Other infield possibilities

It seems unlikely that the Braves will go into the season with only Infante as a backup infielder, but there are some options situations that may tempt them to carry five outfielders, and of course carrying “only” eleven pitchers would be insane. Willy Aybar is out of options, but also out of favor after missing the entire 2007 season with drug problems. He should have a chance to win his way back into the team’s plans this spring, and he’s easily more talented than the Prados of the world. I wish that MLB and the MLBPA would agree to something like a “redshirt year” for players like Aybar; he needs to get back up to speed in the minors and forcing him onto an MLB bench as a 25th man would only retard his development. His best chance is to get cut by the Braves and sign a minor league deal, but his status as a once-hot prospect may get him onto someone’s major league roster.

Martin Prado is almost completely uninteresting, a singles-hitting infielder who can’t play shortstop, or at least hasn’t (seven career games there). 55 percent career basestealer in the minors, 15 career homers. Does have a career .300 batting average in the minors, but that really shouldn’t be enough to get him a job. Has almost as many career GIDP (34) as homers and triples combined (37). He does appear to be a legitimately excellent second baseman, but the Braves have a second baseman already.

I don’t see any reason to put Brent Lillibridge on the roster yet. I like him a lot, but it would seem to me that his best chance would be either to make it because of an injury to Escobar or Johnson, or (if Kotsay gets hurt in spring rather than waiting two weeks in) to be part of a centerfield combination (which would help the chances of Prado or Aybar, since he would give the team another backup shortstop). By far the best basestealer among the infield candidates, and probably the team’s best leadoff option, but sticking him on the bench to play six innings a week would be foolish.

Javier Guzman has been invited to spring training. He’s so bad he can’t even make it with the Pirates, and makes Prado look like Charlie Gehringer. His only chance to make the ballclub is for Infante to get hit by a bus… driven by Lillibridge. Pass.

Willy Aybar Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com
Martin Prado Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Brent Lillibridge Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com
Javier Guzman Statistics (Minor Leagues) – Baseball-Reference.com

192 thoughts on “Other infield possibilities”

  1. In response to jjbagger’s question from the last thread, you are correct — Cox has not pitched a position player in his current stint as manager.

    –Russ Nixon was the last to do it — Terry Blocker and John Russell pitched in ’89.

    –If I’m not mistaken, Blocker tried to come back as a pitcher during the strike.

    –Luis Gomez pitched as a Brave for Cox in 1981.

    –Judging from the available evidence, Dan Kolb may actually have been a position player.

    –I was at this game — the Giants half of the ninth ended with a screaming line drive double play off the bat of Will Clark. Oddibe McDowell had just completed warming up in the bullpen, and we were sure that he was coming in if Clark had reached.

  2. mac,
    did last year count as one of aybar’s option years? For what ever reason i didn’t think he ever played in a regular season game, but i’m not that familiar with mlb’s rules on options and roster status.
    Prado seems like trade bait to me as does lillibridge, with guzman being the likely candidate to have an amazing spring make it on to the roster and be the prototypical orr/woodward player bobby so desperately needs
    It would be great if aybar could come around by spring, but i’m with you, he needs some more time in the minors to get back in the flow of things.
    i know i said this before, but for whatever reason lillibridge just doesn’t excite me much as a player. yes he’s a scrappy little guy, but nothing i saw while watching him play last year made me hope that he’d be with the big team soon.
    prado hasn’t really made any progress in the last to years, it’s time to move on.

  3. Sansho1,

    i remember watching that game on TV, it seems like the Braves played alot of those type of games. I was looking at the box score, and saw Charlie Kerfeld’s name. Wasnt he the Terry Foyster’ish looking pitcher that sprinted in fromt the pen and sprinted on/off the mound?

  4. Prado is gonna make the team and join Infante on the bench. Come on, we all know it. And most of us don’t like it

    Since the Braves are committed to Kotsay for the CF job, it’s doubtful Lillibridge will play CF. Ideally, for me, they would have committed Lillibridge to getting (re)acclimated to that position this offseason and we would be starting the year with him as the starter there, and leadoff guy as well. As it stands, perhaps he can start AAA there, but not if it retards his development in any way. It seems the brass expects Shaefer to be ready sooner rather than later so messing with Lillibridge for half a season is a questionable move at best.

  5. ok……i’m convinced that its time to stop withall the complaints about the kotsay deal and all the other shortcommings of this braves team. just go look at the link in post #1. god, what a nightmarish lineup that was. jim pressley batting cleanup??? and sancho bought a ticket !!

  6. I have an oppurtunity to be in FL for the last two weeks of Feb. I would like watch some spring training. Games start the last couple days of Feb. Should you buy seats before or are they available at game time? What is the best way to see the work outs? Time? Place? etc. If you don’t want to respond here how about to me at skosowick@shaw.ca. Thanks

  7. Amen, barrycuda.

    Re: the infield

    Bobby loves useless players like Infante and Prado and now we have 2 of them, so they may both make the team.

    But on the flipside, how do we get away from carrying 5 outfielders if we worry at all about Kotsay injury problems.

    Plus, I imagine they will either plan to platoon Diaz with Gregor Blanco or Brandon Jones.

    So you figure they carry a Diaz platoon partner (but again, I am on the side of giving Diaz all the time in the world to showcase himself as the evryday leftielder – he’s earned that right in my book) plus like Josh Anderson as Kotsay injury insurance/late inning pinch runner.

    Likely we only carry 2 catcher – McCann and Javy. My sense is they will have Corky ‘useless’ Miller in the farm and likely trade Brayan Pena.

    Of course, it’s typical Bobby to carry 12 pitchers, but we shall see.

  8. sansho,

    I was at that game, too! Of course, I was only 8, but I remember the game vividly because both of my favorite players at the time, Murphy and Treadway, hit homers.

  9. If the Rays want Aybar, perhaps they could send us Joel Guzman.

    Guzman has played 1B, 3B, SS, and OF in the Majors. For my money, he can take Thorman’s spot on the roster.

    Not exactly sure about Guzman’s options status though. He’d be great to start the year in Gwinnett County until needed if possible.

  10. I should also note that I really hope Aybar gets a second chance and makes the team. He’s a much better hitter than Prado. I am all for guys like Aybar, Brandon Jones, and Brayan Pena filling out the bench, though I know it’s a pipe dream.

