Well its been a while since i have had a post on her but directly after the world series nothing was really happening so i just got bored away… But now Frank Wren has gotten to work by making our bullpen much better.
First he went out and signed veteran closer Billy Wagner and a day later got another vet in Takashi Saito. Wagner will be the closer and Saito will be pitching in the eighth inning. I like the back of our bullpen this year even better than last year with Gonzalez and Soriano. I would much rather have an old guy with a lot of experience putting away a crucial game than a younger pitcher with less confidence and composure (most of the time).
Wagner was injured most of last year but when he came back he was excellent and he will most likely continue that in 2010. He also seems like a good guy and a positive locker room influence.
Saito brings another Japanese pitcher to the Braves organization and he has also been a great closer in the past.
Rafeal Soriano surprised everyone by accepting arbitration but as Frank Wren said, it didn’t cause much of a problem. Wren made a trade with the Rays almost immediately to get rid of his 7 million dollar salary and pick up Jesse Chavez who, from what I have read, seems to be just an average middle relief pitcher. He is only 25 (?) so he could turn out to be a decent relief pitcher but he is only involved because Wren wanted to get something in return.
I thought that Soriano might bring us something a little more but with a small market team with the Rays they wouldn’t want to give up a ‘good’ player and take on that much salary.
With the bullpen taken care of for now Wren will probably try to trade Derek Lowe (to again drop some money) and then use the money to pursue a free agent bat. He also might try to trade Kelly Johnson and there should be some teams interested in him so we might get a little something back.
Recently there have been rumors of both the Las Angeles Angels and the Milwaukee Brewers showing interest in acquiring pitching from the Braves. Both of these teams might have pieces to help Atlanta this off season but the Angels can obviously offer a package that would better suit the Braves.
Two areas that Frank Wren is looking to upgrade the offense in is at first base and either of the corner outfielders. The Angels have two people that can fill these needs in Juan Rivera (OF) and Kendry Morales (1B). Kendry is obviously much better offensively (.306 AVG, 34 HR, 108 RBIs) but that would also make him harder to get. Juan Rivera is not as good offensively (.287 AVG, 25 HR, 88 RBIs) but he should be much easier to aquire.
The Angels are reportedly interested in Lowe if they are not able to re-sign their former ace, John Lackey. Hopefully it wouldn’t take much more than Derek Lowe to get Juan Rivera in Atlanta and i definitely think that is worth it. Rivera might not be a super slugger but he brings more homers than almost every player on the Braves team and is a fairly consistent hitter.
Morales would definitely provide a much bigger offensive boost but would giving up Javier Vazquez really be worth it? Especially with Freddie Freeman on the horizon…
The better option would be to trade Derek Lowe for Juan Rivera and either sign Adam Laroche two a short term deal, or give up Freeman and others and get Adrian Gonzalez.
As for the Brewers they are more interested in Javier Vazquez and really don’t have any trade pieces that would help us enough to let go of our ace pitcher.
*There were also rumors about the Braves and Dodgers talking trades but that rumor has been stated not true by Mark Bowman.
Well Frank Wren has started this off-season off very well by re-signing Tim Hudson to a three year deal, and signing him for less money; granted Tim Hudson deserves the credit for taking a pay cut but either way we have another top of the line starter and when is that a bad thing? He has also got a quick start on revamping the bullpen by signing Scott Proctor to a minor league contract. Proctor could end up being a good mid relief guy but even if he doesn’t come through we are paying him so little it wouldn’t matter too much.
So now Frank Wren faces his biggest and most important challenge of this off-season: landing a big bat in either the outfield, or at first base. He might not have as many options as he would like, but he does have a few and here are the best options that he has.
1. In My opinion, the best move that the Braves could make would be to trade for Adrian Gonzalez. He is exactly the type of player that we could use. He hit 40 homeruns last year in Petco Park. Yeah that’s one of the most ‘pitcher friendly’ parks in the big leagues if you didn’t know, so the numbers are bound to go up if he is playing in almost any other park. He is also cheap for the talent that he has, and is under contract for two more seasons. The Padres reason for trading him is because they need as much money as they can get and he will bring in the greatest return while creating a more flexible budget.
The Braves could match up very well as trade partners for San Diego because of all the young talent that we have in our farm. I think we could put together a deal that involves Freddie Freeman, Jo Jo Reyes, and a few other young guys (not with the last names of Jurrjens, Hanson, or Heyward) and be able to bring Adrian to Atlanta. He seems to be a pretty good guy and if we can become contenders he might be willing to sign long term with us after his contract is up.
