Blog Entry

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

Posted on: November 23, 2008 11:13 pm
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On September 18, 2006, the Atlanta Braves officially ended their unprecedented run of winning fourteen straight divisional titles. Since that year, the Braves have faltered and have been pushed to the brink of the dreaded "rebuilding" phase.

John Schuerholz tried to secure another World Series Ring before he moved up the proverbial ladder to become president of the organization in 2007 and traded away promising prospects Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, and Beau Jones for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay. In 2008, the Braves needed to receive compensation for losing these players when a winning season was all but lost. The new GM on the block, Frank Wren, traded Teixeira away to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek.

Last season, there was a certain feel about the Braves team assembled that brought back nostalgia as well as the prospects of winning big. However, after injuries systematically put down Mike Hampton, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and even Tim Hudson, there was great reason to be concerned about the future of the starting rotation. The shrewd trade for Jair Jurrjens added an ace-in-the-waiting, but what was there behind Jurrjens? Charlie Morton and Jo-Jo Reyes provided youth and inconsistency to the rotation. Journeymen like Jorge Campillo started out effective and then faded away near the end of the season.

Not only are there legitimate problems finding legitimate frontline starters, but there is a need for a power hitting outfielder as well. Jeff Francoeur struggled mightily this past season. Both center field and right field were power drains. Once Tex left, Brian McCann and Chipper Jones were the only major power threats in that lineup.

Simply put, the Braves need at least two starting pitchers and a power threat in the lineup -- and they have more than $40 million to play with.

The Braves have been rumored to be interested in a great number of pitchers including (but not limited to) Jake Peavy, A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe, Randy Wolf, and possibly others by trade. Getting two of these pitchers would be a great success to this offseason. However, as the current prices for those like CC Sabathia and Burnett have skyrocketed, obtaining only one of the listed pitchers may be possible.

So who should the Braves sign?

The Braves should sign both of their starting pitchers here. Trading for Jake Peavy may happen, but what happens if the Braves do not agree to terms with the Padres? They cannot wait forever for Kevin Towers to make a decision. They must move forward and make the splash on the free agent market.

The Braves should sign A.J. Burnett. He has been an injury liability (as well as Ben Sheets), but there seems to be an improvement in innings recorded. Signing a lesser name like Oliver Perez or Jon Garland would also help to add stability to the rotation. If John Smoltz and/or Tom Glavine prove to be healthy enough (and effective enough) to return to pitching, then the Braves should sign them too. Mike Hampton is also a possibility, as he did well at the end of the season last year. Signing these people would make a rotation of Burnett, Perez/Garland, Jurrjens, as well as the other former Braves mentioned -- with Tim Hudson possibly returning from his Tommy John surgery in August or later.

While signing their two pitchers in free agency, the Braves still need to find a left-field power bat. They should do this via trade. Trading for an outfielder like Ryan Ludwick would add tremendous power potential to the lineup as well as solid average, run production, and on-base percentage. Ludwick has had one great year, but the potential is all there to repeat. Giving up a middle infielder in the likes of Kelly Johnson or Yunel Escobar would certainly help in the short-term before outfielder Jason Heyward arrives in the MLB. If Escobar is traded, a shortstop should be signed in free agency (Rafael Furcal, preferably). If Johnson is traded, Martin Prado would be more than a capable replacement.

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Category: MLB
Comments

Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: December 5, 2008 4:37 am
 

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

Those are all good thoughts.   I didn't think perez was looking for that kind of money.  I'm not sure i would be comfortable offering 10 million a year to a guy like that either.   Although even at 10 million he could prove to be a bargain for someone.   Obviously now with the acquisition of vasquez they aren't looking at that 2nd tier starter anymore.  

I don't really agree about holliday though.  i know what you are saying i just don't believe in the ideology.  How many players look like future hall of famers in the minor leagues?   How many actually pan out?  I don't think you pass on a mvp caliber player because you have some minor league players that could be ready within a couple years.   I don't know what the demands for him would have been.  obviously if they were looking for kelly johnson ,tommy hansen ,hernandez and more then you forget about it.   If they could have gotten him for a reasonable price i don't think you pass on a player like that.   The white sox aren't going to give dye away so you are likely giving up good prospects for that short-term fix.  i'd rather give up a few more for a possible long term fix like holliday could be.   If you are giving up alot for him then i would need a contract extension in place.  without that i wouldn't.  Maybe that is what happened.   those are just my thoughts.  

