Virtual guarantee!

Braves & Chipper Jones Agree to Terms on Contract Extension | braves.com: Official Info

The deal “virtually guarantees that the 36-year-old Jones will play his entire Major League career in a Braves uniform.” That’s a good thing, though sometimes it’s hard to get through some people’s heads. Apparently, there are about $40 million in guarantees over the three years; the question is how much of the money is deferred. Chipper would, of course, like to get paid, but he doesn’t want to cripple the team either.

100 thoughts on “Virtual guarantee!”

  1. (From the previous thread)

    Parish,

    Yes and no. All those teams that won in the 90’s did mostly with GREAT starting pitching and mediocre hitting.

    Now in no way am I saying the Lowe/Kawakami/Vazquez/Jurrgjens group is as good as say the mid 90’s version of Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz/Millwood, however, it appears as though it will be very good, maybe a step below, and our two chief rivals each have a lefthanded ace with elbow issues, and very questionable starting pitching talent behind both Johann Santana and Cole Hamel.

    (admittedly, I’d rather have the Mets or the Phillies lineup than ours).

    But I maybe an optimist but I think Jordan Schafer is the real deal and possibly an x-Factor if he puts up big numbers and turns himself into a top flight ROY candidate. Also, I think Yunel Escobar will be even better and gasp, I suspect Frenchy won’t be great, but closer to 2006 and 2007 than last year.

    Assuming 130 games (I know, a big assumption) from Chipper and McCann each, we have a chance to take back our division from those friggin loudmouth rivals of ours. A chance. I like our chances even more that ESPN is not giving us one and is ONLY talking about the Mets and Phillies.

    I dunno, I’d be nervous if I had a superstar ace who was having “elbow issues” and not much starting depth behind them.

  2. Great to see Chip will be a Brave for life, but if the situation arises, is the contract tradeable? (i.e. money, lenght, etc)

    As far as Sheff goes, if we can sign him right, take flier…he enjoyed Atlanta, gave no indication he was a clubhouse cancer, and can still mash lefties…..hmmmm

  3. I can’t imagine Sheff would be a worse bench bat than Greg Norton, and the Tigers owe him all $14 million, so he could probably be had at the minimum… I imagine several teams will be thinking of retaining his services, however.

  4. And Alex, from the last thread, I’m just trying to do credit to the grand tradition of Alex R.’s on Braves Journal.

    By the way, I just tried to send you an email, but it looks like the one I have for you is outdated. Do you still have mine?

  5. AAR – I don’t – what is it?

    ***Actually, just looked you up & found you on Facebook and sent you a message and friend request there.

  6. RE: Post # 1 – AR, Our pitching isn’t as good and our hitting isn’t as good. I may be wrong, but I do not think the Braves lagged behind the league in power production in the 90s like they do right now.

    I admit the division is winnable, especially if the Mets and Phillies have bad injury luck and we don’t.

    I think what you and I are both saying is that a lot has to go right for the Braves to make a post season appearance. You seem a little less cautious in forecasting the good.

    If we get close enough and our LOOGYs aren’t cutting it, I think we will be able to fix the situation.

  7. so now that the season is basically here, whats Wren’s grade for the past offseason. Outside of Smoltz and Furcal fiasco’s, Id give him a B+. Added 3 quality pitchers, got a great deal for Anderson, gave Chip his ext., didnt sell the farm, didnt lose many draft picks in trades, built a contending team

  8. I agree with Alex; I don’t think the Phillies, especially, are unbeatable. They are a nice team that got an exceptional performance from Brad Lidge and got hot at the right time. But they aren’t that much better than a few years ago when they were winning 85-88 games; the division has gotten weaker with the Braves downfall and the Mets’ bullpen collapses. I think the Mets have more potential to be a really good team but they have holes themselves. I think everything would have to go right for the Braves to win, but this isn’t the AL East.

  9. The Braves were generally above-average in offense, and among the league leaders in home runs, throughout the nineties. The notable exception was 1995, though.

  10. The Campillo deal is one more in the good category for me.

    Wren:
    12 good deals/moves
    5 bad ones
    3 neutral
    3 non-issues

  11. Parish,

    Essentially I don’t think we think different things in terms of Braves personnel, I think I am just (which is surprising for me) being more optimistic with what we currently have.

    I think we agree that two obvious “missing pieces” are A) a righty power bat and B) a LOOGY, but beyond that, I think we’re comfortably set with quality pieces everywhere else.

    I am very high on what I’ve seen from Schafer- he’s the real deal and I strongly believe he’s a top 2 candidate for ROY now that he appears to have the CF job. With Blanco in Gwinnett, it will also keep Jordan focused on working his tail off knowing we have a deecnt guy down a level who we’ll call up if Jordan isn’t kicking butt.

    I guess I also am trying to be super positive that offensively, Diaz, KJ and Frenchy will all perform better than 2008. Maybe wishful thinking, and with Francouer, my expectations are very low, but from what we’ve seen this Spring, we have reason to be hopeful that everyone will improve somewhat.

    The keys to maybe the entire season is getting as many games as possible from McCann and Chipper. I do agree if both miss signifigant time, we can’t overcome that.

    I also think you’re underrating our starting rotation.

    The other good news is we now appear to have so much pitching depth, we might be able to swing that for some additional offense this Summer as long as we’re “in the mix”.

  12. There’s only one unambiguously bad move on sdp’s list, and that’s signing Glavine for $8M and a draft pick last year. Here are the 5 other kinda bad ones in order from worst to least-bad:

    Trading Devine plus for Kotsay and cash
    Signing Rafeal Soriano for 2 years, $9M
    Trading Aybar plus for Ridgeway
    Signing Glavine for $1.5M plus incentives
    Signing Garret Anderson for $2.5M

    Of those, all are defensible except the Kotsay deal. He was hurt a lot, and Devine is looking like a relief stud. But even then, it’s not really on Wren that Devine’s value was what it was and that Cox just wasn’t going to give him a(nother) chance.

