atlanta’s outfield the much needed boost in offense that they have desperately been looking for. Pat Burrell could have been an option before he landed with Tampa Bay.

Ludwick strikes out more than what would be wanted but that comes with the territory of big power numbers. Ludwick would also come cheaply at less than $1MM next season. He is the big, right-handed bat Atlanta has been looking to sandwich in between Chipper Jones and Brian McCann. Jeff Francoeur can still be that player, but I don’t think the Braves want to take any chances and have him have another down season. Adding Ludwick could take pressure off of Francoeur and let him develop more out of the spotlight.

~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    

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

Bravos Stayin’ Idle

Not much movement around Atlanta these days. It’s a little disappointing to be honest. Atlanta has so much money but they have yet to make a move.

Jake PeavyIn all honesty I think they are still waiting on Peavy. It really does make sense. If Atlanta wasn’t waiting around to pull the trigger on Peavy why wouldn’t they deal Yunel Escobar or Kelly Johnson somewhere else? I have heard Ryan Ludwick could have been acquired some time ago. Why didn’t they do it yet?

Kelly Johnson has supposedly been asked about by several teams, why hasn’t he been moved? If Martin Prado is supposed to be a strong replacement there is no reason why Johnson shouldn’t have been traded by now.

The Braves have Rafael Furcal waiting in the wings for them. Therefore Escobar is expendable. Tons of teams would give up solid players in exchange for Escobar. Atlanta knows it will take Escobar to get Peavy, so they haven’t made any moves yet. I think it is extremely obvious that the Braves want Peavy bad, but don’t want to come out and say it. They will give up less by playing hard to get and having the Padres come crawling back.

The word on the net is that the Braves are in the final five teams for A.J. Burnett. Cool, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, Burnett is a solid player but five years is a long time for someone who has been injury prone. Should they do it? My answer is they kinda have to. Atlanta doesn’t really have any other choice. Without him or Peavy they won’t win next year. I say this because I don’t think Derek Lowe is an option. He wants to go back to Boston, its that simple.

A.J. BurnettBesides the usual Peavy and Burnett discussions there has been some Jermaine Dye talk recently. I think he is a decent fit. He hits for power but doesn’t sacrifice much in batting average. Last year Dye hit .292 with 34 home runs. The only thing I don’t like is his age. That is the downfall with the Magglio Ordonez idea that was thrown around earlier this off season. I think Dye has a little more power but isn’t the contact hitter that Ordonez is. If I had to chose right now I would pick Dye as I believe he is cheaper and has been a little more durable.

Jermaine DyeIf I had my way the Padres would cave in and trade Peavy to the Braves. Atlanta could turn around and sign Furcal and Burnett. Getting Dye should be on the back burner at this point because pitching wins championships. I also think Francoeur will bounce back. He wasn’t any happier about last season as we were and wants to get back on track. I have faith that he can step up.

A power hitting outfielder is nice but wouldn’t be as necessary if Francoeur can put the power numbers we all know he is capable of. I have also read about Ryan Ludwick. I’m not to fond of that idea since he kinda jumped out of nowhere. Remember Morgan Ensberg? He exploded a few years ago and imploded soon after. That could be the case with Ludwick. Or dare I say he was on the juice? I don’t really think so but his numbers are a little suspicious. His home run count jumped from 14 to 37 in one year. Oh well, we will have to keep waiting and wishing, hoping the Braves do something productive so we can all talk about it.

Till next time,

~Ben  

Peavy coming to Atlanta?

It looks like the Braves are getting closer and closer to trading for
Jake Peavy. They have made a strong offer that includes Yunel Escobar,
Charlie Morton and Jordan Schafer. San Diego still wants Tommy Hanson,
but that ain’t happening.

Yunel EscobarPeavy
still seems a little iffy about coming to Atlanta. He seems reluctant
because Atlanta would most likely have to give up Yunel Escobar in the
deal. Could Atlanta still compete with the Mets and Phillies without
Escobar? Well, I think so. Escobar has the potential to be a great
player, but so far it is just potential. If the Braves send Escobar to
San Diego, I think they are more than capable of trading for a
shortstop. J.J. Hardy I believe would be a great addition. He hit .283
with 24 home runs and 74 RBIs last year. He doesn’t steal bases but
neither did Escobar. I think it could in a way be an upgrade. So don’t
fret Braves fans. 

