First, 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.
Moving 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.
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,
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.
If 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.
If 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.
The 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,
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,
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.
This week the National and American League Most Valuable Player Awards were released. The voters came through this year.
Albert Pujols won it for the National League while Dustin Pedroia won it for the American League. They both deserve it, hands down.
Albert Pujols is easily the best player in Major League Baseball right now. If you deny it then you are ignorant to his greatness. We are talking about someone who will go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time. This year he hit .357 while jacking 37 home runs. That is a ridiculous average while still being able to produce so many runs. He drove in 116 runs while scoring 100 on 187 hits. Guess how many strikeouts he had. 54. As opposed to 104 walks. With some simple mental math you can figure out that he walked almost 2 times for every strikeout. Albert Pujols is a pure hitter, not slugger, hitter. He can hit for contact and power at the same time while keeping up a tremendous average. Pujols deserves the MVP award hands down. A few years back I thought Andrew Jones should have won it, but I can’t complain. I would love to be able to say “I came in second in the MVP voting behind Albert Pujols.” Bow down, this guy is a freak.
I think I’ll also address everyone that says Ryan Howard should have won. Wrong, incorrect, negative, no. Ryan Howard is what I like to call a slugger.
Slugger\slug- ger, noun: someone who swings wildly at everything even remotely close to home plate and try’s to hit a home run everytime.
That is what Ryan Howard is. He try’s to hit a home run everytime he goes up and instead looks like a complete moron when someone throws a curve ball. I actually find his at bats quite humerus to be honest. Howard also has some comical defense at times.
Philly Phans can say that he lead them to the postseason and World Series and someone who wins the MVP should be in the postseason. Wrong again. Some of the greatest players ever played on terrible teams, why should that keep them from winning an award for individual excellence? It shouldn’t.
Dustin Pedroia on the other hand, did make it to the postseason. This kid is one heck of a talent. He plays the game with such a passion it is hard to not like him. He is one of the smallest guys in the game yet he makes his presence known to anyone and everyone near him. He is so small yet he hits the ball kinda like that Pujols guy I mentioned earlier. Dustin Pedroia is a damn good player.
Big game players come up big in big situations. Albert Pujols and Dustin Pedroia are two big game players that come up big in big situations. You have to look long and hard to find another pair of guys you would rather have come to the plate in a big situation. Congrats on the hardware.