  11. Sure, Guzman has Andy Marte Disease, but he’s still just 23. Here’s Baseball America’s Top 10 prospects list from 2005:

    1. JOE MAUER, c, Twins Scouting Report
    “We had some concern from the start that he was bigger than the normal catcher. But Joe Mauer is not normal, from his mind to his tools to his heart.”
    –Twins scouting director Mike Radcliff

    2. FELIX HERNANDEZ, rhp, Mariners Scouting Report
    “He’s the best I’ve seen in the last three or four years, and he’s right up there with the great stuff guys I’ve ever seen.”
    –NL scout

    3. DELMON YOUNG, of, Devil Rays Scouting Report
    “He changes the outcome of every game with his power and his arm.”
    –Charleston (W.Va.) manager Ken Joyce

    4. IAN STEWART, 3b, Rockies Scouting Report
    “He’s athletic and he’s got some juice in his bat, and I like his haircut.”
    –Savannah manager Bob Henley

    5. JOEL GUZMAN, ss, Dodgers Scouting Report
    “He’s Juan Gonzalez waiting to happen.”
    –AL scout

    6. CASEY KOTCHMAN, 1b, Angels Scouting Report
    “He’s such a good hitter and he’s still developing. I think he’ll easily hit 30-plus homers in the majors.”
    –NL scout

    7. SCOTT KAZMIR, lhp, Devil Rays Scouting Report
    “You’ll know why we traded for him when you see him pitch. He’s got outstanding stuff.”
    –Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar

    8. RICKIE WEEKS, 2b, Brewers Scouting Report
    “He has the tools, he’s smart, he’s a good person and he has the work ethic. He’s going to be outstanding.”
    –NL scout

    9. ANDY MARTE, 3b, Braves Scouting Report
    “There’s nothing not to like about Andy Marte. He’s an outstanding defender with a chance to be an impact player offensively.”
    –Birmingham manager Razor Shines

    10. HANLEY RAMIREZ, ss, Red Sox Scouting Report
    “What a young talent. He makes the game look so easy.”
    –Fort Myers manager Jose Marzan

    Full list:
    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/features/040228top1004.html

  12. Alex it might have just been a slip up on your part, but I don’t think there is any chance of Blanco platooning with Diaz. Jones maybe yes, but Blanco no.

  13. I don’t see any chance whatsoever that Aybar makes the team unless he hits about .500 in S.T.

    The organization has lost complete faith in him with his immature actions over the last few years. My sense is the Braves will cut him or ship him for cash somewhere and he gets one final shot at a semblance of a MLB career, somewhere else.

    He’s a big disappointment in my mind because I think this kid has tremendous talent and if he didn’t have a ten cent head, he could have become an everyday player for the Braves.

  14. Justin,

    I wouldn’t think so – Blanco is a scrub to me – but considering we are an organization that has tried to turn Ryan Langerhans into an everyday player and given ACTUAL starts to Chris Woodward, you have to accept the possibility that Bobby Cox will think about it.

  15. Alex R,
    i disagree about aybar, if the organization had soured on him then why didn’t they release or trade him earlier? They must hold some hope for him or he would have gone the way of orr.

  16. Maybe we can get the Rays to trade us Baldelli for Aybar. I would love to see that trade, just for yuks.

  17. beedee,

    You maybe right – just by the fact that they haven’t released him. I think they see the talent, but see a guy incapable of making good decisions and being mature.

    My guess is he will get his chance to play in S.T. and have a chance to do something with it.

    At the very least he owes the Braves organization a major apology.

  18. Alex, I’m reluctant to post this because I don’t think that the discussion is going to get us anywhere… But I don’t think that Aybar’s problems are his own fault. I think that he’s suffering from mental illness and addiction, and that he needed treatment. Baseball hasn’t been the most enlightened industry in the world when it comes to these things, particularly mental illness. (Only only player, ever, has gone on the DL with mental illness, and he and the union had to go to arbitration to secure this.)

    I’ll repeat what I said in the post; there should be allowances for players who miss the entire season in their last option year, because it’s bad for them as well as for the team to force them onto the major league roster without getting back into the swing of things.

  19. @26
    i think he has apologized. he was obviously embarrassed by the situation. it sounds like he’s a shy guy that wasn’t around enough to foster any relationships of meaning in the last part of the season in which he was trade to the braves. then he spent the whole winter killing it in mexico or wherever, re-aggravated the wrist injury he got when sliding into a base while with atlanta.

    isolated, and injured he started self medicating and continued to make poor decisions by not explaining his injury concerns clearly.

    he’s young, made a mistake that hurt him, but i don’t look at him as a guy who was being selfish just inexperienced at life…something we’ve all been at one time or another.

  20. On one hand, mental illness (if that’s indeed what Aybar has) is a serious illness, not to be taken lightly by the Braves or anyone, and problems related to it are understandable. I am not sure I would qualify Willie Aybar as being mentally ill, but I am not sure anyone knows for sure.

    I also, however, believe in personal responsibility. If you know you have problems, whether they are related to simple maturity issues or actual mental illness, SEEK help.

    Yes, there are those in our society who’s problems are so overwhelming, they don’t know how to ask for help, but Aybar has the financial resources and would have had the support of a Baseball organization 9the Braves) that has shown to care about its players a lot – if he just asked for help.

    If he has apologized, beedee, well, that makes me happy – because even if he does have mental illness, on SOME level I think you have to take personal responsibility and own up to mistakes or problems and deal with them. I think we are in too much of an excuse society sometimes.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. I didn’t mean to make it sound political, by any means, but Aybar in the past 2 years just seemed to make one horrible and selfish decision after another, and should be held responsible for his actions, on some level.

  21. Alex,

    Aybar doesn’t owe the Braves an apology any more than Hampton does. He didn’t ask the Braves to trade for him. And I doubt he intended to get hooked on drugs.

  22. And when his brother and Vlad Guerrero were there to offer help, he took it. Drugs can take over your life. The Braves might have offered Aybar help, but he wasn’t there, because he was that messed up.

    I still think he needs more time in the minors to get back on his feet, but I’d also rather he made the team than Prado.

  23. We’ll agree to disagree. If you take drugs – that’s a choice. If he did that, he absolutely should apologize to his ’employers’ (re: the Braves).

