Two clueless franchises

More open thread – Braves Journal

Not that I take MLB Rumors at all seriously, but the two most clueless franchises in baseball are the Devil Rays and Pirates. I’ve dealt with the D-Rays before; they aren’t getting Chuck James. They always overreach in trades, and this tendency did not begin with Scott Kazmir; that was just the only time anyone was that stupid/desperate.

The Pirates may actually be worse. This is the team that wouldn’t trade Jose Mesa in 2004 when he was actually pitching well for once, because if they did they wouldn’t have a Closer™ and everyone would get discouraged and the team would lose even more than the 87 games and presumably they’d get a higher draft choice which they would just blow anyway. And then when Señor Table was pitching badly in 2005 they still could have gotten prospects, but no, that would have hurt their chances to lose fewer than 95 games. Then last year they could have traded Salomon Torres for someone who might actually contribute to a team that had a chance at finishing above .500, and they didn’t pull the trigger that time either.

And it’s not just mediocre old relievers they overvalue. It’s mediocre young starters. Hence the Kristin Benson saga. You may recall that the Braves supposedly were going to trade Marcus Giles and Ryan Langerhans for Benson, at a time when Giles had just made the All-Star team. Also, the Susquehanna is made of hot fudge. The next year they wanted Jose Capellan and Andy Marte, though at least that would have been a better return on Capellan than the Braves eventually got. The Pirates did eventually trade Kristin, to the Mets — and got a lot less than the D-Rays did from them that same week.

There’s simply no point in hanging onto these guys. Mike Gonzalez, now, he might actually be special. But the Pirates aren’t helping their cause by trying to add utterly useless players to the deal. So for LaRoche and Kyle Davies (who still might be useful someday) they will offer Gonzalez and a collection of scrubs who play positions where the Braves are already deep? Jose Castillo is a nothing player, a replacement-level placeholder who is no better than Martin Prado. Humberto Cota is a miscellaneous backup backstop who would interest the Braves if he were five years older (he’s 27). And at his current pace, Nate McLouth might grow up to be Tike Redman. Give me a break.

If a deal does not work, there is no point in adding on major league scrap to the deal. If you won’t add a useful player, at least add prospects who might, someday, turn out useful. No wonder the Pirates lose every year — they think these guys have value.

78 thoughts on “Two clueless franchises”

  1. Since this thread was just added:

    Braves face Tuesday deadline
    David O’Brien

    While the rumor-an-hour mill continues grinding, the Braves face a very real decision Tuesday that’s probably already been made and may well offend a significant segment of their fan base.

    Marcus Giles fans, of which there are plenty, have a difficult time understanding why the Braves might actually non-tender the plucky second baseman…

    I still can’t believe the Devil Rays turned down Saltalamacchia, Escobar and whatever non-James pitcher the Braves offered. Idiots. I still really want Gonzalez, but I doubt it will happen.

    [Edited to an excerpt for copyright reasons. — MT]

  2. Cross posted like the above….

    I refuse to believe that non-tendering Giles is a better option than calling up the Red Sox, whose middle infield is set to be manned by Dustin Pedroia and Alex Cora, and saying, “We’ll give you Giles now, give us Abe Alvarez or Barry Hertzler and you’ve got a deal.”

    Giles will be more expensive as a free agent than he will be in arbitration, and even then, there is no guarantee for any team hopeful of signing him that they will be able to outbid other interested teams. Don’t non-tender!

  3. Is $80 mil a hard cap?
    There was a rumour that Hampton was willing to rework his deal to accomodate Glav. Can’t he do the same for Giles?

  4. Sounds like it because JS wasnt willing to give Glavine any numbers until he cleared salary room. I dont think he can go over at all

  5. flournoy,

    I agree that the Red Sox make sense…but Lugo is now their shortstop, not Cora.

    I actually suggested the Sawx a couple days ago.

  6. It’s too bad that the front office people in Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh still have jobs. When you finish in last place every year for something like a decade, it’s time to hang up the pocket protectors, guys.