I look at the braves now and i just don't see the future of this team.   They got old and haven't really replaced the pieces.   Frenchy ,escobar ,johnson ,mccann for a nucleus but they don't have that stud player to build around.   None of those players are really making any money and chipper is in the twilight of his career.   smoltz and glavine are basically done.  hampton is gone.   the only players making any real money are chipper ,vasquez and hudson.  I'm not really talking about giving away the future like the yankees did for so many years but i wouldn't mind them going after a stud hitter to lead the rest of the guys they have.   The braves don't have one 30 hr guy going into this season.  I just think they need to do better then trading for a stop gag on the hope that some of the minor league players pan out. 




Since: Jun 15, 2007
Posted on: November 29, 2008 8:28 pm
 

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

why are the braves looking for a lefthanded power hitter?   McCann ,Jones ,Johnson ,and kotchman are all lefthanded

That was misunderstood from previous posters. The Braves are interested in a right-handed outfield bat OR a lefty that would possibly platoon with Matt Diaz. This is why Ludwick was illustrated so much in the original post and Jermaine Dye was talked about in the subsequently following comments.

Why wouldn't the braves be interested in signing a guy like oliver perez?  what are his salary demands?   He is still young and has proven in the past that he has ace potential.   He is inconsistant but i would much rather see the braves go after him then a washed up guy like odalis perez. 

I have not seen any reports that the Braves are interested in Odalis Perez. Oliver Perez is an interesting case, though. Scott Boras is looking at a longer-term contract for him. At least from what I've heard and seen, Boras is looking upwards from 4 years and $40 million. The problem with paying him this money is what you outlined -- inconsistency. The Mets were hesitant to sign him to that kind of deal, like most MLB clubs at this point. He will get signed by someone desperate, and he would not be a bad addition at all. In the Braves standpoint, he would be the second-tier starter they would be looking for.

Why didn't the braves make a  bigger run at matt holliday?   He would fill the need for a power hitter and an outfielder.   Are they that concerned that he won't produce outside colorado?  He is a free agent after this year but if he still hits well why couldn't they offer him the 15-20 million to sign him long term?

Matt Holliday was an interesting case also. The Braves were not overly impressed with his numbers outside of Coors Field, but that doesn't mean that he wouldn't put up substantial numbers in any case. He still would be a potential 30 HR guy outside of Coors Field anyway. With that being said, the Rockies asked too much in terms of prospects from Atlanta. Holliday would be considered as another rental, and after the Mark Teixeira dealings, they strayed away from this part of the trade market.

So, then, why not trade for him and then sign him long term? First of all, Scott Boras represents him. Holliday would undoubtedly still opt for free agency to find any deal that would be better than the one from the Braves. Secondly, the Braves are not in a position to sign an outfielder for a long term contract. Players like Jason Heyward and Gorkys Hernandez are quickly coming up through the minor leagues. Hernandez is a center fielder but could move to left field and Heyward is a natural left fielder. Signing someone would block the paths of these prospects to the top.

The Braves are looking for a short-term fix. That is primarily why you see names like Ryan Ludwick and Jermaine Dye floating around the trade market. Both of these guys have shorter contracts and great power potential, which buys enough time until the big stars of the minor leagues come to Atlanta.




Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: November 29, 2008 6:07 pm
 

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

why are the braves looking for a lefthanded power hitter?   McCann ,Jones ,Johnson ,and kotchman are all lefthanded.   The only right handed hitters with any power are escobar who will hit like 15 hrs and frenchy but there have to be concerns about him after last season.   

 Why wouldn't the braves be interested in signing a guy like oliver perez?  what are his salary demands?   He is still young and has proven in the past that he has ace potential.   He is inconsistant but i would much rather see the braves go after him then a washed up guy like odalis perez. 

Actually one other thought.  Why didn't the braves make a  bigger run at matt holliday?   He would fill the need for a power hitter and an outfielder.   Are they that concerned that he won't produce outside colorado?  He is a free agent after this year but if he still hits well why couldn't they offer him the 15-20 million to sign him long term?  They dumped andruw's 15 million a year contract.   Hampton at 20 million and traded away tex and his 12 or so million the past couple years not to mention glavine's 8 and so on.  why couldn't they keep holliday at 15-20 million?   Sign a guy like burnett at say 16 million and then get a 2nd tier starter like oliver perez or perhalps resign hampton or whoever at much lower salary.  




Since: Sep 6, 2008
Posted on: November 29, 2008 4:33 pm
 

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

We need to go back to what won us all those titles in the 90's. Pitching.

Pat Burrell would be a nice addition.




Since: Jun 15, 2007
Posted on: November 29, 2008 11:51 am
 

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

Jermaine Dye would be a great addition. He consistently puts up numbers, and he is signed maybe a little under market value. I think if there were any trade with the White Sox, Dye and Javier Vazquez would be included. Vazquez isn't the ideal acquisition, but he is a decent pitcher that can fit into a #3 spot. For those two players, I would imagine KJ, Reyes, and a lesser prospect would definitely be a good deal for both sides.