    Marc – I work for an Interactive communications firm. If I started snorting lines of coke, not showing up for work for days and weeks on end, and when I did show up, I caused havoc at the workplace, you’re saying I wouldn’t OWE an apology to my boss and my firm?

    I guess we just have way different mindsets but it seems we have a lot of people in here who seem to completely excuse Aybar’s behavior and feel that basically, you can do whatever you want at the cost of your organization, but offer no apology.

    I find that downright stunning.

  24. And marc, another thing (because honestly your response baffles me) you cannot compare Hampton and Aybar’s situations in the least.

    Hampton, while we all make fun of him because this guy is always freaking hurt, has no choice in the matter. Mike Hampton isn’t running off to Mexico and doing drugs and disappearing. Mike is trying his damndest to get out there and play, and injuries, beyond his control, are forcing him to the sidelines.

    This is about choice. Willie Aybar has chosen to heap bad decisions upon bad decisions.

    Based on your bizarre logic, any bad thing anyone does in society is excusable and no one owes an apology for anything? I am sorry, this is wrong. And you cannot compare a guy who can’t help his injuries, to a guy disappearing for months on end and taking drugs. That’s a major insult to Mike Hampton, IMHO.

  25. Marc – I doubt murderers wake up intending to be murderers. But if something sets them off and they kill some innocent family in their home, are they excused from apologizing to the grieving family members & society?

    Obviously, Aybar did nothing as close to as bad – he didn’t kill anyone. But your response basically seems to excuse anyone for any kind of bad behavior, based on intent. My head is spinning on that.

  26. just go look at the link in post #1. god, what a nightmarish lineup that was. jim pressley batting cleanup???

    I remember attending this game as a youth link

    Andres Thomas – hitting third – there are no words. He was on his way to a stellar .252/.268/.360 line which was his high water mark.

    The leadoff men were Ron Gant and Barry Bonds before they, um, filled out.

    But to look back on it, what a game! Smoltz’s fifth career start (he sucked), an appearance from a (surely) drunken German Jimenez (he got Bonds out). The Braves rally from a three run deficit capped by a two run triple by Ken Oberkfell (I can still picture that ball winding into the right field corner of Three Rivers). The Braves rode the relief arm the immortal Charlie Puleo to victory. Man did that team suck. Unfortunately, my idol Murph went a quiet 0 for 4.

    I remember the local Pittsburgh news reporting on what a bad loss it was and that if the Pirates really want to be contenders they have to “beat teams like this”.

  27. Sorry for interrupting Alex’s rant. I didn’t know he could get this worked up over something not involving a certain centerfielder.

  28. Alex,

    I just joined in and the went right to the bottom and almost bust out laughing. That was great. I am not sure the analogy is close, but it is still awesome.

    I will say that you make a good point. I am speaking about people in general here. It is someone’s decision to use drugs and they have to face the consequences, and that may include apologizing to friends, family, team, etc…

  29. Robert,

    I have no doubt you enjoy interrupting my rants ;-) but I am sorry, that p.o.v. that non one is responsible for their actions, sets me off big time. Sorry for the rants.

  30. again, i think it comes to life experience. alcohol has ruined far greater men. having witnessed it’s effects on family, i can say that i wish him the best and think he deserves another chance. and that’s all i’m going to say about this.

  31. Alex,

    I never said that Aybar wasn’t responsible for his actions. But I don’t think he owes an apology to the Braves just because he messed up their plans. The only reason you care at all is because it was the Braves and it hurt the team. My point is Aybar needs to get his life in order whether or not it includes baseball. That takes priority, in my mind, over whether the Braves suffered from the decision to trade for him. The Braves took a chance and got burned. I’m sure there are people that Aybar has hurt more than the Braves by his actions and he should apologize to them.

  32. alex…………………i think almost all murders happen because of intent. not because something sets them off. its called premeditation.

  33. Alex,

    I dont know what type of drugs that Aybar was taking, but what if he got hooked on pain killers as a result of an injury? Would it then be his fault that the Dr prescribed him that medicine? Would it be his fault that maybe the pain relief turned into a problem? I work in the medical field, I see it alot. The drinking, well, I cant make any excuses for that.

  34. Ignoring the fact that addiction (alcoholism included) is a disease, how does anyone know that he hasn’t apologized? Or is only a public apology acceptable? Does he have to cry, too? Rend his garments? I mean, come on.

  35. Mac, nice change of subject there. You would think some team would take a gamble on Prado. He’s no worse than a bad Eckstein type hitter, but with a good glove

  36. Sorry Mac, its an arugment my wife and I have all the time.

    Any ideas who the Braves would be interested in from the Rays? Edwin Jackson?

  37. Yes, I think it would be nice to get Kazmir. We could definitely use an experienced lefty out of the bullpen. He is pretty good at getting leftys out, and would make a great situational reliever.

  38. Again, my lack of clarity has backfired. Who would the Braves realisticly expect, in return for Aybar, that isnt named Kazmir, Upton, Badelli, or Carlos Pena?

  39. I dunno Kenny. We could use him as our lefty setup man. I think he could handle that instead of just being a LOOGY. That also may allow us to put Ohman in the rotation.

  40. I think Aybar’s value is too low to ask for anything major league ready. He would have to prove he could still play in S.T. to get a decent deal. And then if he does, then we should use him.

  41. Second Spitter-

    It’s an argument my wife & I have too, but it sounds like I am on your wife’s side & vice versa.

    Aybar, even if with his gigantic amount of baggage, would still net us a better return player than Scott Thorman. Thorman just plain sucks. Aybar, if he could get his sh– together, has real talent.

  42. I’m not a fan of Prado, but I’m not willing to say he’s terrible yet due to the small sample size. Prado has all the makings of the classic AAAA guy, but I’m not opposed to giving him a little more of a chance. There is no way he can be worse than Woodward.

    I have a feeling that we’ll trade Aybar for a non-desript relief pitcher. This will allow Wren to say that he’s accomplished all of his priorities. I wish we could trade Thorman, Aybar and/or Prado for someone of actual value to the team. I’m afraid this is a pipe dream.

  43. td-

    Prado is a singles hitter with an OK glove. There’s no way around that. Unlike say a Yunel Escobar, there appears to be strong evidence that he would be anything more than a slightly more reliable version of Chris Woodward.

