Ow

So, I have a new hole in me, but the surgery seems to have been successful. There’s still a little “discomfort”, though the Percoset does a lot for that. The main thing is that I feel very, very weak. The normal description would be “weak as a kitten” but this may be unfair to kittens. I am perhaps rather:

Weak as Gregor Blanco’s arm…
Weak as Andruw Jones’ willpower…
Weak as Mike Hampton’s quads…
Weak as Jeff Francoeur, generally…

You get the idea.

282 thoughts on “Ow”

  1. Mac-You are strong in spirit and you have kept your wonderful sense of humor. I hope that the recovery period is quick….

  2. From the last thread–Mac, glad to hear how it went. In addition to doctor’s orders, may I suggest a steady diet of Pink Floyd to accompany your Percoset. :-)

  3. And for those looking for a reason as to why the Braves “overpaid” for Lowe:

    To get Lowe, Atlanta paid more than they originally desired and some have questioned why the club would “overpay” and provide a four-year contract to a veteran pitcher who will turn 36 in June.

    A simple response would be to say that Lowe was the only remaining available top-caliber pitcher who would provide a chance to be competitive. But more importantly, there would have been no chance to even think of being competitive had Lowe signed with the Phillies or Mets, two of the East Coast-based teams that interested the veteran sinkerballer.

    Motivated by last week’s meeting and under the belief that the Phillies might attempt to create payroll space by trading Brett Myers, the Braves acted quickly and provided an offer that Lowe couldn’t refuse.

    Now 2 things:
    1. This is from Peanut, so I don’t know how much of this is front office BS.
    2. It makes sense to me.

  4. The people who are saying we overpaid are just looking for something to talk about. The Braves did what needed to be done and left room to fill at least one more hole in the roster. If they hampered their competition in the process, then that’s just bonus.

  5. I hear ya, Bethany. Lowe is a good deal, period. Our rotation is rock solid, with a lot of wiggle room. Our pen is the same. Infield? Damn good. Catcher? Done deal. Get an OF bat (or two) before opening day and I like where we sit. There’s little reason to be anything but positive about our team right now.

  6. Another thing that hasn’t really been talked about is the fact that we worked with Boras to get the Lowe deal done. It can only be a good thing, imho, moving forward with the new management. Especially with JJ being a client.

  7. #7–I agree with you about Boras, but I also think that this is lots of front office BS. I think Lowe could have been had for 4/56–which was much more than the Mets offered him and gave him a fourth year–which was apparently the deal clincher. After the Furcal fiasco and the outcry over Smoltz, the Braves were desperate to get a deal done with Lowe and made him an offer that he could not refuse. Given the lack of interest in Lowe, they probably could have been a bit more patient and got him for somewhere in the neighborhood of 4/56.

    That said, the deal is behind us and we will never know what might have been. The remaining issues remain to see how the deal plays out–how much money the Braves can spend and how well Lowe pitches.

    Lets hope for the best….

  8. At a breakfast meeting with a Mets fan this morning.

    “Think you overpaid a little bit for Derek Lowe?”

    “I’d rather overpay for Lowe than pay at all for Oliver Perez.”

  9. Glad to hear it went well. Hang in there Mac. Soon you’ll be as strong as Francoeur’s desire to swing, as hearty as Andruw’s appetite, as…this is depressing.

    We’re all pulling for ya.

  10. Mac – really glad to see you posting so soon.

    Who argued 4/56 for Lowe instead of 4/60? At some point, aren’t we getting a little nitpicky in our criticisms?

  11. Also – RE: Overpaying for Lowe

    What were the publications predicting he would go for at the beginning of the offseason? I know Rotoworld takes a guess. Anyone care to dig that up?

  12. Mac, glad to see you have not lost your sense of humor through all of this! Here’s hoping for the best! I’ve been thinking of you a lot through the last few days!

  13. You might be weak as a kitten, but you’re still sharp as a bowling ball!

    re Lowe: extra cash in exchange for omitting a no-trade clause. You gotta give to get, and obviously we like to have the flexibility to make moves. You hear all the time about teams having to beg a player for a no-trade waiver when they want to get something done.

  14. seems like the front office cant do anything right. i can only imagine the screams, howls and yelps here if Lowe signed with someone else while the Braves were being patient trying to save a few bucks……..desperate times call for desperate measures.

  15. Given the lack of interest in Lowe, they probably could have been a bit more patient and got him for somewhere in the neighborhood of 4/56.

    That amounts to just one million per year less. Not a big deal. If that extra million got the deal done quicker, was the incentive to accept not receiving a no-trade clause and slammed the door shut on the Mets and/or Phillies from getting desperate and more involved; than I think it was worth it.

  16. Mac, very happy everything went well so far. Will all get even better from here!

    Thanks for the Druw interview link. Man-oh-man… this is truly the worst interview I have ever heard. He was in a different land there but sounds like he had a great night before that interview.

    Yes, maybe the Braves have overpaid for Lowe. Doesn’t matter. Had to be done. As Ted Turner always says: You can’t cry over spilled milk.

  17. Dan–I agree with you that one million (which from what we have been led to believe is about 1% of the Braves salary) is probably worth the no-trade contract. At the same time, given the way that the Hampton contract imposed financial constraints on the Braves, I don’t think that the organization can spend the way AL East clubs do.

    I might add that the discussion on the thread yesterday about the possible inability of the Brave to sign a corner outfielder because they now lack the money to make the deal is the other side of the same coin.

    But Timo is correct: we shouldn’t cry over spilled milk.

    If Lowe pitches as well as the Braves hope, then it won’t matter…..

  18. Glad to hear all went well.

    What does everyone think about bringing Andruw back? For or against? What if its only for 1 million for the year, is it worth it then?

  19. I thought DOB said the team that gets him will only pay the minimum $400,000 and that the Dodgers pay the rest of his salary.

    I’d offer him that

  20. Glad to hear you’re okay, Mac.

    The “overpaid for Lowe” crowd are still trying to paint Frank Wren as inept so they can tell us that the Braves had the worst offseason ever. I was livid about losing Smoltz, but signing 3 quality starters without losing Yunel, KJ, Hanson, Schafer, or Gorkys has softened me up a bit. In fact, that’s pretty tremendous considering we’re not the Yankees.

    Our outfield is still potentially the worst in baseball offensively (Francouer being especially offensive on the offensive dept.), but if we make one more trade, I think we’re in pretty good shape.

    Guess I’m ordering the “Extra Innings” package after all…

  21. I’m a little skeptical about the idea that we overpaid Lowe. It’s true that no one else was OFFERING 4 years or $15M per, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have eventually paid it. I think 4/56 would have gotten it done in the end, maybe even 3/48, but those aren’t a whole lot different. In the end, I think it was a good deal, and surely a helluva lot better than what Burnett got. If anything, Wren was in a bad place just being in THAT discussion. Anyhow, someone would have ponied up something close to what we were for Lowe, and if we had to give an extra million per year to get it done now, that’s okay me.

  22. @23 – I’m right there with you Rob. There was no way I was going to order Extra Innings until a few days ago. Now, if for no other reason, I am a bit intrigued.

  23. The thing that hurt us in the past has been trading for people and giving up prospects (dye, wainright, schmidt…..). Also, the people we did get only stayed in ATL temporarily.

    This offseason’s strategy has clearly been to get guys without giving up prospects to hurt us in the long run. It sucks to not get Peavy, but I didn’t want to give any of our bright prospects either. We’ll all be thankful when these young outfielders and Yunel are carrying our offense in a couple of years.

  24. #23 – “I was livid about losing Smoltz, but signing 3 quality starters without losing Yunel, KJ, Hanson, Schafer, or Gorkys has softened me up a bit.”

    I completely agree. Most of us truly thought before the offseason that we’d be rebuilding anyways. Wren got us 3 quality pitchers without giving up any talent other than Flowers. Id say thats pretty solid. Losing Smoltz hurts, but Im over it. I would’ve liked Peavy, but not at the expense of Yunel, Gorkys, and whatever else. I would’ve liked Burnett, but that was truly overpaying for an injury-prone SP. The Lowe deal in my opinion is a lot better deal than the Burnett one

  25. So far I’m still not happy with losing Smoltz, but I’ve got to say that his other moves have probably been better for the Braves than the originals. Peavy would have cost us too many players and his injury potential was high. Burnett also had a pretty high injury potential and the cost was too high. I think Lowe’s injury potential is less than the other guys (although it’s still fairly high given his age) and I don’t think you’ll see a huge difference in performance next year between him and the others. If Wren gets 1 and possibly 2 more impact outfielders (I don’t care if he signs them the day before the season starts), this offseason will have been a roaring success. I’m still not sure about Cox staying on as manager.

  26. The main thing that I have been upset about is the way Wren has handled things, this goes back to last season.

    1) Remember how we couldn’t decide if we were gong to be buyers or sellers? We were looking to move Tex and also looking at Jason Bay.I’m not upset with what we got for Tex, I don’t know if we could have done much better. Lots of rumors said that Bay was a done deal and then at the end it fell through. I know those are just rumors, but it was the start of things to come. It also showed me thet that Wren couldn’t decide and kind of looked like he didn’t know what he was doing.