  7. Chris Duffy could work for us as a leadoff/left fielder…….he isn’t spectacular, but not many bucs besides Bay or Sanchez are. If they want Davies and LaRoche, fine, I want Ian Snell, Gonzalez and one more….Idiots.

  8. I think the market for Giles is thinning, with the Padres looking like they would rather re-sign Todd Walker, and Belliard still out there, the Sox might be the best team for Giles, but a team that can spend like they can would be smart to just wait until Giles is non-tendered, and then outbid everyone.

  9. Might I inquire as to who is totally owning my fantasy football team (Chas Humphrey, Esq.) in the playoffs?

    At a minimum, I need Jeff Wilkins to personally account for 24 points tonight for the Rams against the Bears.

    I probably won’t watch.

  10. The market for Giles isn’t really thinning anymore, it’s hard to imagine that there’s any room left for it to shrink. But some team is surely willing to give up a B or C prospect for him, if only so they can flip him to another team after Tuesday’s deadline.

  11. The Mets supposedly want Marcus Giles as their everyday second baseman if the Braves non-tender him (they don’t want Jose Valentine). Does anyone fear him with the Mets? I don’t.

  12. Dan,
    I am pretty sure that Giles will end up with the Mets. They are the only team with an obvious place for him (I had forgotten about Lugo with Boston), and they have the money. I don’t want to see Giles on the Mets because I don’t like seeing Braves playing for the Mets, but the possibility (probability?) doesn’t worry me. I just hope that if it comes to that, the Braves get something from the Mets instead of nothing.

  13. Giles puts up an .800 OPS next year, IMO. Probably for the Mets.

    That said, I don’t think we should fear it, because without some crazy moves and good luck, we don’t have a great shot at them anyways, with or without Giles. Also my opinion. 2007 for us looks OK on the surface, but very little depth and margin for error.

  14. DrewDat…..wasnt that our prediciment (sp?) last year? Very little depth (bullpen) and little margin for error (June’s W-L record)

    I feel like we are much better off than last year. We have an established Closer….our bullpen slots are pretty well set, and we actually have a logjam in the bullpen. I still worry about the leadoff spot, and I worry about Chipper’s health….but other than that…..

  15. I’d hate to see giles on the mets. he’s a player I will want to succeed with his next team but if he’s on the Mets I can’t cheer for him. The Braves owners are ruining baseball for me. That and/or the absence of salary cap.

  16. Well, it remains to be seen, but…

    Rotation – Smoltz, Hampton, and Hudson are all injury risks. The latter two are performance risks to a degree, and Smoltz isn’t getting any younger. I think we can safely count on good pitching from 2 of those 3.

    James is still young. Hard to absolutely rely on him, but I think he’ll keep doing well.

    Davies/5th starter/injury replacements are all big ?’s.


    Probably a tad worse than last year. Likely (to varying degrees) downgrades at 2B, C, 1B, LF. SS, CF, and 3B are probably the same. I’d expect RF to improve, can’t get a whole lot worse OBP-wise.

    Bench is similar.

    However, you get into the trade LaRoche/Andruw rumors. Replacing LaRoche 2006 with LaRoche 2007 is probably a downgrade, but a good deal moreso with Thorman. Depending on who we got back, we might not lose offense. If I were guessing year-end rank, I’d go with 4th or 5th as opposed to last year’s (wildly inconsistent) 3rd (I think).

    Bullpen is obviously upgraded. Wickman is getting up there, but he was great for us.

    It isn’t hard to project a better year than last, but I still don’t see more than a Wild Card win total. Hope I’m wrong.

  17. Updating the Bama coaching circus:
    Bama fanbase wants a coach that is an alum, associated with Bama, has Bama ties, is not afraid of choking.

    Why not Latrell Sprewell?

  18. Wryn, I have only one thing to say to you: MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

    KC, I doubt it’s complete BS. I’m guessing that the Pirates think this is a reasonable deal and next will probably find a .245 hitting third baseman to “sweeten” the pot. But it’s not something the Braves are going to do.

  19. Marcus to Boston doesn’t make much sense to me, but only because I am of the opinion that he’s basically the same player as Pedroia, only older and more expensive. Both are fairly good at getting on base, hit for good average, don’t have a lot of pop, are solid defensively, and are too short to play on the left side of the infield. The difference is about 5 years and $6 million.