  44. I agree on Prado. My point is that a singles hitter with an okay glove that is a backup utility infielder at best probably won’t hurt the team much and may provide small benefit. I would much rather have a young guy like Prado in this situation than Cox’s coveted veteran bench player (i.e., Woodward). I would also prefer a guy like Prado over stunting the development of a real prospect like Lillibridge by giving him token at-bats.

  45. I like Aybar for Kazmir. I’d even be willing to throw in Corky Miller.

    I wouldn’t mind keeping a good glove like Prado around but you also need a bat off the bench (Javy?) I don’t want to see Prado pinch hitting in the ninth inning against Billy Wagner.

  46. “It’s not a sickness. It’s a weakness.” – Tommy LaSorda

    Not the whole truth, but a good bit of it …

  47. Getting back to the reserve IF question:

    Isn’t the truth of the matter that whoever joins Infante as a back-up infielder isn’t going to be much better than Prado/Orr/Woodward/Lockhart/Etc. etc. ad infinitum? If they were capable of hitting .300 with some power and a decent glove then they’d be starting for someone rather than sitting on our bench. So I can’t really get worked up about the back-up IF, as long as he comes near to what a replacement level player provides, then I’ll let Bobby have his veteran good-luck charm.

    (Of course, Woodward, who I’m convinced was mis-issued his 666 jersy in ST, did not provide enough that low standard of competence.)

  48. This just in from Keith Law:

    Daniel (Miami,FL): What are your thoughts on the Kotsay deal?

    SportsNation Keith Law: (1:07 PM ET ) Dump trade for Oakland, and they’ve had some success with specialist arms. But I’ve never been a big Devine fan – saw him for the first time in ’03 – and if Kotsay can play 120 games for the Braves, he’s a big help for them on defense and should get a bounce back in his power #s with the change in parks. I like it more for Atlanta.

  49. I’m not prepared to live in a world where KLaw isn’t crazy about Jordan Schafer but likes Mark Kotsay. (Different contexts, yes, but still.)

  50. Touche, Stu, and it’s a point well made. Still, he likes Heyward:

    Rick (ATL): Thoughts on Jason Heyward? He looks like an absolute star in the making. How quickly could he move? Does he displace Francouer in RF or does he move to LF?

    SportsNation Keith Law: (1:44 PM ET ) Definite star in the making. I wonder if Heyward could stay in center … I doubt it, but it might be worth giving him one year there in the minors to see.

  51. People are quoting Tommy LaSorda as an expert on human behavior? What’s next, having Bobby Cox explain quantum mechanics?

  52. Wow, Law likes the trade for the Braves. We’re not finding a whole lot of that on the internet. If he doesn’t like Devine, then it makes perfect sense: if Kotsay stays healthy, he’s a good player. That’s good for Atlanta.

  53. I would say that being predisposed to addiction (and yes, there is a genetic component) is like a weakness in the same way that being 5’6″ is a weakness if you’re playing basketball. Yes, it can be overcome, but it certainly makes life(basketball) more difficult.

  54. Okay, time for me to weigh in on this issue (I know you’re all waiting on pins and needles):

    I can understand the concern for Aybar and the sympathy with his situation. I agree with Mac that he probably still needs help and that being in a position where he’s got to make a major league roster is probably bad for him in all kinds of ways that have nothing to do with baseball.

    That said, let’s not get carried away in calling what he has a disease/sickness, because, at least in my mind, that implies that he never had a choice in the matter. Had he not initially made the decision to take drugs, he would not be chemically dependent now. He may not have chosen to become addicted, but he became addicted as a result of his own choice. That’s not the same as someone having pancreatic cancer.

    Mitch Hedberg (ironically, almost certainly stoned out of his mind at the time he wrote and/or delivered this) summed it up thusly:

    “Alcoholism is the only disease people get mad at you for having. ‘Damn it, Otto, you’re an alcoholic. Damn it, Otto, you have lupus.’ One of those doesn’t sound right.”

    His is of course a joke, but I think it highlights the point rather well.

  55. Are we starting to talk ourselves down from the ledge over the Kotsay deal?

    Really trying to talk ourselves into it. That’s what fans do. It’s all fine and good until the games start and he either gets hurt or starts sucking.

  56. Mitch Hedberg is also dead, I believe from a drug overdose. Interesting source to cite. However, Mitch Hedberg was one of my favorite comedians, and that joke is hilarious.

  57. Stu,

    I was actually waiting for you to weigh in because I felt, to a certain degree, you’d agree with my stance.

    That being said, I am surprised how many on Bravesjournal want to just give Aybar this free pass.

    re: Kotsay

    Speaking of an issue people won’t let go of…

    Look, he’s a 1 year rental, warming the outfield grass up for Jordan Schaefer.

    He cost $2.5 million and if he’s healthy for a 120 games or more, he likely hits around .275 with some power and good outfield defense. He’s not going to be on the NL All Star team. But you know what? When Andruw hits .230 for the Dodgers, he won’t be either.

    I am sorry, it’s a hard thing for me to criticize Kotsay when he’s yet to even take his first spring cuts and has had enough solid years, to say this trade was an absolute disaster.

  58. Until Aybar writes and autobiography with all the details of how and why he got started on whatever substance he was on and when he decided to get help or who helped him and whether or not he appologized to the organization. I think we should just wish he contributes to the Braves success this year.

  59. #4

    Yep, Kerfeld was Fat Tub of Goo 2.0.

    That game was the quintessential Ghastly Boys experience. The crowd was merciless to Kerfeld by the end. And then we were denied the opportunity to see Oddibe come in to pitch, which we were openly rooting for at that point.

    Stu, looking at Murph’s game log for 1990, we can say that we were there for his last big game in front of the home crowd. He didn’t do much between then and the trade, and just about all of it in road games. So something good came out of being there!

  60. Did I call Mitch an expert? No. I tried to imply that part of the reason why that joke is so funny is because there’s a lot of truth to it. And yes, the fact that he OD’d is part of the irony to which I alluded. Or tried to.

    If you can’t see that there’s a fundamental distinction between drug addiction and lupus/cancer, I guess this won’t go anywhere, so I’ll drop it, too.

    I do hope he gets better, though, whether it’s with the Braves, another organization, or outside the game.