    2) The Peavy deal. I think this board was solit down the middle on this one, mostly due to Escobar deing in it. However, the front office and Peanut sort of put off the vibe that it was a done deal. Then rumors started flying that Peavy didn’t want to come. Now, I hope Escobar doesn’t pout about the thought of being traded. The front office should have been a little more quiet about this.

    3) Furcal. I know the agents kind of screwed us on this one, but the front office should have never let word get out about this. Then they turned around and sounded like a bunch of 6th graders. None of this would have gone down if JS was GM.

    4) Smoltz. The whole thing was not done well. I don’t blame Wren for all of this, McJerk’s comments that day were poor.

    I do like the pitchers we picked up, but we still have a lot of work to do. I think with a bat or two this could be a very good team. We really are in tough spot this season. I think we could possibly make the playoffs this year and I have alway been of the opinion that if you have a shot, you go for it.

    Is Wren going to go with what we have and make a move in June? Will he sign someone this winter? Or is this him just not being able to decided which way to go?

  27. Smitty, I think that they we’re deciding between buying and selling before Huddy went down. After that they tossed in the towel on the season. They moved Tex for a 1B, maybe should’ve taken the draft picks, but we have no one close and I dont think they wanted to have to worry about that this offseason also.

    #2-3, yeah too much info got out on those

    Im fairly happy with the deals Wren has actually completed so far. Kotsay for Devine will hurt, but I think Bobby wouldnt have ever trusted him and Devine needed a new place to pitch

  28. I’m not sure what it means to overpay someone. Is Alex Rodriguez overpaid? It seems one could make that argument, especially if that one were a Yankees fan.

    Seems to me that the Braves went in to the off season set on reshaping the staff by adding a power pitcher; once that didn’t work, they opted for durability and overall competence. Given the problems we’ve had the last couple of years, maybe this should have been their plan all along. I think Wren deserves some credit for holding on to our top prospects–that’s how the teams who have the most recently have had success. It still hurts me that we lost Smoltz, though.

    Mac, glad to hear the surgery went well. Hopefully, later on we’ll all be able to describe these post-surgery hours as the brief period when you were as weak the Phillies’ starting pitching, weak as the Marlins’ offense, weak as the Mets’ entire team . . . well, I hope you’re not that weak.

    Keep convalescing!

  29. csg,

    I’m with you, the being unable to decide is what got me.

    I wish we could have kept Kotsay. I think when he was healthy, he played fairly well for us.

    I think Wren would offer up our top prospect, and maybe has, but I am sure he would call DOB and tell him who he was trading, then the deal would fall through.

  30. I’ve figured it out.

    I’ve been wavering awhile on the approach that I think the Braves should take to complete the offseason. Obviously, the main step is, as Wren has said, to acquire on OF bat.

    I’ve jumped around on potential options a bit, but I think Ludwick of St. Louis might make the most sense. Granted he’s likely to have some regression from this, but, he should still be MUCH better than anything we have, his free agent timetable should coincide with Heyward’s ascension, and he’s a legit 4 hitter behind Chipper (something that neither Nady nor Swisher is)

    Obviously this is variant on the price for him, but I wouldn’t balk at sending KJ in a deal. They are both first time arb eligible so money wouldn’t be an issue, and IMO, Lucwick brings more to the table.

    The main problem that jumps out then is the hole at 2nd base. Which is funny because (arguably) the best free agent left on the market is a second baseman. As Neyer puts, 2 years @ 20 MM might get it done. Especially when the only other alternative is the Natspos.

    The rosterbation would then look like this .

    1. Husdon – 2B – S
    2. Escobar – SS – R
    3. C. Jones – 3B – S
    4. Lukwick – LF – R
    5. McCann – C – L
    6. Kotchman – 1B – L
    7. Francoeur- RF – R
    8. AJ/Blanco/Schafer/Anderson – CF – L/S/S/L

    One thing to note is that the defense at every position except RF (and possibly 3B and C) would be spectacular. The lineup would be balanced. Also, according to Stu’s figures, the payroll would be probably around 95 MM.

    There it is.

    And Mac, glad you’re doing well. None of this would be any fun otherwise.

  31. I will say it has shaped up better than I thought it would, but i am still furious over the smoltz thing. I dont care, you find a way to get the guy a couple extra million after all he has done for this franchise. I think John should have been a bit more loyal, but when it comes down to that little amount, the club should give in due to the fact that he has been our guy for 20 years, a fan favorite, and a stud and if anyone can come back from that surgery, its john smoltz. Thats one thing that will always sting.

  32. Ha..that made me laugh Kyle. Mac, careful with those Percosets, I work as a medic, and I see people get hooked on those all the time. If you have any questions about anything anytime, email me, I’ll be happy to answer.

    I still think the Braves should sign Andruw, but only for the minimum, maybe with alot of incentives. It wouldnt cost us players, like it would for Nady or Swisher.

  33. Folks, NOBODY is paying Andrruw more than minimum now. The only way a team can throw anything extra in the deal would be a vesting option for another year. It doesn’t help Andruw for them to offer more money (well, maybe on pride) and he is a big risk.

    I think Andruw wants a major league roster spot parly for pride and partly to increase the chance he makes an opening day roster. This si one thing the Braves are concerned about. However, he would be better to play up the road in Gwinett (or at somebody else’s AAA or AA) than to sit on the bench at ML level.

  34. Oh BTW if any of you Atlanta based posters are interested, I am coming out of retirement for one night only at the Star Bar this evening. I am sitting in for a friend with a sort of Buck Owens/Merle Haggard honky tonk act. I’ve got rust on my rust, but my trusty ’53 Telecaster still sounds killer.

  35. There’s no place on the roster for Andruw unless Diaz goes away.

    Lowe
    Vazquez
    Jurrjens
    Kawakami
    Reyes or Morton or Glavine
    Gonzalez
    Soriano
    Moylan
    Acosta
    Campillo
    Boyer
    Ohman or Logan
    Blanco or Anderson
    Escobar
    Chipper
    Left Fielder
    McCann
    Francoeur
    Kotchman
    KJ
    Ross
    Norton
    Infante
    Prado
    Diaz

    Do Blanco or Anderson have options left?

  36. #44 – what if Druw is the left fielder? My fear with Andruw is if they sign him they’ll stop looking for a bat hoping that he and Frenchy return to average

  37. Eight Teams Call About Andruw

    1. Buffalo Bisons
    2. Toledo Mud Hens
    3. Saitama Seibu Lions
    4. Gwinnett Braves
    5. Hiroshima Carp
    6. New Orleans Zephyrs
    7. Chunichi Dragons
    8. San Diego Padres

  38. Mac,

    Depending on where your wound site is, Aleve may actually work better. It would depend on whether your wound is over a muscle or bone…..

  39. HTW at 44,

    Before last year, Blanco had never been up. he has two option years left.

    Anderson came up late for Houston in 07, but I don’t know if that was his first trip. If he came up after September 1, then that year doesn’t count. He should have two option years left.

    These “must be on 40 man”, “must be on 25 man”, “have options”, questions are the hardest to figure out even when it is the team you follow. When analyzing possible trades, it gets way more complicated.

  40. #49 – I don’t remember anyone ever making it through the “temple” on “Legends of the Hidden Temple” or through the virtual reality thing at the end of “Nick Arcade.” Those games were rigged, man.

    I only had faith in the Aggro-Crag. “Now let’s send it over to Mo to see the results, MO!!!”

  41. On the Cardinals outfielders:

    They have 2 righthanded hitting outfileders other than Ludwick that played some ML last year. Ivanhoa and Brian Barton (they also have a Brian Barden that is an infielder. Can you imagine Skip geting hold of that). Both were 26 last year and playred college ball. Ivanhoa’s offense looks like a lower batting average / higher ISO version of Diaz (in other words, no walks, but contributes). Barton has a better walk rate, but ISO is fringy.

    Neither of these guys is top tier, but IF you got Ankiel and one of them, they boht look (offensively) to be better than anybody we had last year above Rome except for Gorkys and Schafer.

    With Rasmus coming on, the Cards wil move an outfielder before spring training ends. They need pitching. They don’t need KJ any more.

  42. @54

    Who is their second baseman then? The Cubs signed Aaron Miles.

    Adam Kennedy? He seems like a nice complementary part, but the dude couldn’t even hit a .700 OPS last year.

    I’m not saying we don’t have tradeable pitching or shouldn’t use it to try to get Ludwick, but we heard they were interested in KJ earlier and since they filled their SS hole, it seemed like a place to start.

    I’m down for whatever reasonable package that gets a deal done.

  43. I rather liked the last two signing but still think Wren is an idiot. I think that because of the larger body of work–meaning: the persistent mediocrity–the ways he’s bitched to the media about players and agents and all those mean people he has to engage in his work, and the fact that he alienated not one but two future Hall of Famers. Ultimately, I think folks are presenting a false binary here: one could be ok with these signings but not be impressed overall. After all, we’re still three starting outfielders short of solid roster. Blanco and Anderson and Francoeur do not a winning record make.

  44. Here’s a bizarre situation… I was thinking about my 44 Greatest series. I usually do an update after the season, but I didn’t this time. And I just realized that I have to address Mike Hampton, because he’s made the starts cutoff. His 85 starts are just six less than Charlie Leibrandt. And his winning percentage as a Brave was .585, which is better than Smoltz’s or Hudson’s or Leibrandt’s.