    I’d much rather he stay here, but I bet he gets non-tendered tomorrow and goes to either the Mets or the Padres.

  20. Yes in the past the Rays front office always asked for too much. But in case you didnt notice, there is new ownership and new front office personnel in the past year. In fact in the past year, the Rays have made more trades than they did in the previous five years combined.

    The problem with this scenario is that the Rays do not HAVE to trade Rocco, so why not ask for a lot? if they dont get what they want for Rocco, they will be happy to keep him and trade away one of the younger players (Upton, Dukes).

  21. Theres a reason franchises lose conistently for a decade and trade offers like that are a part of it. I’d like to think we could get something for Giles but its beginning to like that may well be impossible. I always liked him when he played here. He seemed to always hussle and I think he may still have a little upside left in him before he peaks. I especially think he has better years than last year even though last year wasn’t too bad when you really look at it.

    Its hard to believe that teams will just sit and wait out the Braves to get Marcus Giles in a bidding process. When they could probably get him for a B or C quality prospect. Why not admit you could use a solid middle infielder… you’d like guarantee you get him on your team for as little as possible and trade a C quality prospect to get him? I don’t understand why a team would not do that.

    Of course, with the current market I guess teams don’t mind spending a billion dollars for a 6 million dollar second baseman… they are willing to give a fortune to Gary Matthews Jr and Gil Meche.

  22. If we tender a contract to GIles, would that force another team to trade for him if the wanted him? I mean, if the Padres really want him, then they’d have to trade for him. At this point, I think its safe to say that we would take anything at this point for GIles

  23. Brandon Cox’s right leg, taken after the Georgia game. Unbelievable. He had no business playing in the Bama game.

  24. I just have a feeling that we won’t non-tender Giles. I think JS will pull out a trade at the last minute. It may not be a good one, but isn’t anything, even the most marginal of players, better than nothing? Given some of the ridiculous contracts, it’s just hard to believe that Marcus won’t be worth something. If not a trade, I think we find a way to keep him – if nothing else to keep him from the Mets.

  25. (Drewdat, that would be me as Another Overrated #7. Now I just need to find a way to kneecap LaDainian before next week’s game.)

    AAR, Tampa Bay cleaned out Chuck LaMar and the rest of his band of idiots after the ’05 season. Obviously, new GM Andrew Friedman didn’t help much this season.

    I wouldn’t be heartbroken if we lost Giles- second basemen have a tendency to wear down faster than most other players, and we do have competent replacements on hand in Aybar and perhaps KJ. If sacrificing Giles makes it possible to long-term Andruw, that’s a decision we should make.

  26. I don’t see the Braves tendering Giles either–but I don’t expect to get very much in return. We will get some name to search the internet for talk about for less than 20 minutes and then be forgotten.

    Clearly the Braves should have moved Giles in the summer when he might have brought something good in return.

    That said, I tend to agree with the comments made above: the Braves are already a better team than last season, but depth is a real problem.

  27. The Pirate’s trading strategy (from all the rumors of what went down) reminds me of what I tend to do in MLB 06 and Baseball Mogul.

    Offer a reasonable trade, but lopsided in my favor. They don’t take it? Add on someone worthless like Michael Ryan, or David Kelton, or Henry Blanco. Don’t like it? How about I add in Jeff Reboulet or Brandon Duckworth. Eventually, its a 5 for 1 trade and I get Eric Bedard and they get Craig Wilson and a bunch of spare tires and various garbage.

    So does Littlefield and company actually train on video games? I hope so.

    PS–I met him once at a resort type place I worked at in my home town. He was a total shithead.

  28. Brian J, that’s the thing: Tampa axed LaMar and Pittsburgh axed Bonifay, but their clueless replacements aren’t doing any better. If you ask me, absolutely everyone needs to get waxed from top to bottom.

  29. Josh have you tried that on Baseball Mogul in its hardest mode? I believe its called Mogul difficulty… it doesn’t work. You also get to experience the insanely bloated contracts on that mode. Its different. Or maybe I suck but Ive tried 12 for 1 trades on that mode… it just wont work.