I don’t care what anybody says but today, prospects are immensly overrated. So many things can happen to a player before they reach their ‘potential’ and most of the highly regarded prospects don’t. I would much rather have Adrian Gonzalez than Freeman, Reyes, and… Kris Medlen for instance because Gonzalez is a legitimate MLB player. He has proven that over the years and is actually getting better and better. Who knows what could happen to any of the young prospects in our system. They could all turn out as duds just like the Jeff Francouer ended up being, and people thought he would be the face of our franchise a few years ago.
So the best option is definitely going after Adrian even if it means giving up some good prospects.
2. Matt Kemp would also be a good option and the Braves and Dodgers could be very good trade partners. One of the Dodgers main weaknesses this past season has been their pitching. The Braves have pitching that they are looking to deal and the Dodgers have an outfielder that can hit some homeruns and drive in runs. The Dodgers also have four legitimate outfielders in Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Kemp, and Juan Pierre. Pierre proved early last season that he could be a starter on any team, and the team actually did better with him in the lineup. I still don’t know why he didn’t play that much.
Kemp had 26 homeruns and 101 RBIs and that could definitely help out the power-starved braves team. He also had a .297 batting average so he isn’t exactly one of those swing and miss type batters like Adam Dunn. The Dodgers have Manny, Ethier, and Russel Martin to put some spark in their lineup so they could score runs without Kemp.
The Dodgers have two great young pitchers in Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw but they do not have a veteran presance in their starting rotation which is an important thing to have on any team who is going to the playoffs. The Braves have three (tradeable) pitchers that have lots of MLB experience, one of which was a very successful pitcher for them in the past:Derek Lowe.
Derek Lowe’s salary is also pretty high and LA might want to put alot of money into an obviously better pitcher like John Lackey. I don’t think the Dodgers have a chance in getting Lackey but you never know. So if they lose out on the Lackey bidding war then they will have very few options to get a starting pitcher. If Atlanta eats some of Lowe’s contract then LA might make this trade happen but this is definitely a best case scenario. They might want Javier Vazquez who is a legitimate ace but i really really do not want to give him up.
3. The third option is Jason Bay. He is not first because it would take a lot of money and their are a LOT of other teams that are looking to buy his services. He is the best outfielder in the free agent class this year (not counting Matt Holiday but we won’t talk about him because of his wonderful manager).
I think that Bay would also help to bring people out to the ball park and the Braves could use some mor fans out a Turner. I would be excited to get Bay because he brings power but i definitely would not expect it to happen.
Any other good options?
Lately a bunch of people have been wondering what the Braves should do with the second-base position. Should we keep Martin Prado as the starter or give Kelly Johnson another chance? This is proabably the easiest decision Frank Wren has over the offseason.
Martin Prado is the starting second-baseman because he has earned it. If Kelly is not hitting at all and Martin is the hottest hitter on the team than who are you going to put out there? Martin Prado’s career batting average is .307. The defense that they play is relatively the same so you can’t defend KJ for saying he is better defensively. Prado is one of the reasons Atlanta stayed in the Wild Card race for so long. The Phillies have Jimmy Rollins to start their rallies and this season Martin Prado has been our Jimmy Rollins. He hits great in the clutch and he gets extra base hits.
Kelly Johnson could be earning around 3 million next season while Prado is hauling in a ******** 500K (somwhere around there). The Braves need to find a power bat and Frank Wren would like to do this through Free Agency, and since we are the Atlanta Braves and not the New York Yankees we need to get rid of as much money as possible to do so. We do not need to be paying a bench player 3 million dollars.
One of the biggest reasons to get rid of KJ is because, surprisingly, he still has trade value. Many teams do not have a legit starting second baseman and they would probably make a trade for Kelly considering his potential. Why not package KJ with who knows who else and get a relief pitcher who can help shore up* our bullpen.
We do not need Kelly Johnson so why not get something for him while we still can?
*I honestly have no idea how people began talking about ‘shoring up a bullpen’ but it sounds pretty cool and intelligent so why not? Actually the only time i have ever heard ‘shoring up’ is when someone is talking abot the bullpen so… why not?
If you look at the Atlanta Braves players you will immediately notice that most of them are very young. This isn’t the Florida Marlins ‘young’ though. This ‘young’ is a bunch of players who are good right now and will develope into great (better than good) players in a few years. With Briann McCann, Yunel Escobar, Martin Prado, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrgens, Kris Medlen, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Jordan Schafer, Nate McLouth, etc. I don’t think any major league club would be un happy with players like that,and before you say, ‘well all good teams have veteran presence’, Chipper Jones, Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, and Javier Vazquez are all veterans in my book.
The 2010 season is looking pretty good for the Braves right now and even brighter after that. Look for the Braves to take back the NL East next season. We have the best rotation in the Major League (not just NL but both divisions) and all we need is a big bat to lock it all up. I am tired of people talking about the Phillies and I am looking forward to next year when we can shut all those fair weather fans up.