  45. @57 – I still don’t see where the “larger body of work” is bad at all. Like Mac said, JS bitched all the time. Other than that, all I have seen is a good ability to make deals when they are needed, and not make deals when they are insane (i.e. the Peavy deal). The only time I ever got upset with Wren is when Smoltz left, and while I still think it could have been handled differently, I no longer hold him completely accountable (I think John really wanted to leave). The only deal that seems to be iffy would be the Devine for Kotsay deal. That Jurrjens and Gorkyz deal was a piece of work. And this offseason has been great considering what all had befallen him early on.

  46. I saw this earlier on DOB’s blog. Apparently Frank Wren was on XM satellite radio yesterday and said a lot of things on a bunch of different topics. Here is one:

    Jeff Francoeur: staying in the outfield, there was discussion of Frenchy’s past production and the outlook for this season. Wren stressed that most young ballplayers need 3-4 years to adjust to the major league setting offensively. He said both Frenchy and Casey Kotchman are at the point in their career where this year would be very telling of their future productiveness. Wren said Jeff has worked hard this winter and sounded optimistic that he’d turned around his attitude and improved at the plate.

    http://tinyurl.com/8gevob

    Great news! Francoeur is only 100 games and another 300 PAs from having it all figured out! This is the year.

    I’m out.

  47. Mac, glad to see that didn’t remove the biting sarcasm. FWIW my analgesic of choice comes in six packs.

    I was feeling pretty good until someone mentioned our starting outfield. Good Lord. My 14 year old daughters can hit harder than those guys. At least in Wii sports they can.

    Mac, How about a sign Andruw poll?

  48. Trouble with the 40 man is that you’d expect Hanson and Schafer to be added to it at midseason as well.

    If we are to get Andruw, it would require the left fielder to be acquired by trade I would think.

    Also, one of those 8 teams has to be the Marlins. Not because of any history he has with Fredi Gonzalez, but because he’ll cost the minimum. No way the Marlins pass that up.

  49. #53

    I remember a few teams making it through. What always tripped people up was following the route instructions when all you had to do was backtrack after getting the prize thingie. I totally would’ve killed on that show

  50. @53 and 68

    What always pissed me off with that show was when the kids couldn’t put the Shrine of the Silver Monkey together. I mean, come on! Its only three pieces. How hard could it have been?

  51. Dan–Thanks for posting the Andruw interview–which was pretty sad listening.

    With respect to Frenchy, I think you predicted it quite well: his numbers will come up some and they will say “Frenchy is back”….

    I certainly hope that Wren is posturing to try to make Frenchy appealing to some other team, but I doubt it….

  52. Oh, I’m not sure if this has been mentioned on here, but don’t type in “Tommy Hansen” on Wikipedia when you are trying to search for our “Tommy Hanson.” The “o” is a very important letter in that name. Just trust me on this one.

  53. Sorry if the Frenchy interview link had already been posted before.
    I thought his assessment at minute 4:20 is interesting. He claims his first and last 40 games of the season weren’t “that bad”, just the the three months inbetween “killed him”… yeah, right.
    Then again, way better than Anruw’s interview.

    http://www.newsradio540.com/cc-common/mediaplayer/player.html?redir=yes&mps=wdak1.php&mid=http://a1135.g.akamai.net/f/1135/30363/1h/cchannel.download.akamai.com/30363/1125/richmedia/1-15-09_Jeff_Francoeur.mp3?CCOMRRMID=24319827&CPROG=RICHMEDIA&MARKET=COLUMBUS-GA&NG_FORMAT=newstalksports&NG_ID=wdak540am&OR_NEWSFORMAT=&OWNER=1125&SERVER_NAME=www.newsradio540.com&SITE_ID=1125&STATION_ID=WDAK-AM&TRACK=francoeur_interview_from_office

  54. With respect to Frenchy, I think you predicted it quite well: his numbers will come up some and they will say “Frenchy is back”….

    Yep.

    Francoeur isn’t going to be good, but he’ll bring his OPS up to around .740 (.300 OBP/.440 slugging) with some 2-out RBIs and the media will subsequently spill a lot of ink declaring he’s back to his old, great self. But to be fair, they’ll be partially right since Frenchy did set the bar so low in 2006 and 2008 (which is mostly the reason why everyone thinks his 2007 was so great.)

  55. And having seen Frenchy come ‘back’ in 2009 the Braves will be happy to let him play 162 games in RF in 2010….

  56. Now that the conversation has returned to Francoeur, I believe I can defend my ‘larger body of work’ comment…

    Right now, the Braves are starting two of the worst regulars in major league baseball–Francoeur and Kotchman–and it’s possible that two OTHER positions (LF, CF) will produce even less than the output produced by those two guys. Kotchman can rebound a bit and become a marginally decent 1B, and Francoeur can almost make it back to league average, but none of this speaks well of Wren.

    And yes, you can bitch to the media when you have a reputation for winning–and for being right. That’s the key.

  57. Adam-

    Talk about “stars and scrubs”. Frenchy and Kotchman in the bottom 3 at their position for the league, Chipper and BMac in the top 3…. Escobar and KJ should be above-average, so if we can get just AVERAGE production from CF and LF, we’ll have an overall average offense. Put that together with a top-teir (but probably not blows-everyone-away) pitching staff, and this team could sneak into the playoffs. Maybe as a wild card?

  58. I have a feeling I’m in the minority, but I think the team, as it’s constructed now, could actually win the NL East if the team gets career norms out of most of the players, although with the question marks in the OF it is a big IF.

    Speaking of the OF I’d rather see a Norton/Diaz platoon in LF (106/118 career OPS+ platoon split, respectively) and replace Francoeur with Dye or Abreu. Or even Maggs (squeee!)…but that is the pipeiest of pipe dreams.

    The rotation may not have a marquee pitcher like Hamels or Santana, but I think 1 to 5 it’s potentially stronger than the rest of the division.

  59. I have a feeling I’m in the minority, but I think the team, as it’s constructed now, could actually win the NL East

    Winner, Undestatement of the Year, and we are only in January. Kudos, young man, kudos.

  60. Pie to the O’s. Would have been a nice defensive CF for ATL with a chance to break out offensively. Shame.

  61. LOL @ 86!

    Maybe I’m overly optimistic because I just ate some cookies…?

    In all seriousness, I really do think that. The Met’s offense, as it’s constructed now, is almost as questionable as Atlanta’s in my opinion. And unless Utley pulls a Smoltz and makes a freakishly quick comeback they are a significantly weaker team (than they were last year) until June.

  62. @84

    I just don’t see us getting average production out of CF and LF. I truly hope we do–in fact, I hope we sign Dunn or deal for a slugging corner outfielder–but right now I don’t see anything even remotely average about our offense. Remember last year: three very good hitters (two great, one good) was easily balanced out by the horrible outfield. We need to add two good hitters and get better seasons from Francoeur and Kotchman. But no playoffs unless we get that.

  63. Yeah, Mac, I think Hampton is a special case. Definitely hurt the team more than helped.

    Glad to hear your surgery went well and you’re back okay.

  64. I feel much better about Kotchman than Francoeur in 2009. Like Jeffy, Kotchman’s best ML season was 2007, but he was a .325/.401/.493 hitter in the minors. He has a history of not sucking. Francoeur’s career minor league line is .285/.328/.480, and his best year in the majors is only a bit better than Kotchrocket’s career ML average. I’m preaching to the choir, I know…

  65. I think Mac’s right. Kotchman had an OBP of over .400 in the minors. His walk rate went up when he got to the Braves. As long as Pendleton tells him to take his walks, I think he’ll be fine.

    The three outfield spots are the worry. Hopefully left will get fixed this offseason and Schafer gets the call quickly.

  66. @82 – I don’t see where you can blame Wren for Frenchy’s suckage. It is Bobby who refuses to take him out of the lineup, and for all we know has told Wren that he wants to use him. He did botch the minor league scenario, but only that he brought him back up. He should have left him there. But again, I bet Cox had alot to do with that as well.

  67. @95 – Buck has to stop somewhere – Wren is Cox’ boss. If he lets Bobby bullyrag him into poor decisions, that’s just as much his choice as doing the right thing.

  68. I don’t mind missing out on Pie. Cubs prospects have a recent history of underperforming expectations. (Angel Guzman, Corey Patterson, Roosevelt Brown, Ronny Cedeno…) Other than Geovany Soto — and the always-injured Rich Hill, I guess — their prospects have not tended to pan out. Pie was promoted very aggressively. He may well live up to his potential and the great numbers he was putting up in half-seasons in AA and AAA, but I’m more willing to believe he’ll become the next Corey Patterson than the next Jim Edmonds.

  69. First of all “Cubs prospects don’t usually pan out” really isn’t the sort of argument I expect from you AAR – past performance/future gains, correlation != causation, etc. Sceondly, the point is that Pie is an excellent centerfielder right now, with a decent chance to be a better than average offensive CF. If we aren’t going to sign OF’s on the FA market, then it is incumbent to get in on the Swishers and Pies of the world to try field a decent team next season.