    Most of the rest of those moves vary from neutral to very good. You can disagree with the Kawakami deal or the Ross signing if you want, but none of those are franchise-crippling in any way and both have upside.

    I really think Wren has done an excellent job, with the one obvious exception of overpaying for Glavine.

  13. I like the Garret Anderson deal less than the Glavine deal. I’m not saying the Glavine signing is good but it buys some more time in the minors for Morton, Hanson, etc. to season. After some of the rush jobs of recent years, experience is good.

    Anderson, on the other hand, is $2m more expensive than Brandon Jones and isn’t likely to perform much better.

  14. Wren gets a solid A- in my book. He turned a decimated rotation into what should be a really good one and in the process gave away essentially nothing but dollars. That in a freakishly upredictable economic environment. As I’ve said before, my only quibble is the big contract for Kawa but even he could make Wren’s big money decision worthwhile. On top of that we’re not “one season ending injury away from disaster” at numerous positions, really just 3B and C. Maybe SS. I like our chances on paper, now let’s just stay healthy, have a couple of players with above the mean years, and get Huddy back for 8-10 quality starts. We’ll win the East if that happens.

  15. I give him a B. I have begun to come around on him, and frankly, I’m a little more stingy with my grades than others here.

    There are things behind/besides the signings that we should note, for both good and bad. The best thing Wren has done is NOT deal away the talented youth coming up through the system. He has protected Hanson, Schafer, Heyward, Freeman, Hernandez, and all the other talented young arms. That’s great.

    What I’m most concerned with has been the inability to deal with Francoeur, either to demote him to DFA him. Last year’s MS debacle ranks high on my ‘cons’ list, far higher than any issue with the agents of Furcal or Griffey. Both these matters, however, point to a lack of clear chain of command, as it has become increasingly unclear who is calling the shots. That’s bad.

  16. it’s probably already been posted but Marcus Giles was released by PHL

    the lesson here is: Don’t quit the juice, kids!

  17. “virtually guarantees that the 36-year-old Jones will play his entire Major League career in a Braves uniform.”

    Guarantee void in Tennessee!

  18. At the moment I’d give Wren a B/B+ for this off-season. In 2-3 years when Freeman and Heyward are raking in the ATL, with Hanson dealing, Yunel picking it at SS, and Sheafer patrolling CF, this off-season will look like an A+ by not giving up those kids for a short-term fix.

  19. I give Wren an A-, which is pretty darn good. I mean, who out there is doing a better job than Wren? I bet you can count them on one hand.

    My only complaint with the guy was the Furcal deal. And not even with the inability to “close the deal”, but the fact that he went after him in the first place. Furcal didn’t address a team need.

    I mean, people are b!tching about backup catchers, 5th starters and LOOGY’s. Some are bemoaning the loss of the immortal Josh Anderson. Do any of you realize that coming into the offseason our 2nd starter was Jose Campillo? Think about that for a second and then look at our team again.

    Good job, Frank.

  20. Yet to be seen, imo.

    Is Lowe worth anywhere NEAR what we paid him?

    Will Kawakami be set aflame by Major League hitters after they’ve seen him once?

    If Francouer crashes and burns, can we pull the trigger?

    Are we still susceptible to breaking up our middle infield combo on a whim?

    If Chipper or McCann go down early, are we toast?

    Too early to grade, right now. This time last year, I was pretty confident we’d be competitive and we ended up losing 90 games. NINETY!

    Oy.

  21. Haha, way to put it in perspective Jason C. Though I do think Furcal would’ve filled the leadoff role better than anyone else we’ve had in the mix this spring… I was a little ambivalent about bringing him back though.

    @18: I don’t want to open the Francoeur can o’ worms again, but I really don’t see what people wanted Wren to do. It isn’t going to help Jeff one bit to spend any time in AA, and he showed that pretty clearly in his 3-day stint there. He’d go down, rake, put up a 1.263 OPS and convince himself that he doesn’t need to change anything. Now I would’ve given him a few more off days to get Josh Anderson and Brandon Jones a little more experience/opportunity to show what they’ve got, but even then, all things considered Jeff was clearly our best option for RF last year given the holes in center and left. I’m not even going to comment on how stupid it would be to cut him at this point in his career.

    @15: I agree there are arguments for each of those moves, including the Devine deal. First off, it falls into the same category as the Teixeira deals in that it was a move executed under the assumption that we would compete. If we hadn’t run into so many other problems both moves might have worked out alright, but the gambles didn’t pan out. Moreover, Joey desperately needed a change of scenery. It had gotten to the point that every time he came into the game the announcer would go through the list of his nightmarish grand slam/postseason HR history… I was sad to see him go, but Oakland picked up the vast majority of Kotsay’s contract, and it looked like a good deal for both teams at the time.

  22. @25: You can’t grade after you’ve got the benefit of hindsight. You bring up a few good questions, but every team has question marks. The job of the GM isn’t to keep from these questions coming back to bite you, it is reducing the number of question marks to begin with, and Frank has done an excellent job.

    OH, and @79 from the last thread: I can’t believe I had forgotten about Brad Clontz… that really brings me back… actually looking over his post-Braves/minor league numbers I wonder why he never got another shot after 2000. Can I get a Marvin Freeman reference? Alejandro Pena? Maybe Juan Berenguer?

  23. PER DOB:

    “The deal includes a $3 million signing bonus and salaries of $13 million each season during 2010-2012, with a $9 million option for 2013 that vests if he plays 123 games in 2012 or averages 127 games played in 2011-2012.