Alright, to answer your questions:

1. The Braves three definite elite prospects: Jason Heyward (OF), Thomas Hanson (SP), and Jordan Schafer (OF). They have many more great prospects that may become elite following this season, but many of them can qualify for the final two spots for "top five" status. I'm sure there are official websites that will give you a list. I, however, will give you who I think will fill the last two spots -- Freedie Freeman (1B) and Tyler Flowers (C).

Hanson and Schafer can make the team out of Spring Training. Schafer probably has a better chance of doing this, but if Hanson pitches like he did in the AFL, I think it would be crazy for the organization to send him down to AAA to begin the year. It is quite obvious why the Braves would not include Hanson in a trade for Peavy. Heyward is considered the top prospect in the organization, but he is probably two years away from making it to the majors. Flowers and Freeman both played in low ball and will move on up the organizational ladder this year. I think Flowers would take at least two years, while Freeman would take maybe three. If Flowers stays in the organization, he will most likely be converted to another position because of Brian McCann as the starting catcher. If not, he is excellent trade bait. He has tremendous power (as does Freeman).

2. I think Smoltz will be back, but I'm on the fence with Glavine. I think that he will sign another one-year deal and try to pitch better as a "farewell" season. The awful season last year with injuries is probably not how he wants to end his career. So, I do see him back also.

Without any FA signings and trades at all, the rotation looks like Jair Jurrjens, Jorge Campillo, Charlie Morton, Jo-Jo Reyes, and probably either Thomas Hanson or Todd Redmond. That is an incredibly awful rotation for the present time. All of these pitchers have potential to be great, but based upon past numbers, Jurrjens is the only pitcher that has been a proven winner. Tim Hudson will return at least in August, but he may end up missing the full season. That's why signing free agents and trading for some starting pitchers would work.

If Smoltz comes back, there is uncertainty regarding whether he would come back as a starter or a reliever. Some believe he will be a reliever because of the short amounts of work, but I believe it is the opposite. Since his shoulder is the problem, having him pitch one day as a starter and resting him for four days would let his shoulder heal more and feel better than coming in a few times a week out of the bullpen. So, if Smoltz and Glavine both return, I see both as starting pitchers.

My wish list would really be Peavy / Burnett / Jurrjens / Smoltz / Glavine at this point. I would love to see Hanson in the majors though and, if he is not traded, I would love to give Charlie Morton some more time to develop confidence as a MLB pitcher. Since Peavy may not happen, and I have talked about Vazquez, then it looks like Burnett / Vazquez / Jurrjens / Smoltz / Glavine. But, there are many question marks surrounding who the Braves will get. I'm thinking that once the Winter Meetings end, we will have a much better idea of which direction the Braves will go in.




Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: November 28, 2008 11:32 pm
 

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

Alright, I understand where you are coming from with the Ludwick deal. I was mistaken; I thought you said they needed a left-handed bat. If they need a right handed bat and they can move KJ, what do you think about getting Jermaine Dye? You get less power than Ludwick and Dunn, but you get a higher average hitter who gets the job done in the field (with a A+ arm). He's proven to get .300 ave and 30 hrs. You may have to give away a lot (KJ, Jo-Jo Reyes and maybe another prospect), but I believe he'd fit.

Two more questions:

1. Who are the Braves' top five prospects (and how much time do they need before they are ready for the majors)?

2. Do you think Glavine and Smoltz will be back? If so, what do you think the rotation is going to look like next year (excluding FA signings and trades)  




Since: Jun 15, 2007
Posted on: November 28, 2008 3:18 pm
 

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

Can you explain the reasoning behind trading Johnson or Escobar for Ludwick rather than signing a free agent? I just dont understand. The question sounds like I'm attacking you but I'm not trying to, just want to try to understand that logic.

Sure, no problem. The Braves have approximately $40MM to spend this offseason. They have vowed to get two starting pitchers and an outfielder. Going through free agency, it may not be possible to sign all of them because of significantly increased market value. Trading for at least one spot is definitely reasonable.

Many people on the Braves message boards have varying reactions to an Adam Dunn acquisition. Some believe he will add that power dimension to that lineup. Others believe that he will be more of a defensive liability and his batting left-handed would not help out in the lineup dominated already by left-handed hitters in Johnson, Kotchman, and McCann (not to mention Blanco, Anderson, or Schafer in center field).

There was actually discussion if I remember correctly from the GM meetings that said that Wren was looking to add a minor league pitching prospect in the deal along with Ludwick based upon the reason of his one good year to date. I'm not sure if that will go over well or not. Watching the Braves day in and day out, they need that power source in the outfield -- preferably in the form of a right-handed power bat.