  70. @98 – I don’t think a center-fielder is our greatest need right now. We need power and we need lots of it (of which Pie would not give). And we also have 2 very good center fielders in our farm system, 1 of which could be up before mid-season next year. Again, let’s not make a deal for the sake of making one. We need to make a deal that will help fill some holes.

  71. Pie outhit Schafer in the minors and is a better defender. But that’s not the point – I am not talking Pie specifically, I am talking about buy low opportunities (Swisher, Burrel) that we don’t seem to be getting in on. If Pie pans out great, you’ve got a nice problem on your hands, and it’s not like our CF offense was all that anyway, and he is a fine defender to put behind your new pitching staff. You can trade him if you like, or trade one of the other guys.

  72. Whether Pie outhit Schafer in the minors was not my point. My point is that our biggest need is not a center-fielder that cannot hit for power. Not saying we couldn’t use him, but we have much more pressing needs to be met. Why waste the prospects on getting Pie over here when we need those prospects for a trade on a power-hitting OF. Swisher would have been nice, but I believe he wasn’t looking for a trade for an outfielder early on in case he needed those prospects in a trade for a SP. Alot of things are considered when doing this.

  73. Because
    A: He didn’t cost much
    B: If we don’t get our “big bat” we will at least take an affirmative step in improving the offense, and potentially a large one
    C: Getting Pie would not have cost anything that would have been involved in getting said “big bat” (which I’ll believe when I see). The one doesn’t preclude the other, and in fact, a GM is SUPPOSED to do more than one thing at a time.

  74. @103 – agreed. But you must also know which prospects are going to be demanded from another team in a bigger/better trade before trading them away on another deal. Especially in a situation like that of Peavy where they were looking at SEVERAL prospects.

  75. I am talking more in line with the time of the Swisher deal than I am for the Pie deal there. But again, I just don’t see Pie being that much of a help over our current options.

  76. Pie outhit Schafer in the minors, but that’s largely a result of playing in the PCL and having only 59 games in the Southern League. Schafer has never played in a good hitting environment.

  77. Pie has fallen on his face everytime he was in the MAJOR LEAGUES, you know where it counts. He was so bad the Cubs picked up Jim Edmonds who was doing his best Andruw Jones impression with the Padres.

  78. Re: #93
    “We’re supposed to be good, but will end up terrible.”

    Metropolitan Gag-O-Rama, Pt. 3? I’ll sign for that.

    Re: Frenchy
    If he gets some GW hits, I’ll take it—hard to be optimistic.

    Other than that, until I have to actually watch him, I don’t want to entertain too many thoughts about #7. I’m not going to ruin what expects to be a good week.

    Mac,
    Glad to hear you seem to have come through alright.

  79. Pie outhit Schafer in the minors and is a better defender

    I’ve always heard that Schafer’s defense was the most evolved part of his game. Is that comment based upon anything more than your opinion?

    Overall, I think Joshua addressed the whole issue pretty well. Pie isn’t enough of an upgrade over current options to warrant the cost. (even if it isn’t substantial)

  80. Oh smitty, he had 250 ABs and gotten jerked around the whole time.

    Mac, you are right, but his PCL numbers were posted when he was young for that league – you can’t just dismiss them out of hand. In any event this is all sort of tangential to the larger point I was making that we don’t seem to be very good at getting in on player opportunities that are apparent bargains this year that would improve the club and hedge against something big not getting done wrt to the OF.

  81. Ethan –

    Sure. Pie is a plus defender in the bigs TODAY.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=3751&position=OF

    Schafer is not. You can’t just presume he can play at this level.

    But you know, cool. Hope we get Swisher for Prado or something, and if not, well what the hell, we tried, right? There is no reason to look to improve the team other than getting a RH power hitter, so let’s not bother with anything else.

  82. If he was the second coming like the Cubs thought he was, 250 AB’s should have been enough to do something.

  83. @112 – I wasn’t dismissing your point entirely. I know exactly what you are getting at, but at the same time it seems too many people want to make deals just to make them. I already said a Swisher deal would have been great. And I would love to upgrade in other areas than just a RH power hitter (i.e. I would love to get an upgrade for Frenchy). But again, saying someone got Pie cheap so we should have done it is like saying someone got Varitek for cheap so we should have (obviously a hypothetical situation). Pie just doesn’t help our club much as it is currently constituted.

  84. Pie would have been completely redundant on this team. He’s not that much better than Blanco and/or Anderson, and he doesn’t have the upside of a Jordan Schafer. The Orioles gave up a useful bullpen arm/back-of-the-rotation starter and a prospect, which I’d just as soon keep if I’m the Braves. No reason for the Braves to be interested in him at all, IMO.

    Also, saying that Pie has outhit Schafer in the minors is over-simplistic. At this point, Schafer is a much better prospect (and that’s really how you’ve got to treat Pie) than Pie.

  85. smitty-

    If 250 ABs was enough to draw any real conclusions about a player, Frenchy would still be “The Natural”.

    I like the acquisition for the Orioles, but I don’t think it would’ve been a useful move for the Braves.

  86. @112

    Actually, after looking at it, his metrics suggested he was a little below average last year.

    I’m not saying he wouldn’t have had value, just that it would have been marginal to the current options. And that isn’t even considering the cost of the players traded for him.

    You do bring up an interesting point though in referencing the translation of defensive capabilities from the minors to majors.

    I’ve always assumed that it was a fairly consistent translations. That is, if a player was a defensive stud in the minors, he would be one in the majors.

    My own internal logic says this makes sense, but I was wondering if anyone had heard of any research done in this area?

  87. I only think Kotchman is viewed as inferior because he is not the protopycal first baseman (i.e. power hitter). I think the best we can hope from him is Adam Laroche type numbers (.280 20 75). IF and its a big IF, we can get good production from the rest of the lineup, I dont see him being a big drag on the offense. However, if we suck as bad as last year, and Chipper and McCann supply all the offense, Kotchman could pull a 50HR season and it wouldnt matter. All I am saying is, judge the player on what he his, not what his position normally produces….

  88. Spike, I’ll readily admit that I may be falling into a lazy correlation/causation trap. But the Cubs have done a very poor job of developing their prospects in recent years. My impression, which I admit is casual, is that they’ve fallen into a habit of rushing their best prospects, and those prospects seem to miss expectations rather badly.

    That’s not to say that Pie will inevitably fail to be a good player, but if the Cubs say a guy’s going to be amazing, I’ve learned to doubt it. Their minor leagues have not done a great job at producing good players — and that’s not necessarily just a correlation.

  89. AAR, adding to your fact is that Dusty and Lou have huge preference in veterans over prospects. Of course, Soto has been an exception.

  90. While I believe Schaefer is probably better than Pie, lets wait until he plays another season ‘without assistance’ and see how he does.

  91. To my European friends, who often attempt to convince me that top-level rugby is more violent & dangerous than NFL football:

    No, it’s not.

    BTW, Flacco’s had a great year—an NFL QB’s job is to win the game, period— but he benefits greatly from a terrific defense and low offensive expectations. His job is to not lose the game. Tonight, he didn’t succeed.

  92. ububba…you have to take a lood at the Australian style of rugby…

    …I think the knock against NFL football will always be the equipments which the players are entitled to wear.

  93. kc,
    I’ve seen ’em all. You don’t get the same calibre of athlete playing that game. And those equipments are weapons, not always protection.

    I’m not saying that ruggers aren’t tough; they are. I’m just saying that in NFL football you get lots of Jack Tatums & Ronnie Lotts. Go over the middle at your own risk.

  94. ububba, when I said “knock”, I mean it’s the “perception” other people have on NFL football without understanding the sport.

    At the end of the day, they are all pretty tough…but I don’t think they play rugby during the middle of winter like the NFL…maybe I am wrong since I never follow rugby…

  95. A line like this, with a productive OF bat to go with it would be more than adequate at first….

    137 443 64 131 37 3 11 68 53 43 2 4 .296 .372 .467 .839 (Kotch’s 07 stats)

    I think that Kotchman ranks in the bottom three because of the position that he plays. I think we all would have been pleased to get that out of ONE of our outfielders last year.

  96. Florida, just because that line is better than any of our outfielders last year really means nothing. That outfield last year is one of the reasons why we finished in fourth place. If the team is going to be competitive this year, the Braves will need a better line from Kotch than the one he posted in 2007.

  97. I played rugby in college, and imho the violence just doesn’t lend itself to an apples to apples comparison. There is no analogue in rugby to getting hit by a helmet propelled by a Lawrence Taylor type. Similarly, a full speed face on face collision is a not uncommon, excruciatingly painful event in rugby. Football is a car wreck – rugby is a gang fight.

  98. Actually, the other probably more salient point is that football has become a game of extreme specialization. Rugby players generally stay on the pitch the entire game, playing both ways as it were, without the constant starting and stopping of football. The relentless pounding of a match is simply not replicated in football. You may not get the Darryl Stingley shot, but everybody is going to get quite a few hard licks laid on them.

  99. Since Kotch is our everyday first baseman, I don’t there there is an alternative at all…wait…Bobby may find a way to form a Kotch/Norton platoon!

  100. Did anyone hear the Steelers/ Ravens game? I heard it on the radio and I have to say that it was really hard to listen to Dennis Green. He had some decent insight, but he sounded like Kermit the Frog with a cold.