  30. Does Baseball Mogul 2007 come with the team names and rosters fully loaded? I didn’t think they had a license for it.

  31. (Gotcha, Brian J. I guess we both wanted to go stealth mode on other owners with Team Names that can’t be traced back here.

    Noticed that you had had McNabb earlier in the year. Very impressive performance without such a key player. Good luck the rest of the way.

    About Tomlinson… I had first pick and nabbed Shaun Alexander. What a steal. At least he made up for lost time with a stellar performance this week. So, can’t help you there.)

    Agree about trading Giles to the AL for anything but bad contracts at this point. Maybe JS can surprise, though. Giles has been mentioned a couple times as a part of trades with useful guys coming back (whether realistic or not). At this point, I’d be fine with taking a flyer on a player that has a poor track record but has shown something to a scout. Any scout.

  32. It’s kind of strange that the Rays are still overreaching when their last GM was fired after not succeeding with that tactic.

    I don’t really think of the Pirates as serial overreachers. I can’t even remember who they got for Aramis Ramirez, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t close to his value.

  33. Aramis with Kenny Lofton and cash (!) for Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez, and Matt Bruback.

    Made no sense on many levels. They wiped out their deadline chips for Hill, who had busted out with the Cubs, Hernandez, a vet, and Bruback, who I assume was a throw-in. Just horrible, better to let them walk. It was like they were trying to help the Cubs win it all that year.

  34. Mac, I am sure that’s not bs from the Pirates’ point of view! Maybe I should have said they are dreaming instead!

  35. That was the greatest website ever Ububba. (at # 20…)

    I actually bookmarked it and will now make it a required part of my daily reading.

  36. MLB Rumors…

    Braves To Nontender Giles, Reitsma?
    In large part because of salary concerns, the Braves are likely to nontender second baseman Marcus Giles and reliever Chris Reitsma according to David O’Brien.

    There are still some second basemen on the free agent market, but Giles should intrigue several clubs. He’ll turn 29 in May and aside from 2006 hits well above average for a second baseman. The Devil Rays, Red Sox, and Mets would be smart to consider him.

    Reitsma turns 29 in December. The former Braves closer had Tommy John surgery in July, so he could still recover in time to help a team during the 2007 season. He had three fairly respectable seasons prior to 2006 and even made 21 starts in ’02. For a few million bucks he’d be a good play in either role. I’d try him as a fifth starter option; he has strong groundball tendencies. Overall, the free agent market is up 47% this winter.

  37. from Mets blog, interesting….

    In the New York Post, George King notes that the Red Sox and Yankees are both competing in a trade for Pirates LHP Mike Gonzalez, but may need the help of the Braves to pull it off.

    As King describes it, the Pirates would want Adam LaRoche from the Braves in exchange for Gonzalez, who would require the Yankees to part with OF Melky Cabrera and RHP Scott Proctor.

    In 54 innings for the Pirates last season, Gonzalez struck out 64 hitters while walking the 31 with a 2.17 ERA. In 2005, his ERA was 2.70 in 51 appearances, and 1.25 in 47 appearances in 2004.

    He will likely earn a $2 million salary via arbitration this off-season.

    …it is clear to me that the Mets have zero chance of acquiring gonzalez, unfortunately…the Pirates want a top-flight, young hitter, like a laroche, which the Mets do not have to part with…

    …meanwhile, the buzz from pittsburgh points to the Braves having the inside track on gonzalez, with other names, like Jose Castillo, being batted around…if gonzalez goes to the Braves, who may look to flip him, there is no way they trade him to the best team in their division…

  38. Typical arrogant “best team in their division” comment from a dumb Mets fan. I think they are just as good….or bad…as we are.

  39. And if we got Gonzales, I think we would keep him, why would we trade someone with that sort of potential? He could be better than Wagner by a long shot

  40. Drewdat @16,

    Good analysis and I generally agree. But it wouldn’t be so bad to have “wild card win totals.” The World Champions had 83 wins, just four more than the Braves. And a lot of 100 win teams have been watching the Series on TV. What I would like to see is a team that improves as the season goes on. In recent years (last year was sort of an aberration), the Braves would get hot in May and June and then slowly fade so that by the playoffs they were struggling. The Braves used to be a very strong second half team, but lately they seem to begin exhibiting their weaknesses as the seaons goes on. Of course, last year they did play better after June, but not great.