The next piece is Charlie Morton. I
actually think this is a big blow for Atlanta. Morton pitched hurt for
all but 2 starts last year. In his first start he went 6 innings and
gave up 3 runs. In his second he went 5 innings and gave up 3 runs.
Those aren’t bad for someone who had only been at AAA for a few games
and was prematurely throw in the fire that is the MLB. The rest of the
year he struggled in almost every game. Ok people, Charlie Morton is a
power pitcher. He was only throwing 92-93 because he had some form of
side or rib injury. Morton is supposed to be able to throw in the mid
90’s. He wasn’t able to work off of his power fastball which is not his
game. He struggled because he couldn’t pitch the way he was used to. If
he stays I predict him to one day be the number 3 pitcher in the
rotation, behind Jair Jurrjens and Tommy  Hanson.

Jordan SchaferThe
final piece of the deal could be Jordan Schafer. I have heard a lot of
talk along the lines of “get that cheater outta here, we don’t want
cheaters and neither does Bobby Cox.” Wrong, get your facts straight
before condemning someone for something they “may” have done. Schafer
was suspended for “suspicion.” There was no positive test. He was
suspected of use and then bam, 50 game suspension. And yes, players
have been suspended for suspicion. By the way, everyone seems to love
Tyler Flowers. He TESTED positive for HGH. Why doens’t anyone talk
about that. Learn the story before saying hateful things about players.
You will look like an idiot.

Schafer may not even be included
in the trade as the Padres interest in him is “lukewarm.” He could be
replaced with another center fielder Gorkys Hernandez. Hernandez has
more speed than Schafer but doesn’t have the possibility of being a five
tool player like Schafer does. Overall, I would take Schafer over
Hernandez. We will have to see what happens.

The rumor about
Kelly Johnson being traded for Ryan Ludwick isn’t looking so hot
anymore. Ludwick has been linked to the Rockies in a trade for Matt
Holliday. Sorry guys, if I could trade Ludwick for Holliday or Johnson,
I would take Holliday. That is just an easy decision. All of these
rumors I assume is taking a toll on Atlanta fans. The Braves have not
made a big free agent move since signing Maddux and this has become
very frustrating. Maybe getting Peavy would help motivate free agents
so sign.

Election Time and Trade Rumors

First off, I would like to congratulate Senator Obama
on his victory the other night. Whether you wanted him to win or not,
he is our president.
I simply wanted to give him the congrats he deserved, this will not
turn into a political flame fest. So don’t even think about it.

Barack Obama

Back to baseball. It looks like Greg Maddux is going to retire. All you
can really say is thank you. Thank you for the great years and a World
Series. Maddux was an amazing pitcher that deserves nothing but the
best.

Not only was he an amazing player, he was a wonderful
person. It seemed that the only players that disliked him were the
opposing batters. But honestly, how can you hate Maddux, he is Greg
freaking Maddux. 1st ballot Hall of Famer, no contest. He should be
inducted today just because he is that good.

I don’t think
Glavine is to far behind Maddux. He just can’t contribute the way he
used to. It is just reality. You cannot deny the obvious. Thank you for
the great years and WS. He is also a 1st ballot Hall of
Famer.
 
Maddux, Glavine, Smotlz
I almost hope that Smoltz hangs it up just so the trio can all be
inducted together. That would be simply amazing. One of the greatest
days in the history of baseball. If he doesn’t hang up his cleats I
would like to see him in the Atlanta bullpen.

There are a few more rumors going around the site. The biggest one is
still Jake Peavy. Everything is at a standstill for now. We will see
how it is going in about a week or so. I still believe if Peavy doesn’t
end up in Atlanta he will stay in San Diego.

A big trade that has just surfaced in the past few days is Kelly
Johnson for Ryan Ludwick. Eh, not really a bad trade. I’m not really
loving it though. Ludwick did hit 37 homers last year, but it almost
seems like a fluke. The problem with Ludwick is he strikes out a ton,
and yes, even more than Francoeur. You thought you were mad that
Frenchy went down 100+ times, wait till Ludwick shows up. It could be like having Andruw Jones back, but in left field. Oh no, we don’t
want that now do we. Also he won’t make the plays Druw did defensively.

Could Francoeur be traded? Well, yes. The Royals love him with a
passion. I don’t know why, but they do. Atlanta wants Zack Grienke in
return but the Royals apparently are smarter than we first expected.
Doesn’t look like they are going for it so I don’t see Francoeur moving
anytime soon. I think he still deserves another chance. After all he is
“the natural.” So I hear.

To cap off this entry, and just for giggles… Philly fans you know you laughed so don’t deny it.

Jimmy Rollins