  101. Speaking of Foghorn Leghorn, what has become of the wonderful, classic, timeless Looney Tunes cartoons?

    The harshly-drawn crap that passes for animation these days isn’t worth pausing long enough to change the channel.

    South Park, though brilliant, isn’t anything I’d let the kids watch and the rest of it seems to have been imagined by some undersexed Japanese nerd in a 10′ x 10′ Tokyo box.

  102. I don’t think we missed an opportunity with Pie.

    I am cautiously optimistic that Kotchman will be better–that is he has a chance to be an average/better than average hitter with a good glove.

    Not exactly what you would want for a 1B and it wouldn’t matter that much if we could get production from the outfield.

    Yeah, its fun to believe that we will compete with the Mets and World Champion Phillies, but with the worst outfield in baseball, its little more than fantasy.

    There is still time for the Braves to change this situation….

  103. If Morton can develop further, you might be right….

    That said, I still think that we need more firepower….

  104. We will never get Manny–and he would piss us from time to time, but he would also bring the fire that has been missing from so many of Bobby’s clubs….

  105. smitty, I don’t see how this offense can score 4 runs a game…I am assuming Chipper and McCann each plays 3/4 of the season…

    …if we didn’t sign Lowe, I think we do have the budget to sign Manny, and I would rather sign Manny than Lowe.

    Stephen, I think the chance of Kotchman having a good season is much better than Frenchy given the minor league track record. That means we need Schafer to develop quickly and Wren finds a decent bat for leftfield, which I don’t think none among Swisher or Nady or Dunn or even Burrell before he signed with the Rays is adequate.

    That’s how much of a liability Frenchy is in my mind. I really hope he rebounds because the Braves aren’t going anywhere without a good season from him.

  106. Well, Stephen, at least he will be very entertaining to watch! An offense with Chipper, Manny, and McCann in the middle of the order is awesome to watch.

  107. I don’t agree with Manny over Lowe at all. What, do you want to be the Texas Rangers? Hitting over pitching is never good – unless you have enough good pitching (which we didn’t have until we got Lowe).

  108. KC–I think Schafer needs a decent amount of time in AAA. He finished AA well, but did not exactly rip the covers off the ball in the Mexican League.

    I think that the earliest we will see him would be mid-summer….

    We need at least two credible outfield bats. I could live with Blanco/Anderson if we had an LF and a RF who could hit. Sadly, we have neither….

  109. #145–I agree: I would not take Manny over Lowe, but the time has come to be decisive with the outfield….

  110. Honestly, I never believe there is even an 1% chance that Manny will come to Atlanta. So, I am just saying that from a fantasy point of view. Can’t hurt to dream, right?

    I also think we need to play it safe with Schafer as we can see there are two glaring weaknesses in his game already (K and hitting against lefties). I don’t want to see another Frenchy in the outfield.

    I have said we need two big bats since last october…this team has so many holes (the health of the bullpen is also a big concern), I am just glad that Wren has spent most of the budget on FA and we have not lost much of our trading chips.

  111. KC–Despite the loss of Smoltz, I an not unhappy about the where we stand for the offseason.

    I mentioned that we needed 3 starters and two corner outfielders. To my surprise, we have the first part of that list achieved. Now, I think that we will get an LF, but after that I don’t see the Braves getting an RF….

    Still, a good RF bat and we will have come a long way….

  112. That’s why I said the team needs Frenchy to turn around in order for the team to be competitive. There is no way to get around it as long as we are stuck with him.

    I guess we are seeing the same problems, that’s why I like your idea of trading Frenchy and Kotch for Swisher and Nady plus signing Dunn. However, I don’t see that happening.

  113. You have a good memory! I don’t see it happening either.

    I think that the Braves will pick up an LF and we have a good chance to be competitive–which is a lot more than I can say for 2008.

    But the real fun should come in 2010 when Hudson should return and Schafer and Hanson should be ready.

    As for Frenchy, I am hoping that he can at least put up his 2007 numbers, but that is probably aiming too high….

  114. Why would the Yankees trade a good, young 1B and a useful RF for a good, young 1B and a useless RF?

    At this point, we have some useful players who can play corner OF. We don’t have anyone who will be a star out there, but if we can get useful seasons out of two of Brandon Jones, Matt Diaz, Gregor Blanco, and/or Josh Anderson, we’ll be in pretty good shape. Adding Dunn or Abreu or something would make this all a lot easier, but for this team to be competitive in 2009, there has to be some amount of internal solution.

  115. mraver…you really have high hope on this internal options! Except Brandon Jones, we pretty much know what the best they are capable of…

  116. #153–The Yanks have just picked up Tex and the word out of NYC was that they were looking to move Nady or Swisher. Obviously, we would have to give up quite a bit more: Prado, Soriano and a couple of mid-level prospects(or some other combinaton)–but this is the hot stove so one can indulge a bit!

    Otherwise, yes an ‘internal option’ would be nice–but when you have the worst outfield in baseball, its asking for a lot. Basically, we have lots of 4th and 5th outfielders….

    It looks like the Braves have given up on Brandon Jones or I think we wear talk about a Jones/Diaz platoon….

  117. It went very well, thanks for asking, Url – it was a most pleasant way to pass an evening, I was even more satisfied that time had not completely eroded my skill set.

  118. Many a fine evening has been spent at the Star Community Bar, always a great place to plop down when I was visting the ATL.

    One comes to mind during the ’95 WS: Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men with opening act The Diggers.

  119. It’s not having “really high hopes” to think that there’s a chance Matt Diaz can come back healthy and mash lefties. It’s not having “really high hopes” to think that Josh Anderson can play plus defense in CF and get on base enough to not completely sink the lineup.

    If Brandon Jones can OPS .800-.850 against RHP and give us a decent platoon option in LF with Diaz, and Anderson/Blanco/Schafer can put up acceptable numbers in center (and the bar there is set REALLY low), I think the offense has a real shot to be league average. It won’t be elite, and the pitching will have to carry the team, but with all of the additions we’ve made there, as well as the quality arms we’ve got in the ‘pen/minors, I think it’s possible that the Braves end up ranked in the top 5 in run prevention. You do that and you don’t need an elite offense.

    Anyhow, I’m probably looking at this team through rose-colored glasses, and I’d certainly be happier if we added an every-day bat (rather than an Xavier Nady type). But having Chipper Jones and Brian McCann on your team covers up a lot of blemishes offensively.

  120. “But having Chipper Jones and Brian McCann on your team covers up a lot of blemishes offensively.”

    it doesnt when they’re not in the lineup (which will probably be an average of at least 1 every 5 games).

  121. Funny you should mention that, ububba – two of the group I was sitting in with were Digger alumni – Ted Weldon (frontman) and Joe Hamm(drums)

  122. For me, there is no nice-talking our current outfield. Unless we are signing another bat, we will have the worst run production outfield in all of baseball. Can defense, infield offense and pitching make up for this to make it to the postseason? I don’t think so.

  123. This is an interesting item from John Sickles. Delgado isn’t a player I was familiar with.

    Randall Delgado, RHP, Atlanta Braves
    A Panamanian signed in 2006, Delgado made his North American debut in 2008, posting an excellent K/IP ratio for Danville thanks to his 90-94 MPH sinker. He has the size and physical projectability to throw harder as he fills out his frame, which might give him an elite fastball in time. His breaking ball and changeup are erratic, though both have promise, and his command needs work: his walk rate was too high. But for an 18-year-old international player making his pro debut in the Appalachian League, Delgado did quite well. There are good things to like here, and he is a possible breakthrough candidate for 2009. Grade B-.

  124. Sickels really likes Delgado–and with good reason. Not only was he impressive at Danville, but he looked good in the DSL the year before. I think that he was overshadowed by the all the hype which Teheran received. In fact, Delgado is only a year older so at least at this stage he is an impressive pitching prospect….

  125. Guess that means no contract extension for Gonzo. Who’s our closer in ’10 and beyond? Moylan? Kimbrel?

  126. How you doing, Mac? Hang in there, buddy. My best wishes and heart-felt prayers are constantly headed your way.

  127. By David O’Brien

    January 19, 2009 2:31 PM | Link to this

    Patrick, Braves haven’t made any decisions on Gonzo for future. They want to see what he does this year, whether he can stay healthy, etc. A year ago they signed another reliever (Soriano) with previous elbow problems to a two-year deal that pays him $6.1 mill this season, and that deal hasn’t worked out so well….

  128. found this to be interesting also

    By David O’Brien

    January 18, 2009 8:12 PM | Link to this

    Always curious to see what Bill James projects for certain players in the coming season.

    Just took a quick glance at the new handbook to see what he’s got projected for a few pitchers:

    Derek Lowe: 14-9 with a 3.60 ERA in 206 innings.

    A.J. Burnett: 14-11, 3.62 ERA in 224 innings.

    Jake Peavy: 14-8 with a 3.26 ERA in 202 innings.

    Ben Sheets, 13-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 186 innings.

    Jair Jurrjens: 10-9, 4.02 in 178 innings (projecting a little regression in his second full season).

    By the way, for what it’s worth: For Andruw Jones, he projects .233 with 16 HRs, .328 OBP and 50 RBI in 301 at-bats.

