A bad day

1. The Braves declined to offer arbitration to J.D. Drew. I honestly don’t understand this. He would have gotten a raise but it couldn’t possibly have been as much as he’d get in the open market. The Braves are spooked by Boras. They also declined to offer to Alfonseca and Ortiz, who are also gone.

2. Jaret Wright signed with the Yankees. I don’t really get the Yankees, who also signed Tony Flipping Womack, but it hurts the Braves, obviously. Right now, it looks like the Braves’ rotation for next season will be Smoltz-Thomson-Hampton-Ramirez-probably Byrd. Ugh. The Braves will get two draft picks for Wright (one from the Yankees and one sandwich pick) but considering their record with first round picks I’m not too optimistic, especially since it will be at the end of the first round.

3. It sure looks like the Braves are, in fact, going to cut payroll again. They’re not saying this, but it’s the only explanation for not offering Drew. It goes against what they’d said before, but Giles and Furcal won’t make that much more than last year.

20 thoughts on “A bad day”

  1. I don’t think they are actually cutting payroll explicitly but by holding the payroll to $82 mm, they are in effect cutting payroll because of the additional money they will have to pay to Giles and Furcal. I don’t think this is any big surprise. They are stuck with some bad contracts, ie, Andruw and Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, and Mike Hampton (beginning next year). No one wants to trade Andruw, but it’s obvious they can’t afford both Andruw and Drew. I’m surprised they didn’t offer him arbitration because it’s very unlikely he’d take it, but they simply can’t take a chance. People better get used to the idea that this is not a big payroll team anymore. Unfortunately, the payroll is still structured as if it is. I’m sure JS will make some moves and it is a mediocre division, but the Braves, it seems to me, are transitioning to younger, less expensive players. But, these big contracts are albatrosses around their necks and they are not all that productive either.

  2. I was a bit surprised declined arbitration on JD, but I can think of a few reasons why.

    First, they think he will accept and win after his career year. I doubt the injury problems of the past will have much influence on the arbitration panel, especially if JD can demonstrate the cause of the problem and the fact that it has healed. If this is the case, JS thinks he can replace JD’s output more cheaply through a combination of platoons and upgraded pitching.

  3. I too am surprised that the Braves didn’t offer Drew arbitration. But then again not surprised. The way the process works sucks for the team. Please correct me if I’m wrong but is this how it works? Boras can ask for 14 million, the Braves can offer 8 and the arbitor can decide that Drew ‘loses’ and give him 12. Or is it the arbitor gives Drew the lessor of the 2 numbers? Either way its a big gamble for the Braves if JD accepts. He is worth 8 except for the fact that he could easily become JD I only play 100 games a season Drew instead of the guy we had last year.
    Everyone assumes that we’ll use the Thomas/Marrero combo in LF again but really can we get that lucky again to have them produce at that level when ‘career year, statistical outlier’ are screaming in my head? Yall, we just might get to see Andy Marte do his Miguel Cabrerra impersonation next season and see if Ryan Langerhans can really play.

  4. Again, the numbers that came up here shortly after the division series were:
    1. $20 mil freed up with loss of free agents
    2. $5 mil to go toward arb cases
    3. $15 mil to go toward signings

    Now at one point in the AJC an “official” with the Braves said we’d have about 4.5 mil to spend for free agents. Where’d the $10 mil go? Smoltz will make another 2-3 mil if he starts, but still…

  5. I find it interesting that no one has talked about Ortiz not being offered arbitration. I know he blew up in the second half, but he has won a lot of games. I guess that if he got a large salary increase he would be too risky with all the walks he gives away. And he wasn’t too helpful in the playoffs this year. But I still kind of liked him, and definitely more than Byrd and Hampton.

  6. Okay, maybe I should have read today’s AJC where they are predicting 8 mil for free agents. Still a little off it seems, but at least it’s in the ballpark.

  7. Ortiz would certainly make a boatload of money in arbitration, far more than he would have gotten in the open market. (Unlike Wright, who probably would have gotten less than he got from the Yankees.) Ortiz’ agent would only have had to show what comparable pitchers (in past performance and current seniority) like Bartolo Colon or Kristin Benson got in free agency. And Ortiz is probably a better pitcher than either of those guys. Colon made $11 million last season, and Kristin will make what, $8 million this year. Split the difference, and your budget is shot for a slightly above-average pitcher.

    The Andruw/Marcus thing is a silly Internet rumor, that’s all. One guy on Usenet has heard Marcus joke about it, but it seemed to be purely a joke.

  8. If I hear another Marcus for Tim “1 year rental” Hudson trade rumor, I’m going to vomit in my mouth.

  9. The good news is Hudson is going to want an extension immediately. The bad news is, that will cost more than the Braves can afford. Other than that, I frankly don’t see those rumors as being so far-fetched.

  10. Thanks Bell Curve, now I really know why the Braves didn’t offer arbitration to Drew. If the Braves under value him by say offering 6.5 the arbitor will pick Boras’ number because he’s worth more than 6.5. The Braves lose. If they over compensate and say offer him 9 to 10 and Drew ‘loses’ arbitration then they are still losers.

    8 million ain’t alot to play around with in the Free Agent market especially since it seems like the old days of marginal or players with one good year getting crap loads of money have returned. Man the Yankees are just plain nuts! 21 mil for Wright? I wonder how much they are going to give ‘thanks for the run support Milton’? Schuerholz had better have the magic mojo going really good this year if the Braves are going to compete next season.