  41. Why wouldnt we keep a cheap 24 year old closer and keep Wickman. I would think that if we are going to move someone it would be the older more expensive guy. You would think that we could get the same package for Wickman, Im sure several teams would be interested in him. That could also free up enough $$ to resign some other guys…

    maybe I’m wrong and I’m sure someone will tell me why

  42. That’s interesting, we get Melky Cabrera and Scott Proctor. Our bullpen would be set with Wickmania, Soriano, Proctor, McBride, Yates, Sturtze, Boyer with Villarreal also cometing along with others. Cabrera is in left and he would be the CF of the future. And that would probably save us enough money to keep Giles. At least then we could force a team who wants him to trade for him. I don’t know if the Yankees want to do that, but if they think its keeping Gonzalez from the Red Sox they just might.

  43. Maybe it’s me, but I think Melky Cabrera just ain’t that good. He strikes me as the Miguel Cairo of the outfield: he’s not a good player, but for whatever reason he hits slightly better when he’s wearing pinstripes. I mean, he’s not much better than Tsuyoshi Shinjo.

  44. If we were to take a Proctor/Cabrera package instead of Mike Gonzalez — who’s not 24, by the way — I would vomit.

  45. yep he’s 28 and why not keep him and his $350K salary, then try and trade Wickman if needed to free up the cash

  46. That 3-way deal with the Yanks doesn’t make complete sense to me. Why in the world would we want Melky? I mean, he’s alright for them because he’s a good LF, gets on base (.381 OBP) & he’s surrounded with bashers, but he’s basically a Langerhans who walks & hits a little more. Neither hit much for power and both are very good defensive OFs. Do we need another LF with sub-.400 slugging pct?

    If JS is considering this, I’m assuming he’s looking at Melky as the very “leadoff hitter” he professes he’s not making a priority.

    I like Proctor, but not for LaRoche. Are we saying: Instead of Gonzo, we get Proctor and Melky? Yahoo. BFD. Nah, I don’t think so.

  47. Do NOT trade Wickman…..we had enough issues in the bullpen last year without losing this guy. If were gonna get rid of someone, get rid of Yates, not Wickman. Guys who can pitch out of the bullpen are valuable to this team, not someone to just trade off. Gonzalez, Wickman, and Soriano allow are starters to just work 6 innings if not less.

  48. I would want to keep both, but the article says we may be doing this trade to flip Gonzo elsewhere. I dont know why we would, but I would rather keep him because of salary reasons more than anything

  49. Gonzalez is due for arbitration, I think, so he won’t be making 350K. Do NOT trade Wickman.

    So, the Angels signed Darren Oliver yesterday…clearly, they can now afford to part with Ervin Santana.

  50. Indeed it was, Justin.

    According to my math — which may well be off by a bit — the Braves’ 25-man roster, as currently situated, is owed roughly 88.9MM this season. (This takes into account signing bonuses for Hudson, Smoltz, Chipper and Andruw, spread across the length of their contracts, which is the method used by the Braves in their accounting, I believe.)

    Even if I’m a little off, it’s pretty clear that we must, at a minimum, unload Giles. I cannot see us tendering him a contract — if no one offers us anything in a trade, I think we’ll let him walk.

  51. i’d love to see a graph of the braves’ declining purchasing power since 2002. salaries probably went up about 10% on average this year (if not more). in a time of salary inflation, we’ve gone from a 100m payroll to an 80m payroll. 80m is probably below the median salary these days… sigh

  52. Make that 99.3MM…I’d forgotten about The Grand Tanyon. Hopefully, I’ll be able to forget again in a second.

  53. That was of course supposed to be 89.3 — but I actually think it’s more like 89.7MM. I’ll stop now.

  54. If I was JS, I would just go over the salary cap and say oops, we don’t know how that happened, what are they gonna do fire possibly the most successful GM in the game, and lose all sorts of face. Well, if they even cared about face.