  129. Well it’s not like the projections are set in stone.

    The Braves represent perhaps the most intriguing match for the Orioles — they nearly acquired Roberts two years ago and made another run at him last year. Roberts would fill the role they envisioned for Rafael Furcal, providing dynamic leadoff skills. Second baseman Kelly Johnson would move to the outfield.

    However, one source with knowledge of the Braves’ thinking said the club would be reluctant to give up the necessary talent for Roberts and pay his salary. Instead, the Braves likely will wait for the price to drop on an outfielder, either in free agency or trade discussions.

    Two years ago, the Orioles had a chance to deal Roberts and pitcher Hayden Penn to the Braves for pitcher Tim Hudson and second baseman Marcus Giles, then for first baseman Adam LaRoche and Giles. Either deal might have been no better than a wash, though the O’s potentially could have flipped Hudson for young talent.

    http://tinyurl.com/83jrr4

  130. Hadnt thought much about Roberts, but it seems like a dumb move. Keep Kelly at second and get a big bat for the OF.

  131. Dan, just saw the Rosenthal report also and dont know why we’d give up much talent for another player in their final contract year. Dont see it as a match

  132. Dan, just saw the Rosenthal report also and dont know why we’d give up much talent for another player in their final contract year.

    The same could be said of Nady.

    I want a real power-hitting left fielder. If the Braves got Furcal, or get Roberts, that is basically making a speedy leadoff-type their power-hitter corner outfielder. Why?

  133. @175 – Can’t say I agree with doing it either. But we have 2 major holes left (more holes, just 2 major ones IMO). One being a power bat and the other being a leadoff hitter. I definately wouldn’t go after Roberts when a comparable Hudson is out there. I believe Roberts to be better, but he would have to give up good prospects to get him. I would still rather get a power bat over this option, but it is still an option. One less glaring weakness in our lineup.

  134. “The same could be said of Nady.”

    exavtly what I was referring to. Just dont see us giving up much for these guys. Burrell at that 2yr deal looks very good in my opinion

  135. if Josh Anderson is our CF’r, Id give him a shot a leadoff. He’s got small sample sizes, but I like his speed and he seems to handle the bat pretty good. Id rather do that than add a $8-10 leadoff option and having to move KJ back to LF

  136. #175, didn’t you hear Chip on the broadcasts at the end of last season? The game is becoming more about speed!

  137. Leadoff hitting is as overrated as the base-stealing it is associated with. Just give me a high OBP guy in the #1 spot in the order.

    #175, didn’t you hear Chip on the broadcasts at the end of last season? The game is becoming more about speed!

    He said that in pretty much ever single game he did between July and the end of the season. Always “I think our game is getting away from the power stuff to a more exciting game with a bigger emphasis on speed and blah blah blah.” Him and Joe Simpson exasperate each other’s problems with broadcasting.

  138. Ha! I suggested to AAR a couple weeks ago that I thought the Braves were probably looking into acquiring Brian Roberts, but that there wouldn’t be a match. I’m very good at forecasting failed Braves targets.

  139. There’s a report out that says Dunn won’t get more than $5 million this year. If that’s the case I’ll take two please.

    Also Sickels rates Heyward as the 8th best hitting prospect and Hanson as the 7th best pitching prospect. Feliz is #2. Ouch.

  140. Jesus no. Let’s just buy Orlando Hudson if we are going to go the KJ to LF route

    edit – this was in re roberts. As far as the “published report” for Dunn at 5M, I’ve got a published report regarding me and Jessica Alba I take just as seriously

  141. Yeah, I really don’t get the whole “sign a 2B so we can move our 2B to the OF instead of just signing an OF, who will almost certainly be cheaper and/or have a better bat than the 2B we’d be getting” line of thought. If the goal is to then move KJ for a REAL OF bat, then I guess it makes sense. But I still think waiting out Dunn or Abreu is the more direct route here.

  142. I agree that it seems like a relatively good deal for both sides to get Markakis on that contract.

    I don’t understand why we’d sign a 2B either unless we get an extreme upgrade in the field and at the plate. And then I figure KJ could be flipped. Dunno. Not saying I like that plan.

  143. I read a article somewhere (Baseball Analysts?) where the author lists 5 players in MLB he’s betting on for 2009 and KJ is one of them.

  144. And since you mention Feliz, I just heard the BA podcast today that likened that Tex trade to the Hershel Walker deal.

  145. the only way we should trade roberts is if we could dump francoeur and trade for nady (not in the same trade obviously). a kj, nady, schafer/anderson/blanco/a. jones outfield would be a definite upgrade. and having a legit leadoff that gets on base, hits for power (68 extra base hits last year), and steals mega bases, would be incredible. what’s not to like?

  146. My fondest single inning memory is about to start on ESPN Classic with the bottom of the ninth of the 1992 NLCS vs Pittsburgh. I don’t think I have ever been happier with the ending of a game in my baseball lifetime.

  147. Parish–Thats an interesting point of comparison. In Braves’ history I would add the 1983 trade in which Brook Jacoby, Rich Behenna and Bret Butler went to Cleveland for Len Barker….

  148. I just loved the reaction and unbridled enthusiasm of game 7 in 1992. I think Game 6 of the World Series in 1995 was more of a relief after coming so close so many other times. They had lost so many times when it seemed like they should have won I guess I almost didn’t know how to react after they finally won the World Series.

  149. I’m with Putter.

    After Game 6 of ’95 WS, I just smiled, popped some champagne & toasted with a longtime pal; after Game 6 of ’92 NLCS, I almost ran through a glass door.

  150. I remember I was in college and I burst out of my room at like midnight looking for anyone to high five and celebrate with. Problem was I live in Michigan and nobody seemed to care nearly as much as I did. I still get goose bumps when I hear Skip’s call pf the game on radio or Sean McDonough’s call from TV.

  151. Ha, that’s Game 7 of the ’92 NLCS, of course.

    I was living in Hoboken, NJ, & had gone to the middle games in Pittsburgh. Strangely, I always get the feeling that it’s a game that doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves.

    You can argue that Cabrera’s hit was an even more dramatic pennant-winner than Bobby Thomson’s HR in 1951. Why? Because Cabrera’s came with 2 out. If he fails, the Braves are done. As incredible as Thomson’s HR was, you can’t say the same thing for that situation.

    Similar story with the 2 WS walk-off HRs. Joe Carter’s 3-run HR in ’92 came with one out in a Game 6. Bill Mazeroski’s Game-7 HR was a leadoff shot in a tie game.

    As always, I tip my glass to you, Francisco Cabrera.

  152. I will always remember Bobby saying Cabrera had as much or more raw power than Juan Gonzalez. We never really saw any hint of that.

  153. Francisco Cabrera…we will all remember his name forever just because of that hit…I am sure he will be loved by all Braves fans forever.

  154. One of my prized possessions is a 1992 Topps Francisco Cabrera baseball card.

    With the 95 title there was a sense of entitlement with me – we were owed that championship. In 92…I had never experienced elation like that in my life. I was 12 years old and the son of immigrants. I had discovered baseball/the Braves about three years prior. My intro to the game were the horrid 89/90 Braves seasons and the merciless ridicule I endured during those little league seasons when I was figuring out the rules of the game while I played in the field. But to watch the exhilaration of the 91 regular season and playoffs, the heartbreak of the 91 Series and then the euphoria of the Cabrera hit…I was hooked on baseball forever.

  155. Although I don’t think Dunn fits well into our team, $5M for Dunn is downright robbery…

    …at the same time, I can’t trust any Nationals beat writer…wait, there is such a thing?

  156. AAR–Forget the fact that Feliz and Andrus might become All Stars–the cost of the first Teixeria trade can be seen this winter, when we could not make the deal for Peavy. Now, things may still pan out for the Braves, but the Wren could not deal Escobar (or Andrus) to San Diego because we did not have another quality shortstop in the upper levels of the organization.

    Also, its too early to give up on Salty or Matt Harrison….

  157. Stephen, I still think Peavy will not come to Atlanta even if Wren and Tower can agreed on the package.

    I still think Salty will be decent, but I never had high regard on Harrison.

  158. AAR, I kind of agree with you. Hard to call this the Herschel Walker trade this early, but it does have the chance to become that.

  159. Stephen, you make a good point. I think we would have been able to make the Peavy trade if we had all those guys, and Peavy may have wanted to be here with all those players on the cusp. One would have to assume everything else stayed the same if we did not make the Tex trade, which is not a given.

  160. HWT – where did you emigrate from?

    At the end of the ’92 NLCS, I hopped in a car in Duluth and drove to Buckhead to celebrate in the streets with total strangers.

    I had been watching the game at some friends’ house and they had given up and gone to bed. I could not convince anyone to join me in Buckhead, but I had to go for sure.

    Euphoria!

  161. Parish and KC–Peavy might not have wanted to waive the no trade contract and come to Atlanta. Also,it is doubtless the case that if we had not traded for Tex things would be different.

    My intention was to make a different point: namely, to see the impact of that trade on the Braves’ organization you don’t have to wait for Feliz and Andrus to develop. In fact, it does not matter if they develop at all–but they were and would be (at least for the next few years) key trading chips.

    By the way, I would not have been opposed to the trade (and as KC reminded me last summer for Tex AND Mahay) if we could have signed the former….