  11. That we would not resign Hudson would be my problem with the whole thing. And it is obvious that we won’t. When was the last time we signed someone to a serious extension? Smoltz? I thought the Drew deal was good, because I thought we were going to make a serious attempt to resign him before the end of the season. Now he becomes a year-long rental for the price of our top pitching prospect. If we continue to empty young talent for short term solutions, we’re going to be in big trouble. Sure, the meaningless division titles are nice, but I want the whole enchilada.

  12. I would not mind having Hudson. He is a very good pitcher and could be made better in the Braves’ org. I would also like to see the Braves continue to play with the big boys, but using the Twins, A’s and Marlins as examples and adding a much better manager in Bobby Cox, it can be done with young talent with veterans sprinkeld in. Look at botht the Twins and A’s. They have been competitive with their teams and managers that aren’t as good as Bobby. Minnesota still won their division after losing their top two relievers. Yes, they went nowhere in the playoffs, but neither did the Braves.

    I just hope they give up Furcal for Hudson instead of Giles. Giles is a very good player when he’s not having a collision with someone. How many players play all out like he does? Very few. Heck, most don’t have to since theyare on steroids.

  13. Hudson is a good pitcher but is he worth an all star second baseman. I hope the answer is no. Furcal is a non starter since the A’s already have a good ss in Crosby who is cheap.

    The Drew non tender is one of those once burned never again things. I mean who do you have to dump if JD got 12.5 in arbitration? The Maddux thing will be affecting decisions the Braves make on FAs for a long time.

    I think that I know who has the pictures or at least some pictures. Just read that Henry Blanco signed for 2.7 mil over 2 years with the Cubs. Jeez.

    How about Nomar Garciaparra? A little Hubris pie. Turned down a 60 million dollar 4 year contract with the Sox last off season. At least he’ll have Mia around full time after tonight.

  14. I just can’t imagine that Drew would have accepted arb. He’s been so often injured that he and Boras would be the world’s biggest fools to take a stab at a one year deal to leverage more next year. He’s not going to get a Beltran deal, but he will get phone calls from those who want Beltran and ultimately don’t get him.

    Trading marcus is not an option – when the offense takes the hit it just took by losing Drew (probably to be replaced by jermaine Dye), they can’t also give up a 2B who can hit.

    As for Ortiz, he’s had two straight years of second-half dropoffs, and two straight years of putrid postseason implosions. His walks drive control-crazy Leo and Bobby crazy, no doubt.

  15. Good comment Colin, about Dye. I remember several people mentioning (and I also think there’s something to it) about Schuerholz liking to get players back who people may say he ‘let get away’, like Byrd. I’m not saying it drives everything, but wouldn’t surprise me to see Dye end up in ATL.
    And hold on to your hat for some kind of blockbuster deal, though – not that I’ve heard anything, but he definitely has not been afraid to make trades, whether with established vets (Justice/Grissom/Lofton), little-experience guys (Klesko/Boone/Veras/Sanders/Joyner) or minor leagers (Wainwright/Drew/Marero). Of course there’s others, and they didn’t necessarily work out how he expected them to, but they’ve kept winning through it all. I’d love to see a McGriff type trade – I just don’t know that there’s anyone out there like that and ATL has obviously changed gears where they are not going after the biggest name free agent each year or trading for the top dollar guy available.
    Man, my imagination gets going, though, wishing the Braves would be involved when one of these superstars wants out of their city – I see (again, imagination only) Pedro, Randy Johnson, A-Rod (not now, but last year when the rumors were going, I thought ‘why couldn’t he go to Atlanta’).
    Oh well…

  16. I, too, am a bit surprised about the decision not to offer Drew arbitration. I figure the Braves go into arbitration with $9 million on the table (more than a 100% raise) and cannot lose at that figure. Boras would have been hard pressed to even ask for $12 million.

    The four big contracts we have are surely a flock of albatross around the team’s neck. No flexibility anywhere, so I can understand JS’ reluctance to sink another $6 million into one guy. The big question is, “Who do we get for less than $6 million to fill this slot?”

    Dye just signed at $4.5 per year for 2 years, so maybe that will be the going rate for similar players, principally Hidalgo. Jacque Jones will be non-tendered by the Twins and should fall into the same range. I know the stat crowd loathes Jones (and he is terribly impatient at the plate), but living in Minnesota and getting to watch him regularly, I can vouch that he has some ability. One of those guys for whom the ball just leaves the bat with a sweet sound (when, of course, he manages to make contact). The problem is he is a left-fielder and I don’t know where he fits in the Braves’ batting order.

    Maybe a Kearns trade is in the offing, although the Reds are asking for a couple of boats of pirate booty to move him. I don’t see how Dunn could be had, unless the Braves agree to move Marte in the deal. But I think the Reds have a 3B prospect Edwin Encarnacion, who doesn’t have as much luster as Marte, but is still considered a solid prospect. So, I don’t know if the Reds would want Marte that much.

    Langerhans deserves a shot as well.

    With this departure, I don’t see how Giles can be traded. You can’t take that much offense out of a line-up and expect to win.

  17. I hate to pick nits, but Klesko was a “little-expreience guy”?

    He was with the Braves for eight years (although the first three were admittedly part-time). He played 792 regular-season games, for an average of 99 games a year in that span.

    No, certainly not 162 a year, but considering that he only played 127 in his first 3 years combined, that sounds pretty much like a full-time guy to me (133/yr in the subsequent years).

    In case you’re wondering, I mourned the Klesko trade for quite some time. I really liked him as a player and as an off-the-field guy I’d like to buy a brew.

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