    Jones could also earn up to $1.5 million each season in games-played bonuses — $750,000 for 135 games, and $750,000 for 140 games, and up to $4 million in escalators in the 2013 option year. If his option doesn’t vest, the team has a $7 million option.

    Last year was the fifth consecutive season that Jones been limited to fewer than 140 games.

    If the option exercises, does Chipper get to 500 HR?

  24. Okay 3 posts in a row… sorry, but its another slow day, and I’m amped by our recent moves.

    On the LH specialist front: have you guys been able to watch more ST games than me, or why has everyone jumped ship on Logan and O’Flaherty so readily? I thought we all were working under the assumption that ST numbers aren’t really that significant. Even then, I don’t know of a good game-by-game stat site for ST, but from my recollection it seems like Logan and O’Flaherty’s numbers have been skewed by one or two awful performances… they’ve put up quite a few great whole innings, and remember the idea of a LOOGY is that they only need to get one or two outs anyways. Eric’s got 13 Ks to 2 BBs, now that’s a stat that looks significant. I’m not saying Ohman wouldn’t be better, or that these guys are obvious studs, but I think we should at least let them settle into their role before we abandon all hope. (Check out Logan’s March-June numbers from last year: 28 1/3 IP, 2.22 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 29 Ks and 6 BBs. If Roger can tap into that pitcher, we’ll be just fine. Of course I should also note that Moylan is just about as baffling versus lefties as he is against righties, and Mike Gonzalez will be the guy we turn to in real high pressure situations against LHB.)

    Also, @10: Jamie Richmond (from the Devine-Kotsay deal is a RHP, not an IF,) and I’m a little confused by the inclusion of “cash” in the deal… didn’t Oakland pick up almost all of Kotsay’s contract, and shouldn’t that be reflected. Just nitpicking, but I figured you were going for accuracy. And what? No dap for Jorge Julio… hahahahahaha…

  25. I think a lot more people are complaining about people complaining about losing Josh Anderson than there are just complaining about losing him.

    I’d give Wren a B, B+. He did a great job getting us pitching this offseason, and he had a great 2008 draft (though Mac gives Roy Clark credit for that). I don’t give him credit for the Renteria deal, but he’s had a couple nice trades all on his own: trading Ascanio, trading for Vazquez, trading Anderson, and I liked that he was able to get at least some value for Teixeira.

    But he has screwed up on fixing the outfield for two years now. Neither Kotsay nor Garret Anderson is any kind of solution, and the Francoeur debacle speaks for itself.

    The bench is a sort of a wash. The Norton pickup worked out, and Gotay wasn’t a bad gamble, and Julian Tavarez weirdly didn’t completely suck… Corky Miller did, of course, but I’ve come around to believing in the Ross signing.

    The Glavine signings are basically lighting money on fire, but when it comes to a 300-game winner, I’m prepared to expect a little irrationality, and in any offseason other than this one, $2-3 million to bring back Glavine for one more campaign would be seen as a classy way for an organization to act.

    For me, his biggest flaw has been an inability to acquire a big bat. I still wish Schafer had more minor league time, but I’m willing to accept his promotion. I hope that Wren will prove to be patient at promoting our core prospects, though, and I’d like to believe that he mostly has been already. Hanson, Heyward, Freeman, and Schafer are basically the test cases. We’ll see what happens to all four of them this year.

    Till then, Wren’s a B/B+ in my book.

  26. Damn it… sorry guys, but I just came across another interesting note about Logan and O’Flaherty. You can’t just look at their regular ML numbers, because neither has been in the LOOGY role for the vast majority of their career.

    O’Flaherty’s has faced 320 batters in his ML career, 171 of them were righties, and his splits against lefties are: .231/.311/.308

    Logan’s faced 516 batters in his ML career, 271 of them were righties, and his splits against lefties are: .272/.336/.415

    Just for fun, Ohman’s splits against lefties for his career are: .197/.285/.318, better than these guys, but not by worlds… and Jo Jo Reyes is at .224/.312/.368, which isn’t quite at O’Flaherty’s level, and besides I’m just not ready to give up on him as a starter yet… and I think he’ll have much more trade value if he can continue successfully in that role.

    Can we give these guys a chance before we bury them?

  27. Frank Wren’s off-season: A- As Josh C says, look at the shambles this team was in last October and account for where it is now. Wren accomplished this while managing to keep all but one high-end prospect, that one guy being a low-minors catcher blocked by the team’s foundational young star. The only thing I might suggest is, given such a complete cluster of a roster to work with and a rare confluence of free agent dollars to spend, Wren might look better than he otherwise would in a “normal” offseason scenario. Still, he rebuilt a laughing stock into a wild-card contender in one winter, and he left the farm stocked with talent to take that WC contender back into divisional championships in the next few years. Good job.

    The Braves offense in the 90s: constantly underrated. From Gant-Justice to McGriff-Chipper-Lopez to Chipper-Galaragga-Sheffield/Drew-Jones, the Braves fielded quality offenses throughout their run of divisional championships. It’s just that those quality offenses were routinely overshadowed by the HOF-stocked starting pitchers. (In related history, the Braves rarely fielded a bad bullpen, 1992 and Jeff Reardon notwithstanding.)

    The Braves pitching in the 90s: actually peaked with Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz/Neagle. Millwood was very good in Atlanta, but Neagle’s ’96 was better than anything Millwood gave us.

  28. But he has screwed up on fixing the outfield for two years now. Neither Kotsay nor Garret Anderson is any kind of solution, and the Francoeur debacle speaks for itself.

