The Braves have recently made a flurry of moves to make their team a contender. Now they are at a crossroad and need to make a decision. Atlanta has about $6MM-$7MM left to spend this off season. Atlanta has been rumored to be in a potential trade for Yankee outfielder Nick Swisher. Swisher will make $5.3MM this year which would leave almost nothing left in the bank for Atlanta. That would be fine if Atlanta wasn’t also trying to sign fan favorite Tom Glavine. If you crunch the numbers you will quickly realize it would appear Atlanta can only afford one. But which one?
Nick Swisher would almost certainly bring much needed power to what is a light hitting outfield. Jeff Francoeur was the only outfielder last year who had any glimpses of power but managed to only hit 11 home runs on the year. Swisher hit 24 last year in fewer games than Francoeur. Both had very low batting averages but many are attributing that to the occasional “down year” that the normal human being is known to have. Swisher is also a switch hitter and would be able to be placed in the cleanup spot in the lineup in between Chipper Jones and Brian McCann.
If Swisher produces the same power numbers and boosts his average his salary would be considered a major bargain. Unfortunately in this situation it may not be a big enough bargain. Swisher has a reasonable salary and is also under contract for 3 years. He can also play all outfield positions as well as first base. In any case I believe Swisher to be well worth the money. But what about Tom Glavine?
Glavine is coming back from surgery and appears to be doing well in his rehab. Glavine doesn’t expect to be blown out of the water but does expect to be offered something fair. He deserves nothing less. Glavine is no where near what he used to be but does not deserve to be tossed aside like John Smoltz was earlier this year.
Atlanta needs to bring Glavine back for themselves, for Glavine, and for the fans. I think if Glavine is not re-signed there could be an ugly backlash from Atlanta faithful. They already saw one fan favorite leave for another team and I don’t think they are in the mood to watch it again. Everyone knows that if the fans are against you then it is hard to win. Every game turns into a road game and that is going to lead to a very long season for a team trying to return to greatness.
Not only is Glavine a fan favorite but he is left-handed. Glavine would fit nicely in the 3rd spot in the rotation with four right-handed pitchers. An all right-handed rotation doesn’t exactly scream variety. Glavine has value just because of the fact he is left-handed. Either way, Atlanta needs to bring him back. Even if Glavine doesn’t produce the way he is expected to he would be a great mind to have in the clubhouse.
With 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.
I 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,
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.
Is Andruw Jones really done? I think he is damn close if anything.
I am one of those Braves fans that even when Andruw would strike out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th would stick up for him and mention how he makes a diving catch to save a run about every 4.3 games. Andruw was great in all but his last year with the Braves.
His spectacular defense would always make up for any mistake he made at the plate. And then that final year came. He continued to be a strikeout machine while his power numbers dwindled and his range in the outfield narrowed to the range of Johnny Damon’s arm.
His defense is not anywhere close to what it used to be and that is destroying his career. Well, his weight is destroying his career. What it really comes down to is that he gained 10 pounds and can barely get to the balls in the gaps anymore. Now when he strikes out no one can use the excuse “well, he will make a diving catch.” Cause he won’t make that diving catch. It really is a shame.
I have never seen a player physically implode the way Andruw has and it is in a way depressing. Now the Dodgers are trying desperately to get rid of him and bring in Manny Ramirez. You know you are doing bad when a team is trying to get rid of you to bring in the human wrecking ball. If Manny is happy the team is happy. If Manny is angry he will destroy everything around him. But let’s not forget that L.A. would be receiving the oh so graceful Ramirez to patrol left field.
There have been some rumors about the Braves being a possible fit for Andruw Jones. Before I say anything more about it I will let The Office say it for me. We will let the office be the clubhouse, Toby be Andruw Jones, Jim be Bobby Cox, and(insert any other Braves player) be Michael.
He looked like he finally turned the corner and was going to become a legitimate mega star. He let me and the Braves franchise down and I think he let himself down.
I hope the Braves don’t sign him because he will only take up space on the bench and not produce. He won’t be a great defensive player and he won’t be a clutch pinch hitter. All he will be is a waste of money. It hurts to say it but I think he needs to hang up the cleats and leave on the highest note possible. See ya Druw, good luck. I hope he can have the best life possible but I doubt it will involve baseball. Maybe he can come back and be a coach or manager. I hope everything works out for him.
I am ashamed to be a baseball fan. Freaking ashamed. Bud Selig needs to be fired right now for letting this madness go on. I don’t care who you are or what you think, this whole league is a joke. A freaking joke.
The reason so many people hate baseball is because so many teams suck. They suck because teams like the Yankees spend money like mad and sign all the best players every year. This year the Yankees have signed the top 3 free agents on the market, C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and now Mark Teixeira. This is in no way fair to the rest of the league. The Yankees also have the top 4 highest paid players in all of baseball now.
I am sick to my stomach right now, I am that angry. I have to sit and watch my favorite team sit and do nothing because they are out spent every single year. I sit and watch one team, just one, out spend the rest of the league while the commissioner sits and watches. I honestly think that Bud Selig is a Yankees fan. He has to be. He obviously doesn’t care that the rest of the league has to get New York’s scraps every year.
The NFL is full of really good teams every year. Every year the NFL has 8-10 teams in each conference fighting for a playoff spot. This is because there is a salary cap. It is really that simple. Teams have to draft smart and can’t just sign or trade for the best players because they can take on their giant contract. The best players are all over the league on different teams, not stacked on one team. You can find any team in the NFL and name at least one superstar. You can’t do that in baseball.
I am so mad right now I may give up on baseball all together. My dream was to be a baseball writer for ESPN one day. That is damn near gone. I don’t want to write about the Yankees signing every free agent every year. I don’t want to write about the Yankees winning the World Series every damn year. I loved baseball by far more than any other sport. I have defended baseball as a sport in arguments with soccer players for years now. I am just about finished. Baseball is a joke.
Mark Teixeira ~ Boston is out of the running, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Washington are still in the hunt. I see the Angels coming out on top for Teixeira. Baltimore and Washington aren’t anywhere near winning anytime soon. I think he would take a little less money and play for a good team.
Cincinnati ~ are interested in Jerry Hairston Jr., Rocco Baldelli, and Willy Tavares. I like Baldelli best out of the group. He has the most upside of the three. Especially since his health issues are treatable.
Mets ~ looking to acquire 2 of Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez, or Randy Wolf. Order is by preference.
Lowe is obviously the best pitcher of the 3. Perez has the most left in the tank, Wolf has the least value.
Randy Johnson ~ has received several offers. The Dodgers are expected to place an offer while the Cubs were rumored to be interested if they didn’t land Jake Peavy. I think he lands with the Dodgers or stays with Arizona.
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,