  61. I wasn’t really trying to excuse Aybar’s addiction. I think there is a behavioral component to it in the sense that you don’t have to take the initial drink or hit of drugs. All I was saying is that the effect on the Braves is the least of the issues here.

  62. If you are among the owners who think that THEY are baseball; then Bud has been very good for baseball and by that thinking deserves his extention.
    When anything troubles this illusion, Bud’s “A” move is to look very saddened and troubled and promise prompt action…

    After he gets back from going to the bank.

  63. Well he should get some credit, the Wild Card and Interleague Games have been a huge boost to the game.

  64. All the Commissioners in all the sports are essentially CEOs that work for the owners. Do you think Roger Goodell really cares about the “good of the game” other than as it affects the profits the NFL makes? He clearly doesn’t care about the welfare of the players. The baseball commissioner is no different. Selig gets tons of flack but the fact is baseball has done quite well on his watch. Blaming Selig alone for the steroid issue is silly; there is plenty of blame to go around. Baseball is in great shape even with the scandal. Yes, there was a lockout on his watch, but there has also been relative labor peace in recent years, thanks in part to the additional revenue that Selig has had some part in bringing in. To expect Selig to operate as some kind of impartial referee of the sport for the benefit of the fans and players is unrealistic; he is hired and paid by the owners, just as Goodell and David Stern are. He has done lots of things I don’t like–making the All-Star Game count for home field in the World Series being one–but within the parameters in which he operates, I think he has been a successful commissioner. I think his main problem is that he is much less smooth than the NFL and NBA Commissioner and he is very grating; he comes off like the midwestern car salesman he is. As for Alex’s favorite bugaboo, salaries, I don’t know what Selig could do to rein in Scott Boras other than having the CIA render him to some middle eastern country.

  65. Hey Alex R.

    I don’t think anybody wants to give Aybar a free-pass. I don’t think anybody here except you feels that they are in a position to give Aybar anything at all, neither a free-pass nor a hard-time.

    His drug problem, his choices, and his relationships are his business and his alone. He has done absolutely nothing to you.

    The time and attention you devote to a team does not make it’s players personal lives any of your business.

    He IS taking respobsibility for his mistakes BECAUSE HE IS LIVING THROUGH THEM. That’s all you can do. You live through the consequences of your actions. His friends, his teammates, his family, his career. He is the one who deals with those things, and lives through the changed situations that his actions have caused. Not you.

    He’s not a major league regular, and isn’t making millions of dollars. Those are things that he could have had and doesn’t have. Maybe he lost a girlfriend due to his addiction. Maybe his mother is mad at him. He probably lost a great deal of respect in the eyes of his teammates. Those are situations that he IS taking responsibility for, because HE IS THE ONE LIVING THEM. He’s waking up everyday and facing his consequences. As far as I’ve read, step-12 isn’t holding a press conference to apologize to all the people who know your AAA batting average, but not your middle name.

    Maybe your feeling is that he doesn’t deserve a major league job if that’s the way he treats it? Well if we’re honest, we all know that none of these guys deserves multiple millions of dollars to play a kids game. But you don’t hold it against them because their personal problems and moral dilemmas have never become so apparent to you.

    What I mean is, players are out cheating on their wives, fathering illegitimate children, drinking and driving, and yes, using and abusing drugs. And getting paid millions for it. No it isn’t right, no it isn’t fair. But you don’t read about each and every one of them, so you feel free to cheer for them, and hope they do well. This guy’s problem becomes public and now he owes you an apology?

    What does he owe us? Honestly? What can he do to make you feel better about his life?

    Well I’ve got a sister-in-law in AA. I can give her a call if you need her to apologize to you too?

  66. Commissioners are like presidents; their job is so huge that it’s impossible to perform without screwing a lot of things up. Every single one was massively flawed.

    But it looks like you’re going at least partially on length of tenure — Landis and Selig are two of the longer-tenured ones, I believe, and Giamatti and Vincent didn’t have quite enough time to screw up or succeed as wildly as they might have otherwise. No?

  67. @74
    again i’m not saying give the man a free pass. he went to treatment, is in recovery both for his physical issues and alcoholism. he has apologized for his behavior, and as a young, talented individual whom the braves felt strongly enough to acquire and invest both their time and money into, he deserves another chance. that all. a chance. so if that is considered a free pass, then he deserves one of those too.

    yes, prado is average at best and is great for mop up duty in a double header. seems like a lower tear team could use him to compliment the rest of their average talent. i think he and thorman should be traded for whatever we can get for them.

    i think tagliabue should have been hired by mlb.

  68. 84. Yes, please have her call Alex.

    I think we have officially taken the addiction theme a little too far now.

  69. I think Aybar can contribut this season. I would hold off on dealind him to Tampa till at least half way through spring training. Lets see what we got before we let a talented player go.

  70. @85 Mac are you saying this because baseball has returned to relevance again on the American sports scene and that MLB revenues are at an all time high? All under the auspicies of one Bud Selig? Ok.

  71. jjschiller-

    I’m really not sure how you expect me to respond to people’s family members. I think people are taking their arguments too personally.

    And did I ASK Willie Aybar to apologize to me? That’s obviously crazy. I said the Braves organization – that’s who made a financial commitment to him, and who he has continually let down with his actions.

  72. BTW y’all because Prado has a career .300 career BA in the minors I bet he gets the nod as the util infielder. Count it.

  73. Continually let down. I think that’s an unfair assessment isn’t it? If he has let them down as much as you think he has, then they would surely have cut the strings by now.

  74. On this issue, I am fine to stand alone, or with only a few others.

    Mike Hampton’s injuries and people getting Cancer or Lupus – those are things out of people’s control.

    It’s not the same as what’s happened w/ Willy Aybar. I also do not feel it’s appropriate to engage people about their own family, only that I am extremely sympathetic to my Bravesjournal friends and would only wish happiness and health to everyone’s family members.

    I am merely engaging a discussion about Willy Aybar.

  75. Aybar should apologize to the Braves organization right after the Braves organization apologizes for making that dumb trade to begin with.

    Well he should get some credit, the Wild Card and Interleague Games have been a huge boost to the game.

    By boost I assume you meant boost to the owner bottom line.