  55. Lee,

    I don’t understand why you object to the Mets calling themselves the best team in the division. They are until someone proves otherwise. How can you say the Braves are just as good when the Bets won 98 games and the Braves won 79. Is Rafael Soriano enough to make up the difference. Maybe the Mets won’t be as good and the Braves will be better, but, as of now, I think you have to concede the Mets are the best time–like it or not. Plus, what do you expect from a New York newspaper? I guarantee if the situation was reversed,the Atlanta papers would be talking about the Braves being the best team. They are partisan just like we are partisan.

  56. Kyle,

    I think by next year $80 mill. will be below the median. It’s ratehr pathetic hwo we stay in limbo and Bud do Nothing continues to, well, do nothing.

    All that aside, I would be happy for us to trade Giles but non tendering is downright stupid.

    Re: Pirates deal….Who’s still running that team, Cam Bonifay? I would love to have Mike Gonzalez but if LaRoche continues taking his ADD meds, there’s now no reason to think he can’t repeat his 2006 performance. And we do need the offense.

    My concern is that we have absolutely no lefty relievers currently with the exception of chunky Mcbride who’s not very good. Gonzalez would give us the best back end of the bullpen in the NL next year, but Thorman seems to me like a huge downgrade from laRoche.

    Re: D-Rays deal.

    I am with the Braves wholeheartedly on doing the deal, if it’s Salty, Escobar and DAVIES. I agree…Chuck James is a better pitcher and has better upside, less injury issues and he’s a lefty to boot. No way would I trade Chuckie either.

    Davies, while he still MIGHT be good, is easily a tradeable commodity if the net return is a terrific 4 tool outfielder who’s young and could potentially offset the loss of Andruw next offseason.

    It makes no sense to me why the D-Rays wouldn’t do the deal with Davies…it gives them 2 fantastic prospects and a starter who if healthy, can be as good as James, just a righty. The D-Rays are fools but thankfully, we are not and we obviously won’t trade James.

  57. also shows that we have no chance of bringing back Andruw. Only way possible is to not offer Smoltz an extension and we have to trade Huddy by ’08 just to keep Andruw.

  58. Alex,

    Welcome back!

    I think McBride is better than you give him credit for, although adding Gonzalez would of course be good.

    You’re okay with Cormier or Villarreal as our fifth starter?

  59. csg,

    I’m worried that it also shows that trading LaRoche is a must. Hopefully my calculations are off by enough that that isn’t the case.

  60. Leadoff may not be a priority, but JS is obviously in the market for one. How else do you explain the Brian Roberts trade that fell through.

  61. @68
    My logic for saying that the Mets aren’t the best team in the division stems from
    their troubles, not our trades. They have a rotation that is no better than ours.
    And pitching wins. Wagner is a year older, who knows how Sanchez will bounce back and Mota will miss the first 50 games of the year. Personally, right now, on paper, I think that the Phillies are the best team in the division. You see, when I said that they were just as good (or bad) as us, that did not mean I was saying that we (the Braves) were the best team in the division. with the Marlins wealth of talent and the Phillies acquisitioins, they may both be better than the Mets and the Braves. Mark my words, the Mets WILL NOT win the division. Not that the Braves will,cause they probably won’t, but the Mets have a lot of questions this year.

  62. Its Dave Roberts, and I’m glad it fell through. I think JS is avtually just looking for a better LF’r for this year and someone who can move to center when Andruw leaves. Js is just planning for 08 now and I can see why. There is no way with Huddy, Chipper, and Hampton that we can afford to keep him. Baldelli trade makes sense, he’s a whole lot better than Matthews, Roberts, or Pierre also

  63. Sorry, I was thinking of the Dave Roberts deal that fell through. I’m also glad the Brian Roberts trade fell through also

  64. If….we would’ve received Penn and Roberts in that Orioles trade could JS have then sent Penn & Escobar to Tampa Bay for Baldelli?

    Interesting to think that maybe the Baltimore trade was just the tip of the iceberg…

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