For Ludwick, I don't think they would trade Escobar. The only way Escobar gets traded is if they go after Jake Peavy again. Johnson, though, is a different story. KJ would be easily expendable for someone like Ludwick because of the play of Martin Prado. Prado had been the batting champ for two consecutive seasons in Richmond before playing a full season in a utility role in Atlanta. He would be a capable replacement, therefore making KJ expendable.

To be concise and answer your question, I think the Braves feel like these two players are receiving a good deal of attention in the trade market. KJ will reach his first year of arbitration this year and Escobar is not too far away. Having team control for a few more seasons is definitely an asset, and the Braves are smart to play to those cards. They traditionally do not sign free agents like Adam Dunn (or even Burnett, Lowe, et. al.) -- they rely acquiring their talent via trade and their minor league system. There really isn't much of a replacement for Escobar if he gets traded, so I believe that KJ would be more likely to go because of Prado waiting in the wings.

Your one-two punch philosophy is true, but remember that Tim Hudson would be ready by playoff time (if he recovers by then) and Jair Jurrjens would have had another year under his belt to prepare for a playoff atmosphere. Just a Burnett signing would look remarkable in my opinion in October, but I agree, I would like to have Peavy along with Burnett.

I hope that answered your question. If you have any more, feel free to ask.




Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: November 28, 2008 1:54 pm
 

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

But Ludwick at the price of K. Johnson or Y. Escobar? If they have the money, why not go out and spent 10 mil over 3 or 4 years for Adam Dunn? He is pretty cheap so why not take a chance? He strikes out a lot, but he can sure as hell knock 40 homers 100 RBI in every year. Put him around some one like Chipper Jones and maybe he wont strike out as much.  

If down the road Gorky Hernandez and Jason Heyward prove to be something special, why not trade them for good pitching? There are always great pitchers on the trading block, this year Peavy and last year Santana.

I think where our strategies are different for rebuilding a team lies in the source of where the teams get their players. Sure the Rays have had a lot of success with trading their young players, but they have swapped them for other teams' young players not for players in (and going out of) their prime. I don't think players like Javier Vazquez or Derek Lowe will help.

If they do go after pitchers like Burnett, they have to get Peavy. You cant win the world series without a good one-two punch in the front of your starting rotation (for example:

Phillies- Hamels and Moyer

Red Sox - Beckett and Schilling

Cardinals - Carpenter and Mulder

White Sox - Buehrle and Garland

Red Sox - Martinez and Schilling

Marlins - Beckett and Penny

Angels - Lackey and Washburn

Diamondbacks - Johnson and Schilling

Yankees - Clemens and Pettitte)

 

Can you explain the reasoning behind trading Johnson or Escobar for Ludwick rather than signing a free agent? I just dont understand. The question sounds like I'm attacking you but I'm not trying to, just want to try to understand that logic.




Since: Nov 28, 2008
Posted on: November 28, 2008 10:14 am
 

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

braves giving too much for peavy, especially escobar. forget power bat in outfield, kotchman 2 homeruns at first base not acceptable, need different first baseman. we can not get burned again by hampton, too much time and money spent on him. smoltz and glavine fine if really healthy.eventually chipper moves to first to save knee, so maybe now and new third baseman



Since: Jun 15, 2007
Posted on: November 28, 2008 10:12 am
 

Fix This Team: Atlanta Braves

The Braves aren't looking for a long term solution in the outfield. Signing someone like Burrell or Dunn would require longer contracts. The Braves have great outfield prospects in Gorkys Hernandez and Jason Heyward that will be ready in the next two years or so. That's why I chose Ryan Ludwick for this.

Raul Ibanez may work also, but he is a left-handed bat. There have been quotes from Frank Wren that makes it seem like they will keep Matt Diaz around this next season. Signing Ibanez in a semi-platoon role may be an option, but I'm thinking more of an everyday left fielder. I also left out the Jermaine Dye option, and I'm beginning to think that is a good route to go -- he is affordable and will put up numbers every year.

Out of the FA outfielders you listed, the only ones I think the Braves would have any interest in would be Abreu or Ibanez. I'm thinking though that they will fill that need via trade.

In regards to the pitching rotation, I do not see Greg Maddux playing in Atlanta for another year (or any other team for that matter). I believe that he will retire. From the Braves standpoint, they do not want to sign another aging pitcher in the short-term. Last season, they signed Glavine in what they believed would be a 200-inning and durable pitcher but ended up with constant injuries. They are looking for younger, quality pitching. A.J. Burnett has been linked to injuries before, but most teams are confident that he can mostly stay healthy now (according to several reports).

Just to throw another name out there, but Javier Vazquez may be an interesting piece to acquire. He would have to complement a higher signee like Burnett or Derek Lowe (or a trade for Jake Peavy), but I think he could be had at an affordable price. He puts up innings and strikeouts regularly and might do well in Atlanta.



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