    The Wild Card allow teams to shoot for mediocrity which I’m sure the owners appreciate since mediocrity comes much cheaper than excellence. Now if you are even a little over .500, you are ‘in the wild card’ race and the fans are happy. Interleague? I’d still rather play the other NL teams more often instead.

  76. I don’t think Selig’s success is because of his tenure. The fact is, despite all the whining that goes on, baseball is in great shape, certainly better than the NHL or NBA. Not all of it is Selig’s doing but it’s ridiculous to act as if Selig has ruined baseball. If you look at people like Pete Rozelle or Paul Tagliabure, they are considered successful because the game prospered and people made more money. No one says, well, there were drug problems in the NFL and that’s their fault. Sure, Selig and the owners and the union probably looked away when players were juicing and hitting all those home runs. But so did Rozelle and Tagliabue. As for Landis, he saved baseball I guess after the Black Sox scandal. But he was also a virulent racist (granted, most people were at the time), while under Selig there has been significant progress in hiring minority managers and front office people. Selig has been successful at doing what he was hired to do–make the game more prosperous. Look at all the new ballparks being built; I don’t necessarily consider that a positive achievement for society since most have been built by taxpayers but from baseball’s standpoint, it’s great. Selig has to get some credit for that.

  77. “If he has let them down as much as you think he has, then they would surely have cut the strings by now.”

    That’s what one would think about Pacman Jones and the Titans, too.

  78. By boost I assume you meant boost to the owner bottom line.

    That’s what the Commissioner’s job is, like it or not. That’s true in any sport. Everyone is making more money in baseball. That’s a positive not a negative. And I disagree with your point that the Wild Card encourages mediocrity rather than excellence. Before the Wild Card, there were 4 or 5 teams (including the Braves) that had a legitimate shot at winning the WS. The other teams were essentially farm teams that would dump salary periodically in return for nothing (remember Fred McGriff for Melvin Nieves). The Wild Card actually gives the non-Yankee and Red Sox a reason to hold onto their players. You see very few of those pure salary dumps now–maybe Oakland. As for interleague play, I personally don’t like it, but you can’t say it hasn’t created more interest at least for some series.

    The commissioner is basically the CEO of a corporation, no more no less. From that standpoint, Selig has been a very successful commissioner.

  79. Aybar has definitely let the team down so far, but I am sure that people would be willing to give him a second chance. I am one of them. I hope he does well this year.

    Moving on…Robert I am with you in regards to the wild card. The wild card has brought mediocrity, and I think you are going to see the owners try and expand the number of teams. This has been what every professional sports organization has done. It benefits the owners as they can have more money. It benefits the managers and players as it will be easier for them to make the playoffs. We all know once you get in the playoffs anything can happen (06 Cardinals).

  80. The only two really important things a commissioner has done are (in chronological order):

    1. Landis cleaning up the game in the early twenties;
    2. Chandler going against the owners and backing Rickey in 1946-47.

    Bud’s done some good things, and he’s done some bad things. His biggest plus is that he’s the only commissioner to manage to get a deal signed with the MLBPA without a work stoppage.

  81. Oh, and Mel Nieves wasn’t nothing. He was a top prospect, an A or B+ prospect. (Bill James, or John Sickels, who was working for James at the time, rated Nieves a better prospect than Klesko.) Donnie Elliot seemed to have a reasonable shot at a career.

  82. People complain about the wild card and interleague play but it’s not as if Bud thought of these things out of the blue. They had been discussed as far back as the 40s. (Same with the DH.) Adding playoff teams was inevitable. What bothers me is not the wild cards nearly as much as the additional division. That’s what fosters mediocrity. Remember, the Cards were not a wild card team, they were a “division champion.” IN most cases, the wild card teams are better than at least some of the division champions.

    And you can talk about how expanding the playoffs encourages mediocrity but I can remember back in the sixties when you just had two leagues; this was the most pure system but it could get pretty boring when a team was running away with the pennant in July. (Of course, that system would have been great for the Braves in the nineties.)

  83. Tennessee @98

    The Braves have no where near the same amount of money invested in Aybar as the Titans do in Jones. Although the NFL rules regarding salary cap make it easier to get rid of player, the Titans seem determined to get what they pay for for Jones. Its a shame that the Titans are still holding on to Jones. At least Aybar has shown a willingness to change.

  84. Pacman has changed. He used to fire guns at strippers while making it rain. Now he just punches women in strip clubs. Big difference.

  85. You’re absolutely right Stu. Thanks for making that correction. I had totally forgotten all about his change of ways. Lets hope his improvement develops more rapidly.

  86. My favorite thing about the Pacman saga continues to be the fact that the Titans selected him instead of Antrel Rolle because of concerns about Rolle’s character.

  87. ‘Rissa, thanks for that! Yeah, I couldn’t help noticing that the charter member was Chipper, and then there was Greg Maddux, and in the honorable mentions, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine…

    That’s basically an implicit recognition of the belief within baseball that the Braves’ stars of the past 15 years are clean and always have been. That’s a pretty remarkable statement.

  88. My take on Aybar- if he gets the support that he needs, if the team has people who take an interest in him to help him climb out of addiction, this can work. The example that comes to mind is Koren Robinson, who drank his way out of Minnesota but found renewed success with Green Bay, thanks to the efforts of Brett Favre and others.

    But if you don’t think a utility infielder is worth that kind of effort, then as a practical matter it’s kind of hard to argue.

    Given what Frank Wren must have been drinking to trade for Kotsay, I’m not sure this is the environment where Aybar can succeed.

    Bud’s certainly been a success for baseball- mostly because he no longer tries to fling new bad ideas at us as often as during the ’90s. Baseball is a great game and promotes itself, if the money men can just get out of its way.

  89. I think Prado can play, and I’d like to see him on the team. His defensive rep is good, and he’s shown rock-solid consistency at maintaining high batting averages in the minors despite often being young for the level. He’s useful as a fill-in/defensive replacement at 2B and 3B, and as a pinch-hitter to lead off an inning.

  90. Seriously… Prado doesn’t have the bat for third — he doesn’t come close — so every game he plays in Chipper’s place is a likely disaster. At second base, he’ll only take away PAs from Johnson, whose bat he also can’t replace. He’s like a righthanded Lockhart.