    I think you conflate two very different off-seasons in order to shore up a weak argument. Going into 2008 the Braves had Matt Diaz coming off of what most considered to be a breakout season. They had Brandon Jones primed for what most considered to be a platoon position with the big club. And Jeff Francoeur was coming off of his best season to date. The big question for Atlanta’s outfield was how to plug the gap left by Andruw Jones’ departure in CF. The Kotsay move did that adequately, the Joey Devine chorus notwithstanding. No one projected, predicted or foresaw Francoeur’s complete and total colapse. No one. No one penciled in Diaz for “regress horribly, then destroy knee sliding into a wall.” Few predicted BJones would struggle to be productive at AAA.

    Wren spent 2007-8 attempting to back-fill a very short rotation, to find innings to fill the void behind Smoltz and Hudson. He gambled on Glavine, who while declining was at least always healthy, and he lost. And then Smoltz’ shoulder liquified. And then Hudson’s elbow snapped. At which point, all the best laid plans were meaningless.

  29. @29: I just went by the Transactions listed on braves.com.

    I do think cash was part of the deal, but I don’t know why because Oakland did pick the bulk of Kotsay’s salary last year.

  30. #33, going into 2008, we had the following ML-ready outfielders in the organization: Jeff Francoeur, Gregor Blanco, Josh Anderson, Matt Diaz, Brandon Jones.

    At the time of the Kotsay trade, no one saw Kotsay as a complete solution. He was a mediocre player coming off major back surgery, and we acquired him for a high-upside reliever who Bobby misused. Considering his awful production in his last full season, he put up better numbers than we would have expected, but he was no better than a role player in the best of times.

    And considering that we had both Josh Anderson and Gregor Blanco in the mix, neither of whom was a particularly worse offensive player than Kotsay, that made the Kotsay acquisition doubly questionable.

    Diaz was seen as a potential starting player, but his lack of power and lack of walks made his production very BA-heavy. He had star quality BA in 2006-2007, which made many people optimistic — myself included — about his chances in 2008, but he really didn’t have a lot to over beyond hitting singles, so when those didn’t fall, the bottom fell out quickly.

    Brandon Jones should have gotten more of a chance at the major league level last year, but at his age, he wasn’t going to produce star-level numbers.

    People expected for Francoeur to have a breakout year and for Diaz to continue hitting .320/.370/.450, both of which turned out to be wrong. What was easier to predict was that Gregor Blanco, Josh Anderson, Brandon Jones, and Mark Kotsay wouldn’t be able to provide much additional production over and above what Diaz and Francoeur were capable of.

    That’s why we needed a big outfield bat in 2008, and that’s why we still need one in 2009. Wren has swung and missed both years.

  31. @35: I’d say more people saw Kotsay as a “solution” than saw Blanco as “ML ready” in mid-January of ’08. Kotsay’s ML career OPS was better than Gregor’s MiL career OPS. At the time Mark was seen as someone who could hold down the fort for next to no money until Jordan Schafer’s expected mid-summer callup. I wasn’t terribly excited by it at the time, but I thought it was a crafty way to try and fill a hole, and I figured Devine probably needed a change of scenery.

    I also don’t think its fair to say Bobby misused Devine. Most of the problem times came when his back was against the wall and he really didn’t have many other options… we were digging for someone to keep the bullpen together and we dug too far. Another gamble that didn’t pay off, but not anyone’s fault in particular.

  32. At the time of the Kotsay trade, no one saw Kotsay as a solution.

    Clearly *someone* saw him as a solution, not the least of which were people in the organization. And for the most part, they were proven correct. Wren, operating on the reasonable assumption that he had two top end starters and adequate production from the corners opted to trade a superfluous reliever for a starting CF with a track record of success in the majors. That was the correct call. Counting on Blanco or Anderson to provide major league innings, then as now, was just wishcasting. The obvious gap was in CF, and Devine presented a tradable commodity that other teams valued more than Atlanta. Good move. Kotsay gave Atlanta 345 plate appearances at 340/418. Anderson had a late spurt to have similar rate stats in 146 PA (not a production level he could ever sustain as a starter. Blanco was atrociously worse in his 519(!) PAs.

    People expected for Francoeur to have a breakout year and for Diaz to continue hitting .320/.370/.450, both of which turned out to be wrong.

    Yes, and hindsight is 20/20. Were you making the same argument this time last year, or were you one of the many who expected breakouts? In short, were you agitating for Wren to spend his very limited 2007-8 free agent budget on a starting OF in lieu of an innings eating third starter?

    That’s why we needed a big outfield bat in 2008, and that’s why we still need one in 2009. Wren has swung and missed both years.

    You say that as if it occurred in a vacuum. The Braves had a hole to fill in CF and young potential on the corners, and two gaping holes in the #3 and #4 spots of the rotation. They had very little room to maneuver within their budget – they were still under the cloud of Mike Hampton’s contract, and Hudson, Smoltz and Chipper were all drawing double digit millions. They had 10-12 million to spend to upgrade. They chose to bet on league average innings from Glavine (a decent bet that went sour when Glavine went on the DL for the first time in a 20 year career), a return of Mike Hampton (a bad bet that they had no way of getting out from under), stop gap production from Kotsay in CF (until Schafer was ready, a good bet that worked out as expected) and health and production from their other players. Where the 2008 season went south was not in one of those bets failing to pay off, but in most of them failing simultaneously while at the same time Francoeur cratered, Smoltz’ shoulder liquified and Hudson joined the ranks of DL-impaired.

    Which lead straight into this offseason, where the team needed to completely overhaul its rotation AND rebuild its outfield. The front office seems to have been smart enough to realize that you can’t do both of those huge rebuilding tasks in one off-season and focused on the option with the most impact – starting pitching, leaving the OF to address next winter.

    When Jason Bay is available.

  33. Well, I generally agree with your assessment, Sam, but I don’t think Bay will be available next offseason. Matt Holliday could be, though.