  162. Parish–That is a great memory…I watched the game in Connecticut with my Dad. After we calmed down we said–reflecting a phrase made popular before the First Gulf War–“that was the Mother of all 9th inning rallies”…This morning I got choked up telling my wife about it….

  163. The Drew trade allowed us to extend the all time Division winning streak by two years and was historically worth it. The Tex trade did not help us out at all.

    The Cowboys also got Woodson, I believe, and a couple of offensive linemen. They traded some of the draft picks they received and were able to make more of that trade at other teams’ expense.

    Also, I am not sure Aikman was a part of the bounty for Walker. That was probably the draft pick they “earned” on their own.

  164. Parish, I guess we looked at the deals differently. I agree that the Braves might not win the division without Drew, but Tex was not the only reason why the team can’t win. So, I tend to just look at what we gave up and what we got in return.

    Also remember we still have Kotch, Merak, and DeVall as a result of the trade. So, we did not lose everything from trading away the five prospects.

    For Drew, we got one season out of him and nothing else.

  165. But Drew provided an MVP season without which our streak would have ended at 12 years.

    I don’t think there is any way to conclude that the Braves would have won the Division that year without Drew.

    Tex did everything we asked him to do and was really all we could hope for, but moving to 3rd place from maybe 4th place (maybe still 3rd) is not worth 3-4 valuable trading chips.

  166. I am not taking away Drew’s achievement, but he is also not the only reason why the Braves won the division that year.

    As I said, we are just analysing the deals in different ways.

  167. I also ran out into the street after Cabrera’s hit, along with the two friends I was with, and several neighbors. I had to — the room just didn’t seem big enough to celebrate in. I was so happy, I could have burned a sofa.

  168. This is an interesting conversation: my thought is that one of the differences in the deals is that the Braves had more available talent when they dealt Wainwright than they did when they traded for Tex. With respect to the latter, the Braves were coming off 2006 and understandably determined–if not desperate to win in 2007. However, it was also the case that rebuilding was already on the horizon. Trading those prospects (or similar prospects) a few years earlier might not have cost the organization as much. By the end of 2008 the Braves needed at least RF, LF and three starters–and some might argue a 1B and CF.

    The problem the Braves had in 2007 was not firepower (though bringing in Tex to replace Thorman/Salty was sweet) but starting pitching. While Tex delivered in 2007 it made little if any difference. Unfortunately, the need for rebuilding remains….

  169. When they made the Tex trade, they have Tex in mind as the team’s cleanup hitter for 2008. I never thought they would not consider a replacement of a cleanup hitter for 2009 when everybody knows the chance of resigning Tex is low. Maybe they thought Frenchy would be able to take up the role by 2009, ha.

    Now, we have this huge black hole to fill with no decent candidate available internally or externally.

    In hindsight, the Tex trade was indeed a desperate move by JS.

  170. The more desperate move was the year before–when JS traded Luis Atilano for Darryl Ward at the end of August in 2006. The move was senseless–because the Braves did not have the slightest chance to win the NL East. Atilano will probably not pan out–but it sticks in my mind as an instance of JS’s frustration with the Braves’ inablity to win that year….

  171. @ 214

    My parents are from Armenia. They escaped the Soviet Union in ’72 and I was born here in 1980. The first time I touched a baseball I was 9 years old and at my first ever baseball practice.

    My buddy had convinced me to join baseball, so I started watching it on TV to figure out what was going on. I remember seeing Lonnie Smith leg out an infield hit and continue on a few steps after he hit the bag. I thought that was so cool. He was running so fast, he couldn’t stop at the base and had to run through it to slow down. I couldn’t wait to try it.

    It took about four games for me to get my first career hit. Wicked nine-year-old line drive past the 2B. I ran as hard as I could. The RF bobbled the ball. I continued on to 2nd, and would make it standing up, but I kept digging. I was going to show the crowd of 20 just how hard I could run. As the lazy throw came in from the outfield, I hit 2nd base and the umpire signaled safe. Amazingly, I kept going, coming to a casual stop about 12 feet past 2nd base, at which point the 2B came over with a big grin and tapped me on the shoulder with the ball. I was out…and an idiot.

    Poor coach had to take a moment to reevaluate his choices in life.

  172. Hiawatha Terrell Wade–Wow…That is a great story and, even better, a wonderful account of coming to love baseball. My Little League career was even less distinguished–they stuck me in RF for a reason…

    I know what you mean by the feeling of entitlement in 1995….

  173. It seems a little funny that on Francoeur’s wikipedia page, under “trivia”, it gives a fact about the Bible verse on one of Francoeur’s batting gloves….and then right below it says his favorite restaurant is Hooters.

  174. My parents are from Armenia.

    One of my best friends is of Armenian descent. Guessing your last name ends in “-ian”, HTW.

  175. Stephen, I disagree with you with regard to the Jake Peavy deal. I don’t think it’s right to call it a casualty of the Tex trade. Not only did we have the best offer on the table, we offered a package of players that Kevin Towers admitted was “fair.” The fact that he turned us down was not a reflection on our minor league system. It would have been wrong to have added Jeff Locke, let alone Elvis Andrus or Neftali Feliz. We were already prepared to overpay with the offer we made.

  176. AAR–I don’t think that we know exactly why the trade failed–but we do know that the Braves have less trading chips to complete deals. Now, if Andrus could have been substituted for Escobar, then it is certainly possible that Wren would have gone for it. Of course, Peavy may have had other ideas in any event.

    My main point is that by trading two of the best prospects the Braves had in 2007 (and who probably would have remained in the organization in 2008)the organization had less options when it came to making deals during the winter of 2008-2009….

  177. Notable Braves on WBC provisional rosters:

    McCann and Chipper, USA
    Jurrgens, Netherlands
    Vazquez, Puerto Rico
    Acosta, Panama
    Blanco, Venezuela
    Stockman, Australia
    Campillo, Mexico

    As I understand it the provisional roster is 45 men which gets cut down to 28 for the actual event. I’d be a little concerned with Jurrgens going with his increased workload last year, however there is some indication he may decline the invitation.

  178. Stephen, fair enough. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t sound like Escobar was the sticking-point — he was in the deal when it was first reported to be close several months ago, and the Padres still wanted more. Esco has a much greater value than Andrus, so you couldn’t have just swapped one for the other, but our offer was still more than fair, as even Towers admits.

    If you’re just thinking of the guys we gave up as trading chips, then yeah, trading them then means we can’t trade them now, and both Andrus and Feliz have more value than they did back then. But we got a pretty good player when we made the trade, and made a push for the playoffs, and he hit the cover off the ball when he was a Brave. I just don’t regret the trade on that basis. If Andrus is the next Vizquel and Feliz is the next Colon, maybe I’ll reconsider.

    Also, the Braves cut Francisley Bueno to make room for Derek Lowe, and the Houston Astros are the new Royals. After they picked up Hampton earlier this offseason, they just picked up Jose Capellan and — yes — Chad Paronto.

  179. Question for all of you that keep up with the payroll. Don’t the Braves amortize signing bonuses? Hudson got a $10 million signing bonus in 2006 which I thought was amortized over the four years of the contract. This would make him cost $15.5 this year as opposed to $13. Tell me if I’m wrong.

  180. Hiawatha Terrell Wade – All of my great grandparents (maternal side) were from Armenia – only they they left to escape the Turks. As you can imagine, my grandfather’s favorite player was Steve Bedrosian (and one of mine too).

  181. @239.

    I didn’t realize how good of year he had last season. To be honest, a 123 OPS+ was more than I ever expected from LaRoche.

  182. @225 – The funny thing is that as a kid I played every sport except baseball. Now, I pay far more attention to the game than any other.

  183. What is the market force that is suppressing Dunn’s potential salary?

    If we’re sitting here saying that for $5million we’d jump on that, then something is wrong. Either we’re wrong for thinking that $5million is a good value for him, because if it was, his price would get driven up through competition, or the report is bogus and off base, or we’re missing something.

    I think the latter two options are more likely.

  184. So, does Bueno stay in the organization?

    Also, count me on board for Dunn at $5M per. That looks even better than Burrell’s deal.

  185. Dix, I agree with you on Dunn. The bidding might start low, but surely Dunn has more value than that. I think Dunn will end up signing for something considerably more than $5M.

  186. Also, Dix, thanks for posting the link to the Herschel trade.

    Russell Maryland, too? I had forgotten about that.

  187. Dix, I wondered the same thing. I think the issue seems to be that the two teams who spend all the money (Boston and Yanks), and even the 2nd tier spenders like Mets and Angels, all seem to have little interest in him right now. Some of that is undoubtedly the overall economic climate, some is that it just doesn’t match their needs, and some is that if they needed somebody in that role they’d be going after Manny (Boston aside of course).

    I’m curious what the other factors are, but I think Dunn and Burrel may just be victims of the economics of large market budgets vs small/medium market budget constraints. Even in baseball apparently there’s a big difference in what the best get, and what the ‘not-quite-the-best’ get.

  188. Oh, and obviously I don’t think he’d go for that little. I don’t expect him to go for less than Burrel, but if there are whispers of him going for $5 I think it’s more likely that he’ll got for 8-10 than for him to go for the $14M he’s asking for.