  91. He’s like a righthanded Lockhart.

    Agree, but we suffered through Lockhart and Lockhart-lite (Orr), a guy who could get a hit now and then is welcome even if it is just a single. Gotta grade these backup infielders on a big curve.

  92. Mac, LOL on the Prado comment.

    Alex R, I think a few people are with you on the side of personal responsibility. I cannot believe so many people are stingy about a simple apology.

    I do not hope that Aybar apologizes or has apologized to the Braves b/c he owes them. I hope he apologizes because the action would be representative of the man I hope he is, or at least the man he is trying to become. An apology does not preclude redemption, rather it is a necessary stop along that road.

    Isn’t apologizing one of the 12 steps? I seem to remember a Seinfeld episode with James Spader…

  93. I’m not advocating a platoon — I’m saying he can be a useful bench player, especially on a team that already has a backup shortstop. God forbid Kelly Johnson doesn’t get 750 plate appearances, or that we might want to rest more than one infielder.

    I’ll grant that the Braves may not be the best situation for Prado, because I think he can actually have a career as a starting 2B for somebody. Why are so few people impressed with a guy who can pick it at second base and just finished batting .316 in AAA at age 23?

  94. sansho, thank you very much for your help. I knew somebody here would have the answer. I couldn’t find a reference site that had any info on “non pitchers appearing as pitchers.” Now that I think of it, I guess I could have just looked at the year end stats for pitchers and see who didn’t belong, but you were much much quicker.

    Also, to add to Mac’s point, I believe the Braves gave the Padres their choice of Klesko or Nieves because I believe Nieves was rated higher because of his defense, their bats were equal. That’s just what I remember at the time, so I could be wrong.

    As far as Aybar goes, he’s going to have to do one hell of a job in Spring Training, that’s for sure. I could see Bobby keeping somebody he “trusts” more like Prado, but the fact of the matter is, I think Aybar is the most talented of the backup infielders (unless Lillibridge gets a shot to make the team). If I were another team, I would keep an eye on him during ST and hope that the Braves will deal him for cheap and give the guy a chance.

  95. So there’s a New Hampshire man who is tatooing Tom Brady’s Patriots helmet on his head, complete with the number 12 and the green dot on the back to signify radio contact with the coaching staff. So far he has the logo on the side of his head.

    “He needs radio contact with some common sense.”–Michael Wilbon

    Agreed. Haaa!

  96. Hey, here’s who Jeff Ridgway is:

    “Ridgway gives the Braves another bullpen candidate after pitching most of last season at Triple-A Durham. He went 2-3 with a 3.06 ERA and four saves in 54 games with the Bulls before getting called up to the majors in the final month.

    The 27-year-old Ridgway made three appearances for the Rays, struggling to get anyone out. He allowed seven runs in one-third of an inning for a 189.00 ERA.”
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/baseball/mlb/wires/01/17/2010.ap.bbo.braves.rays.trade.0212/

    Quick work shoring up that bullpen, Frank!

  97. This is a “whatever” trade to me. Someone who probably won’t help the club for the same. If I proven wrong, I’ll be happy; however, I’m not holding my breath.

  98. frank wren seems to be developing the “sell low” gm mentality. what the hell is he doing? first, he trades a guy who has a completely tarnished mlb reputation in devine. then, he trades a decent mlb player in aybar after a year of drug addiction. this is one of those “whatever” trades, but aybar, if clean, had some potential, and we now are going to have to be happy with prado as a backup 3b.

  99. does anyone know about infante’s hand being broken? someone on chop-n-change posted that he might not be ready for opening day. that seems like a long recovery period for a broken hand.

  100. The whole league knew the Braves were going to have to cut Aybar. Wren had to find a team that (a) was fairly certain he’d make their roster, and (b) was willing to take a chance on a guy that was suspended for alcohol/drugs. I’m sure that cut down the number of viable trading partners. Talent for talent not a great trade, but I don’t think you can kill Wren for this one.

  101. apparently we are giving away our young players this year. We are going to be the Giants in a year or two

    Traded away:
    Devine 24
    Ascanio 22
    Aybar 24
    Fontaine 22
    Richmond 21
    2 draft picks for Glavine

    Received:
    Ridgeway 27
    Kotsay 32
    Infante 26
    Ohman 30
    Glavine 42
    Lopez 38

    Great job Wren, when do you think we’ll have enough vet. leadership

  102. Why even make this trade? Ridgeway isn’t very good. And doesn’t we already have like two LOOGY’s for next year?

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Aybar was going to do anything, and Fontain really isn’t all that impressive. But still, why even do this? Does someone see something in Ridgeway that they think could be special?

    Whatever. I’ll choose to just not care at all about this trade; it’s probably irrelevant long-term anyways. Unless like Aybar starts to hit and Chipper gets hurt. Whatever….

  103. From rotoworld:

    Braves acquired LHP Jeff Ridgway from the Rays for infielders Willy Aybar and Chase Fontaine.
    We may not like the move, but at least Ridgway has nowhere to go but up. He allowed seven runs over one-third of an inning in three appearances for the Rays in September. The 27-year-old has pretty good stuff for a left-hander, but he’s battled arm problems and his command is below average. It’s stunning that the Braves would give up two players to get him”

  104. Man, that trade sucks. Is that the best they could get for Aybar and Fontaine? My freaking goodness. I liked Willy Aybar. I used his name today in the Name Game after baseball practice. It’s tough finding people with names that start with W.

  105. DOB on Infante and stuff:

    ONE OTHER THING: Braves just announced that Omar Infante was hit by a pitch this week and has a broken hand, expected to be out until mid-March and questionable for opening day, though they don’t believe it’s serious. He might need minor surgery to put a pin in it, but Wren said it won’t take long to get him in playing shape because he’s played all winter.

    Anyway, this means LILLIBRIDGE and Prado both have legit chances to make the team. Folks, it’s looking like they have plans for Lillibridge, maybe as the other utility guy when Infante gets back.

    ***end DOB quote***

    So… the backup IF we just traded for gets hurt, and Wren’s response is to go out and trade away some of our IF depth…. Weird.

    Hope Infante is back by April.

  106. I guess the thing that bugs me about these trades the most is that it seems like we’re the ones who are adding the “throw-in” player in the deals. I much prefer to be the team that’s recieving the throw-in. (Especially if, as in the past two cases, my instinct was that the swap of the two biggest names for just eachother was already a losing proposition for Atlanta).