  34. If Bay is extended then I’ll cease to refer to him as a free agent. As of Monday his agent and Boston had failed to complete an extension and were ceasing negotations going into the season. Until that changes Bay, Holliday and Rick Ankiel are the intersting options on the free agent market next winter. All of those guys have positive offensive skill sets, and unlike the majority of big name OFs on the market this year, they can all play defense without embarrassing themselves.

  35. Devine is making his trip to Birmingham AL to visit Dr Andrews

    This is a good time to drop TINSTAAPP into the conversation.

  36. Bay will sign a long-term deal with the Sox. Holliday will be a free agent unless a rich team trades for him in July.

    As for Devine, he’s not a prospect, so TINSTAAPP doesn’t really seem applicable.

  37. As for Devine, he’s not a prospect, so TINSTAAPP doesn’t really seem applicable.

    Ah, but he *was* a pitching prospect, so much as such a thing can be said to exist, when Atlanta traded him for a starting centerfielder in 2007. He then went on to post a reasonably productive 2008, and now apparently is going to visit the doctor who gets paid in 18-month DL stints.

    Ryan Anderson is the next Randy Johnson. Mark Prior has perfect mechanics and will dominate the Cy Young award for a decade. There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

  38. AAR – What do you expect Wren to do, win the lottery so the team has more money? Of course he failed to bring in a big bat to fill out the outfield; we had way to many holes to fill to get them all accomplished. He had to fill 3 starting rotation spots. He had to get a backup catcher. He needed a big outfield bat. So, he got 4 of those players and missed out on one – but it wasn’t for a lack of trying (too many holes to fill with limited payroll). A decent backup catcher was definately a must or McCann would have ended up playing 150 games this year (and nobody wants that). We had to have the starting pitching in place to compete for the forseeable future. Just not enough resources. Even if we hadn’t signed Glavine (which was the only deal I didn’t like), we wouldn’t have been able to afford a slugging outfielder.

  39. [Devine] then went on to post a reasonably productive 2008

    Reasonably productive? If Devine’s 2008 is your definition of reasonably productive, then I’d hate to see what your requirements are for star level. His 2008 was beyond rediculous.

  40. If Devine’s 2008 is your definition of reasonably productive, then I’d hate to see what your requirements are for star level. His 2008 was beyond rediculous.

    He was very effective as a set-up man. For forty-five and two-thirds innings. Call me cynical and all, but just over 45 innings of middle relief, regardless of the effectiveness, is not the sort of thing I build my team’s future around. This is hardly 70+ innings of shut down closer work, and it’s impossible to project it into the future.

    Because relief pitchers fluctuate more than the DOW, and just as often as not, they throw their elbows out. You guys are drastically over-valuing a fungible commodity. Middle relievers are spare parts. Even the good ones.

  41. Believe me, if Wren had won the lottery and spent his own money on Abreu instead of spending the team’s money on Garret Anderson, he’d have gotten an A+ from me.

    Look, I don’t think the Kotsay deal is terrible, in a vacuum. For various reasons, Devine wasn’t likely to be productive for us. Kotsay was basically league-average for us, and he would have been fine had we gotten good production from the corners. And I also am willing to accept the contention that it’s impossible to fault a guy for not having been able to predict utter injury disaster — which is what ended up happening after Glavine, Smoltz, Hudson, Diaz, and Moylan all went down with season-ending injuries, and Kotsay, Chipper, and Soriano all missed major parts of the year with injuries.

    There’s no question that Kotsay was our best outfielder last year. That says two things: he outperformed expectations — especially my expectations, because I worried he’d OPS less than .700 — and the rest of the outfield was beyond awful.

    My criticism of the Kotsay deal is that Kotsay wasn’t that much better of a player than Blanco/Anderson, viewed from the perspective of the 2006-2007 offseason. Yeah, he was a bit better. He obviously wasn’t better enough to provide classic-era Andruw Jones production — remember, Andruw in 2007 still had a higher OPS than every Brave outfielder in 2008 but Kotsay — and that’s fine. Anderson was clearly a far superior defensive player, and an inferior hitter. Overall, Kotsay was better, but, again, not by a ton.

    But the fact is, Kotsay was an aging, injury-prone outfielder with mediocre power and mediocre on-base skills. His .289/.340/.418 line was a pleasant surprise — but the fact that he was only healthy enough for 318 at-bats was unsurprising, given his major back surgery. Kotsay was Wren’s only outfield acquisition in 2007. When he went down, there was nothing to fill the void.

  42. But the fact is, Kotsay was an aging, injury-prone outfielder with mediocre power and mediocre on-base skills. His .289/.340/.418 line was a pleasant surprise — but the fact that he was only healthy enough for 318 at-bats was unsurprising, given his major back surgery.

    Not to be pedantic, but Kotsay actually was healthy enough to produce 436 plate appearances in 110 games. The fact that 91 of them came in Boston after he had been traded – a move driven by the complete implosion of the rest of the team, not Kotsay’s performance – doesn’t mean they don’t count. Wren bet that Kotsay was 1) recovered enough from his past back issues to provide league average production as a starting CF, and 2) that he was cheap enough to move or let go if/when Schafer proved himself ready for a starting spot in the bigs. Wren was proved correct in both of those assumptions.

    Kotsay was Wren’s only outfield acquisition in 2007. When he went down, there was nothing to fill the void.

    But you’re the one arguing that Josh Anderson and Gregor Blanco were Kotsay’s equivalent. Clearly, if those guys were capable of playing all year instead of Kotsay they were capable of “filling the void” if he went down. What you meant to say, I assume, is “when Francoeur cratered and Diaz went down there was no one there to fill the void,” a true statement as far as it goes, but sort of looping around the question of Kotsay. I ask again, were you agitating that Wren spend his limited free agent budget in 2007-8 on a corner outfielder instead of backfilling the rotation with Glavine? Were you arguing, then, not now in hindsight, but then with foresight, that having a real corner OF was more important than having an established #3 starter and that Wren should have flipped that $8mil/$2mil pay scale, paying $8mil for unnamed OF X and filling the rotation with $2mil starter Y? If so, who were the options you’d have preferred Wren acquire?