  189. This from Rotoworld (10 players to watch based on winter ball):

    8. Gregor Blanco, OF, Atlanta: The Braves still haven’t signed a starting centerfielder yet, so Blanco could receive that job. After a steady but unspectacular 2008, Blanco went to his native Venezuela and hit .349 with a league-best .464 OBP and 22 RBIs. He’s not a flashy pickup, but with similar playing time in 2009 he could be a productive late-round addition.

    10. Tommy Hanson, SP, Atlanta: He’s not a veteran prospect, but it would be hard to mention off-season wonders without mentioning Hanson. He was the first pitcher to win the MVP Award in the AFL and he was so dominant that the Braves refused to part with him this off-season, even when names like Jake Peavy were brought up.

    Hanson went 5-0 in seven starts, posting a 0.63 ERA and limiting opposing batters to a .105 average. He struck out 49 in 30 innings, while allowing just 10 hits and seven walks (0.59 WHIP). Hanson could start this season at Triple-A, but he is definitely on the fast track to Atlanta and could be a pleasant fantasy surprise in 2009.

  190. I should mention that Salty and Max Ramirez are also among the 10 players mentioned by Rotoworld.

    Salty still has a chance to be quite a player.

  191. The only thing that makes me optimistic in that piece is Chipper saying he thinks Frenchy has gotten better… I don’t have faith in Frenchy’s self evaluation, but think Chipper might know enough to be a reliable barometer of if he has fixed anything (though Chipper wisely caged his statements with an “if this translates to game time at-bats” which is a big friggin IF).

  192. Re: the price of Dunn, I think that teams are valuing outfield defense much more these days. Anybody here a fan of fangraphs.com? They have some great resources, including a salary valuation system that looks at offense and defense. For 2008 they have Dunn being worth just $8.2 million, Burrell at $11.6, and Abreu at just $5.7. Defense is a considerable factor, here (Burrell’s is best of this group, going by UZR).

    Now, I’m not saying they’re right about their values, but if teams are thinking along similar lines, then you can see why they aren’t willing to give these guys huge contracts. My bet is that Dunn ends up with an annual salary of about the $8 million he was worth last year.

  193. From the Frenchy article: “That means more to me than some guy on a blog ripping me to pieces.” I wonder if Jeffy reads this – I wonder if he is referring to Mac?

  194. Also,

    it is interesting to see, regarding defense, that Gregor Blanco’s 2008 is valued at the same $5.7 million as Abreu’s 2008. Gregor rates as a very good defensive left fielder, and that’s where his value comes from.

    Also, Matt Diaz’s 2007 is valued at $11.8 million. UZR has him as a plus defensive left fielder, which is surprising to me. I think a Diaz / Jones platoon could be more valuable than an expensive free agent, and I don’t think I’d be upset with that option. Another plus there is that if you hold your money to mid-season you have the ability to make a high-impact trade.

  195. My thoughts when the Tex deal went down was that we wouldn’t give both Salty AND Andrus. When the deal was both of them, I balked, and when I heard Feliz thrown in (at the time, just an electric, low-minors arm), I really gagged. Still, it was really exciting at the time, and if the entire staff hadn’t gotten hurt, last year could’ve been fun.

    In retrospect, I’ll only fault the inclusion of Feliz. Andrus I can take or leave; I’m still not sold on the bat although the glove will guarantee him at least a few years in the bigs. Salty was blocked and while he could still really hit, I don’t mind losing him. Beau Jones and Matt Harrison are filler, IMO. Feliz, OTOH, is looking like he’ll be elite, and that hurts. Giving him up on top of two top-teir prospects was a gaff, and frankly should not have been necessary. Salty + Andrus was a fine return and better than what LA was offering, IIRC.

  196. I’m not optimistic about Francoeur yet because he didn’t mention how his new stance helped him to now tell a strike from a ball in the dirt, a foot off the plate. I am glad to hear that all of our bad vibes about his suckiness made him cry though. Since he’s talking about “muscle memory”, I think it would be good if he hooked himself up to an electric wire that gave him a shock every time he swings at a ball.

    I still remember stories from last spring when some journalist was talking about Frenchy being “country strong” and hitting the balls a “country mile”. Turns out the country was Lichtenstein.

  197. mraver – At the time I thought that we should not have had to include all of those players and we should have been able to easily complete the deal without one of Feliz, Andrus, or Harrison. I still think that is true and wish more that it had gone down that way.

    Andrus, Salty, and Harrison were three of our top four prospects, BTW.

  198. Stu, you are right in that 99.99% of Armenian last names end in “-ian”. Mine, of course, does not. Initially it did, Gozalian. But the root word of that name, “Gozal”, is a Turkish word. And if one of your very best friends is Armenian, you probably know that there is a long and terrible history between Armenians and Turks. So when he got to this country, my Dad took the Armenian version of the Turkish word “Gozal”, which is “Sirun”. So the family name became Siruni. Why my father didn’t choose Sirunian is something he can’t explain to this day.

    @ 236 – Yes Bedrosian was a big hero of mine. After discovering him I went to go tell my coach I was now a pitcher. He might still be laughing.

  199. “You can’t please everybody,” Francoeur said. “That’s one thing I’ve learned.”

    Allow me to correct that:
    “You can’t please ANYbody [by OPSing .653],” Francoeur said. “That’s [the] one thing I’ve learned.”

  200. I’m glad Chipper says he’s looking good in the cage, but I’d rather see Frenchy trying to not swing at bad balls than have him preoccupied with becoming a franchise player.

  201. “I can’t tell you how many people come up and say ‘We’re praying for you this year,’” Francoeur said. “That means more to me than some guy on a blog ripping me to pieces.”

    Allow me to correct that:

    “I can’t tell you how many people come up and say ‘We’re praying [you don’t suck] this year,’” Francoeur said. “That means more to me than [the fans I let down] ripping me to pieces.”

  202. From the official site:

    But scouts from around the Majors wonder how long the Braves will actually be able to keep Hanson in the Minors. Many of them developed this belief while watching him go 5-0 with an 0.63 ERA in seven Arizona Fall League starts.

    In the 28 2/3 innings he completed for the Mesa Solar Sox, Hanson registered 49 strikeouts, issued seven walks and limited opponents to a .105 batting average.

    Wow. There is NO WAY you can keep this kid in the minors any longer. Making him #5 would also save us a lot of money since it would make Glavine expendable. I would REALLY love to see what he can do in Atlanta.

  203. Hiawatha,
    Dunno if you’ve seen it, but I’d recommend the documentary Screamers.

    It was produced by the Armenian-American rock band System of a Down & it details lots of recent Armenian history & how it relates to the band members and their families. (The group is first- and second-generation, living in LA.)

    There’s lots of live-band footage—to some, SOAD is an acquired taste—but much of the film is very touching (and, yes, angering).

  204. “That means more to me than some guy on a blog ripping me to pieces.”

    Jeffrey, we’re talking numbers here, right? They are what they are, right? YOU let US down, not vice versa, right?

    And this “the first and last 40 games were not so bad, only those 3 month in between were killing me”-comment of yours was the dumbest statement I ever herad! It’s like Bush saying “yeah, my first and last year weren’t so bad, just that friggin’ war in between killed me”.

    This is what makes me so angry. Not only is he a very bad player, but he is also extremely arrogant and completely stupid!

    Shut up. And go away.

  205. If Adam Dunn can really be had for $7 million or so, use Glavine’s money to pay Dunn.

    At that rate, we could platoon Dunn with our $11 million bargain named Diaz.

  206. I agree with Parish. I would rather let Morton/Reyes/Parr/Campillo/Glavine battle for the #5 spot than rush Hanson. I think that we will see Hanson by mid-season….

  207. I really hope Hanson is our ace, but that is a reason not to rush him. We want him to be solid for years to come.

    The scouting reports on him are ridiculous. Four (!) plus pitches? The slider, which he really just started using last year, may be the best of them all.

  208. The Braves are loath to rush their minor league pitchers. Hanson should get some innings at AAA.

    “Rush”? Man, he reduced the AFL to powder. What is there left for him to learn in AAA? If he dominates in spring training like I expect him to, I say give him the job and see what he can do. We’re talking #5 here = 130-150 innings. That’s not too much at all.

  209. If Verducci is to be believed, we may not have overpaid the market on Lowe too much. Apparently the Mets would’ve gone to $14M a year, though he doesn’t say if they were willing to go up to 4 or not. So we may have still done the deal by going $14M per for 4 instead of just 3.

  210. #277 – Id rather just give him the extra mil per and not deal with Boras and him playing us against the Mets.

  211. Jay at 258,

    I don’t know how to translate defense into dollars, but Diaz was a plus to extreme plus defender in left in 06 and 07. Plus/Minus basically had him as the best ML left fielder (It is a “counting stat” and after you figure the innings he didn’t play, he outscored guyslike Carl Crawford).

    I am concerned about the knee. He had multiple relapses and an extra surgery. If it is 98% by spring, then yes, we have a great value.

  212. I see that Russell Martin signed for $3.9 million in his first arb-eligible year. McCann makes $3.5 million this year, which would have been his first arb-eligible year. That deal’s looking better and better.

  213. or we could extend his arb clock by not bringing him up right away Tom, since we have a plethora of options to pitch out of the #5 slot

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