  107. great so now we have prado, who is mediocre at best and lillibridge who’s a midget as our reserve infielders, a 27 yrd lefty with a history of arm problems and control issues who will compete with 2 others as a LOOGY. yet another upgrade for a team stuck in neutral. are we actually going to find ourselves yearning for the woodward and orr days? the only thing positive out of this is at least these guys are cheep.
    JS send help!

  108. when a team comes calling for one of your players, you then are suppose to have the upper hand. Why are we giving up two?? Plus getting nothing in return. I’m starting to have a bleak outlook on our future

  109. That’s probably the most the Braves can get now for Ayber. They did not even give the kid a chance to bounce back to sell at a higher price. I guess the Braves really want none of Ayber in the coming spring training.

  110. Stu,

    I think there’s a 3 way deal in the works:

    Tigers get Jurrjens, Hernandez
    Braves get Kazmir
    D-Rays get Renteria, Ridgeway

  111. so exactly how many innings of use did we get out of Baez and Aybar as opposed to the dodgers with Betemit? that was a real gem of a trade.

  112. beedee-

    Not like Betemit has done much since we traded him. At best, we’d have used him to help out at 1B last year, presumably platooning him with Thorman. Maybe we’d have traded for Tex, maybe not. Though I’ll concede that Scott Proctor would be better than Ridgway.

  113. Wren apparently thinks he has to cut minor league headcount.

    Seriously, this isn’t as bad as the Kotsay trade, but that’s not setting the bar real high.

    Apparently, Cox’s anterograde amnesia is contagious; just after trading away a mediocre reliever, he just decided he needed one. I wonder if he now thinks he needs another utility infielder…

  114. I wonder if he now thinks he needs another utility infielder…

    Well we needed a centerfielder, so he traded two young players for a crappy CF including a guy that should have been in the bullpen. Then he announced we need a guy for the bullpen so he traded two young players for a crappy bullpen arm including a guy that should have been a backup infielder. So the next logical(?) step is to announce we need a backup infielder and go trade two more young guys for a crappy older guy. I wonder what part of the team he’ll weaken next.

    I’ll take a guess that Aybar’s sobriety isn’t going so well.

    I would question Frank Wren’s sobriety first.

    Mac really needs to drop everything and get to work on the Wren-devil graphic.

  115. Not like Betemit has done much since we traded him.

    He hit 14 HR, slugged .454, and had a 101 OPS+ last season. Despite the low BA, that’s one hell of a backup infielder by our standards.

  116. I think I am sick to my stomach. Trading away Aybar? The one guy who had a chance to make an impact off the bench (not a certainty by any means, but much better than our other options). And getting who back? This is rediculous! Even if Aybar doesn’t work out for the Rays this is a meaningless trade because the guy we got won’t do a d@mn thing for this club.

  117. I was expecting Aybar to get traded for a nondescript reliever, but I didn’t expect the trade to be this soon and this bad. We can only hope Braves scouts somewhere know what they’re doing in this.

  118. I was optimistic with Wren after the Renteria trade.

    Too bad that the recent trades make it look like that was JS, with Wren looking like a moron.

  119. Robert – Mac really needs to drop everything and get to work on the Wren-devil graphic.

    I vote for the same graphic, only the Orioles instead. Why mess too much with a good thing? Hear that Wren?

    /seriously though, whichever staff person is reading this, y’all stop with the “meh” and “doh” trades already, please.

  120. So the real question is now becoming, is Frank Wren Jim Bowden-esque, or is Jim Bowden Frank Wren-esque?

  121. As much as I dislike these past two moves, let’s be realistic for just a second here. Neither of them are likely to have major implications for the Braves like, ever. Sure, not Devine in the ‘pen could end up costing us like 2-4 games for a few years in an absolute worst-case scenario, but until Wren makes a blunder that really screws the team long-term, let’s just think of him as “mediocre” rather than “Jim Bowden”. :-)

  122. Actually, mraver, this IS Jim Bowdenism at work: making moves, mostly dumb moves, for the sake of making moves.

    That may also explain why he seems to feel compelled to throw in players to get deals done more quickly, even though there’s no reason that the deal can’t wait a week. Or a month. Or forever.

  123. After the Kotsay trade it is hard for me to get upset–but again it looks like the Braves overpaid. I would have thought that Aybar for Ridgeway would have been ok.

    It is true that Fontaine got cut up when he was promoted to the Beach, but I think Sickels probalby had it right when he said (if I remember correctly) that he could still turn into an Adam Kennedy type.

    More generally, the Braves do have lots of young talent at the lower levels of their farm system. If this talent must be used in trades, then I would hope that the Braves use it to trade for significant players. Lets hope that Ridgeway proves to be one of them….

  124. I know it’s gospel that Jim Bowden stinks, but.. I’ll take these two trades over anything we’ve done since the Renteria trade:

    Acquire OF Lastings Milledge from New York Mets for OF Ryan Church and C Brian Schneider

    Acquire OF Elijah Dukes from Tampa Bay Rays for LHP Glenn Gibson

    So in spite of himself, the Nats have had a better offseason than the Braves thus far.

  125. Dang. Why all the hate? Aybar was a goner anyway. He had worn out his welcome last with last seasons debacle. One has to give Wren some credit. Aybar has potential. The fact that Wren felt compelled to get Infante in the deal for Ohman shows that maybe Willy aint attending his meetings. In other words the Braves couldn’t count on him another season. With all the baggage the Braves getting anything for him has to be considered a coup.

  126. I don’t know why they had to trade Aybar right away for such a limited return. Ridgeway just sounds like minor league filler even though the Braves will try to make it sound like he has some potential. Even if JC is right that Aybar’s sobriety is not taking, they could have waited until spring training and see if he shows anything; perhaps his value would be higher and, if not, just cut him. I don’t see the point of making a trade just to make a trade, which is what this seems to be. JC is probably right about the sobriety issue and perhaps the Braves are worried about the PR problem if Aybar does something like kill somebody while high. None of these trades by themselves mean much but they do make you worry about Wren’s thought process.

  127. On second thought, I probably should not have made the sobriety comment. All accounts are that he is playing well this summer, so I suspect he is doing well. It sounds like he is recovering successfully, and that this is just a bizarre move by Wren.

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