    This all comes across as Monday morning quarterbacking, IMHO.

  43. I’m speaking out of ignorance here as I know very little about G. Anderson. Why is this such a bad pick up? Why are many assuming he won’t put up similar numbers to last year in a platoon role. While his numbers have declined some, he had a more productive season than any of our outfielders last season. Are we expecting him to go Raul Mondesi on us?

  44. Are we expecting him to go Raul Mondesi on us?

    GAnderson is a decent LH half of a platoon. He’s less likely than Mondesi to “go Mondesi” – Raul had been washed up for a couple of years before he tried to make a comeback in Atlanta – but Anderson is old and he is in decline. Some folks think it’s a waste of marginal resources to pay Anderson to do what (they assume) Brandon Jones could do for “free”, and they may be right. But in the Braves situation this year they value stability, which GAnderson provides, more than cheap potential which Jones would bring.

    If Anderson does “go Mondesi”, much like Mondesi he’ll be an easy player to cut loose and replace with Jones (or Blanco, or some other OF option like Jason Perry.)

  45. joelk,

    I think that most think that G. Anderson will probably be o.k. Actually, most think he will be more productive (offensively) than Kotsay actually was last year and that he is les likely to be hurt (althought so far, maybe a little question there).

    The problem is that Anderson is not a good defensive left fielder, either. he is not a train wreck. And there were other outfield options that went right by us. The Braves FO did not like Dunn, Burrell, or maybe Abreu as well. But each of them projects to be much more of an offensive force than Ganderson.

    Then, Griffey’s name jumped in and a Griffey / Diaz platoon produces almost as much offense as any one left fielder other than “Manny be Manny”.

    Further, if Ganderson drops a hair, he might not be any better than B. Jones.

    The real problem with Ganderson is the fact that his money plus Glavine’s money equals a better player.

    Also, I am the idiot that continues to think that the Cardinals have got to come to their senses and trade one of their excess outfield guys for Prado and a pitcher. But now, with 2.5 committed to Ganderson, how do you fit the new one in?

  46. Fair enough on Kotsay — though a lot of those Boston ABs came in right field or at first base, both less physically taxing positions. And he hit .226/.286/.345 in a Boston uniform. All things considered, I’d imagine they’d like Luis Sumoza back.

    Sam, ultimately, as a fan, Monday morning quarterbacking is all I got. I’m not actually in the front office. I can root for my team and exult when they do well and mope when they do badly and get angry when they get screwed and feel slightly embarrassed and sneakily happy when they get a break they didn’t deserve. When a Brave makes a boneheaded play, I get pissed. When a guy throws a hanging curveball and it gets hammered a mile and we get hung with a loss — like James Mouton did to Mike Stanton when I was at my uncle’s house in Rye, New York, in 1995 — I’m inconsolable, for at least a couple hours.

    What do you want? I’m a fan. I can’t not care, and I can’t not second-guess or third-guess. I’m going to try to get as much information as I can, and with that information I’m going to try to understand what goes on on the field, and because this is a blog of Braves fans, I’m going to write what I think.

    I was annoyed Wren didn’t do a better job in the outfield in 2007, but I didn’t complain loudly, because I had no idea what would happen to Diaz and Francoeur. I sure as hell know what happened now, and Garret Anderson ain’t enough to put a band-aid on that gaping hole. I fault Wren for not learning from 2007.

    I’ll go ahead and say it: if the Braves had $40 million for Chipper, they could have found $5 million for Abreu.

    At the same time, I’m not killing the guy — I gave him a B/B+. I think he’s been well above-average as Atlanta’s GM, as I’ve written. This is the one area where I think he’s left the team below par, and I think he should have addressed it.

  47. @48

    I expect him to field a championship calibre team. Sometimes the way events play out aren’t fair. It’s tough, but it is ultimately his responsibility.

    I like this team and I agree that he has done a relatively good job; however, for all the congratulations that are bestowed on Wren; remember, he had one of the very few teams with a significant amount of money to spend in one the most depressed free agent markets in history. The deck was relatively stacked in his favor.

    You say there weren’t enough resources, but I think its more of the manner in which they were applied. The offseason goal was to pick up two quality pitchers and a impact outfield bat. Lowe and Vasquez qualify as the pitchers, but personally, I would rather have taken the Kawakami/Ganderson money and signed Adam Dunn.

    That would have still given you Campillo, Morton, Glavine, Hanson, Medlin, Reyes, etc to fill out the last two spots, and at the same time not locked you into a 30+ year old pitcher with a history of back injuries who’s never pitched an inning of MLB ball. Don’t also forget the rotation logjam looming when Hudson is back/Hanson bursts through

    A lot of that is hindsight, and Frank has done a solid job. Ultimately though, his real report card will be delivered through the team’s performance on the field…regardless of how fair it is.

  48. Thanks Sam and Cliff. Here’s hoping for a year of a decent platoon or improvement from Brandon Jones. He had a decent spring so might be a bit of a late bloomer.

  49. Sam, ultimately, as a fan, Monday morning quarterbacking is all I got.

    I totally understand this, but at the same time, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to expect unreasonable things or judge past events with hindsight. We can be fans and rational at the same time.

    If your issue with the 2008-9 off-season is the decision to acquire Kawakami and Anderson rather than making a run at Abreu or Dunn, I won’t hold that against you. I personally think that Wren’s decisions were the correct decisions. I think you have to restock starting pitching before anything else; Kawakami was signed well before Lowe and signed as an insurance policy against the less-than-sure-thing of signing Lowe at all. I also tend to agree with the Braves apparent belief that Dunn and Abreu, for all of their offensive upside, both have real defensive liabilities that reduce their overall value to a club. In fantasy, Adam Dunn’s on the top of my keeper list every year. In reality, where he has to lumber around the OF to play every day, it’s a different story.

    And finally, I honestly believe Wren is approaching the Braves as a two year rebuild, and I greatly approve. Trying to piece a competitive team together in one offseason is not a winning proposition with the franchise as it is currently assembled. We went 20 years without having a true rebuild. If Frank Wren can pull that off in 2-3 window, I’m completely on board with that program.

  50. @61

    Braves signed Kawakami on Jan 10 and Lowe on Jan 13. Though I guess anything is relative…

    Is Adam Dunn a liability in the field? Yes.

    He is still 28 and averages 40 HR and a .400 OPB.

    That is an impact bat. The outfield does not have one of those. We do however already have a fair amount of unproven pitchers. Plus, Blanco could be used a a defensive replacement.

    But, as you implied, that’s just a personal judgment call; we’ll see how it plays out.

  51. Braves signed Kawakami on Jan 10 and Lowe on Jan 13.

    It should be noted that the Braves off-season plan was thrown out of whack a bit by the departure of Smoltz. They almost certainly planned to retain one of either Smoltz or Hampton. When both exited for larger paychecks, they had to fill three rotation slots instead of the two originally planned for.

    Which is just another way of saying they didn’t have enough money to address the OF this year.

  52. @57: The $40 million for Chipper comes from over the next three years at least, and I would be shocked if some of that isn’t deferred over an even longer period. Chipper’s extension has absolutely nothing to do with this season’s budget… that’s how budgets work.

    You’ve also got to remember that even though Bobby Abreu signed for $5 million (base, plus up to $3 million more in incentives,) the Braves would’ve had to beat that offer considerably given the advantages that the Angels could provide (the easier AL West, the availability to DH if needed, etc.) When you’re looking at a figure closer to $8 million it really puts a pinch on the budget. Even if we hadn’t signed Glavine, and (obviously) Anderson, we’d still be about $4 million over our current salary, which would basically keep us from making any sort of improvements at the deadline if necessary.

    Speaking of deadline improvements: no comments from all the Boone Logan/Eric O’Flaherty haters on the statistics I threw out above? (@29&31) Did I silence critics that easily, or did they all skip over my long treatises?

  53. @62: The Dunn deal would’ve not only stretched the budget further than it could, but it also could’ve blocked the progression of Atlanta’s future, Jason Heyward until at least 2011. If we were in a position to bet the farm on this one season then maybe we could’ve made some cuts (not signed Glavine and Anderson and shed another $2 million somewhere,) found a way to ship Francoeur to KC for next to nothing in return, and made room for Adam that way… but it would have ruined our long-term flexibility in exchange for a somewhat one-dimensional player that bats from the side that every other player in the lineup would… this scenario also would’ve banked on Diaz and Brandon Jones filling left capably, center field working out, and the whole team not needing any improvements by the deadline.

    I like what Frank has done better than that. Garret is a veteran who knows how to play the game, and I think the clubhouse will be much better with him in it. I have no doubt that Glavine’s capable of returning to form, and if he doesn’t his signing bought us another month or two to figure out where our younger pitchers fit in without throwing anyone into the fire in April(Campillo, Jo-Jo, Hanson, etc.) AND if we’re still in contention around June Frank has some reasonable flexibility to make a deal happen to bring in another piece or two to get us back to the playoffs.

    Worst case scenario, all this blows up in our face, we recognize we’re out of it early and we have another year to juggle the many valuable pieces we have, and put them in place to seriously contend for a World Series by this time next year. Worst case scenario by signing Dunn was we throw $20 million out the window for a guy who saps at-bats away from our prospects in need of development.

  54. You can’t ‘block’ Jason Heyward until 2011. He’s not going to be in the majors until 2011 regardless of who the Braves have in the OF. For chrissake, the kid is 19!

  55. @65

    The point I was making (that actually is moot) is that for what we are paying Kawakami and Ganderson, we could have had Dunn, and IMO, that is a better allocation of funds.

    @67

    Right. That was kind of how I was thinking about it. Plus, Dunn is 28, in his prime, and as stated, is as close of a guarantee as there is for 40 HR and a .400 OBP. Maybe his defense deflates his value some, but he is still easily worth his 20 MM over two years.

  56. You do realize that ‘grading’ means using hindsight, right? That’s the basis of the question: it requires you to use the benefit of hindsight. Moreover, arguing that somebody is ‘monday-morning quarterbacking’ is kind of ridiculous, because this is a blog–a blog to discuss the Braves–and among other things these forums are exactly for that kind of discussion.

    As for the merits of argument, I agree with AAR. Wren didn’t deal with the outfield well. I think people are grossly undervaluing defense, and when that’s taken into account Garrett Anderson and Matt Diaz–two of the least patient hitters in recent memory–will provide little more than league average production in the best-case scenarios. Considering the glut of defensive-challenged, power-hitting outfielders this offseason, that frustrates me. We’re still going into next season with one of the worst outfields in baseball. This was the offseason to address that need, if there ever was one. Wren didn’t. He did well elsewhere. He gets a B.

  57. @69: I’m not sure I’ve come up with a grade for Wren yet, but I won’t argue with a B. You can’t grade a GM based on things he couldn’t control, however, and you can’t grade him on things he didn’t know at the time. Also, remember that we also have one of the best infields in baseball, and now one of the deepest pitching staffs thanks to the front office’s offseason work.

  58. @70

    Good thinking, dude. Didn’t even think of that. With Devine out, Ziegler will get the saves. Done, and done. Thanks man.

  59. @67: First off, I did say “could’ve blocked,” as I don’t take it as a given. However, I’d be shocked if Heyward doesn’t get substantial playing time in the Majors over the next two seasons. He appears to be on pretty much the same developmental path that Andruw Jones was on, and he got called up in his third professional season and made his debut on August 15th, at the age of 19, and was the everyday CFer by the time he was 20… Heyward will be 20 on August 9th, and IF he continues the way he appears to be and any one of our outfield positions isn’t pulling its weight, then I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him start 20 or 30 games this year just like Andruw did in ’96.

    It isn’t as much that Dunn could’ve blocked Heyward, as much as it was that Dunn was more likely to create redundancy than Kawakami. Instead of Dunn we’re going with Garret and Diaz in a platoon, and if that doesn’t work out Jason Heyward could fill in around August (or at the time, Jordan Schafer could’ve been called up in June.) In a pinch we’ve also got Gregor Blanco and Brandon Jones.

    If we hadn’t signed Kawakami, it starts a domino effect that puts more reliance on Glavine, pushes Campillo into the rotation, and leaves us with Buddy Carlyle, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Charlie Morton as our best options to fill-in if anyone had to miss any starts… I’ve heard those names before, and it didn’t turn out well… I love Buddy, and I think he’ll play a huge role in the bullpen. I’d be okay with a start or two, but if he’s forced into the rotation along with Jorge then we’ve lost our best long relief options. I still have faith in the young guys, but I don’t want to be forced to rely on them again. I’d rather rely on our already improved offense, which despite low contributions from the OF still put up good production last year.

  60. “It isn’t as much that Dunn could’ve blocked Heyward, as much as it was that Dunn was more likely to create redundancy than Kawakami”

    That is where I disagree. I would equate your Dunn/Heyward parallel to a Kawakami/Hanson one. The main difference however, is that Hanson is ready right now. And even if he weren’t he’s a helluva lot closer than Heyward. Plus, Dunn’s deal was two years, and Kawakami’s is for three. Finally, there is the Tim Hudson factor. Unless I’m mistaken, we don’t have an all-star outfielder under contract who could be ready by August.

    Again, while there are far worse situations to be in than having too much pitching, my original point was to the proper allocation of resources. I still think Dunn seems a better fit.

  61. Well if we had never signed Tim Hudson to that extension 3 years ago… We had released Jeff Francoeur… traded Soriano for.. say… Grady Sizemore.. and got the Indians to pay his whole salary of course.. And if Chipper played for free, we could afford Manny Ramirez as our impact outfield bat..

    Then we could move the ballpark to the moon and just watch the homers fly for miles!

  62. #24 – Jason C – Great post.

    I particularly liked this:

    “Do any of you realize that coming into the offseason our 2nd starter was Jose Campillo? Think about that for a second and then look at our team again.

    Good job, Frank.”

  63. @75: Well there is certainly room for disagreement here. A case can be made either way, and we won’t know which is better until the season plays out. If we lose a starter or two, or the bullpen gets beat up we’ll be glad we’ve got excess depth there, but if Francoeur doesn’t rebound and Schafer doesn’t pan out we’ll wish we had added an All-Star caliber OFer. I have more faith in Jeff, Matt, Garret and Jordan than the chances of this rotation making it through the whole season without a bump or two.

    I doubt either of us has really seen enough of Hanson or Heyward to say they’re ready, and I was a little surprised by the Kawakami deal (more so after the Glavine deal) because I did think we might be building too much depth, and could potentially stifle one of our young guns that might step up this year (Jo-Jo, Morton or Hanson.) I tend to want to be really careful about rushing pitching to the majors, however, but if Hanson is obviously ready come June we can still give him Glavine’s spot in the rotation.

    The difference between pitching depth and outfield depth is how much can go wrong with starting pitching and how fast it can happen. I do think part of Frank’s, and my, preference for Kawakami was based out of shell shock on what happened last year, and not wanting to go through that again. You make a good point with Hudson, but everything I’ve heard is pretty pessimistic, and I certainly don’t think he’s an option we can depend on to give us much more than a month’s worth of carefully watched starts (he also would likely not even attempt it if we’re not in contention, and if he does pitch I don’t know what that does to our insurance claim.)

    Signing Dunn wouldn’t have been a bonehead move. I can see your point, but I prefer the acquisitions Frank put together.

  64. @14, I think we agree that two obvious “missing pieces” are A) a righty power bat and B) a LOOGY, but beyond that, I think we’re comfortably set with quality pieces everywhere else.

    Which is why we must make a serious effort to leverage the Nationals’ roster crunch to get Josh Willingham. He’s ultra solid and is scheduled to be wasted on their bench. Heck, they probably have a decent LOOGY to pick up in the bargain. I just hope someone doesn’t beat us to the punch.

  65. @79 – that sounds like a great idea, but which roster spot does Willingham take? Diaz? Norton? I don’t see where Willingham would fit. I would rather have him than Garret Anderson (and probably Frenchy) but we all know neither of them will get cut.

  66. I’m interested to know why so many on here have absolutely no confidence in Logan or O’Flaherty. Is it because of the one bad outing by both of them a week or so ago, seeing them pitch in ST, their track record coming into this year, all of the above or something else? I’m not disagreeing, necessarily, just asking.

    Personally I don’t know if Logan will make it, but I see a decent upside to O’Flaherty. The situation doesn’t seem to be a whole lot better or worse than last year when there were many unknowns about Ohman and he did pretty well.

  67. td,

    Ohman had a better recent Major League resume than this other two. Plus, there was a hint that Ohman could be better in that, outside of Wrigley Field, he had been very good for 3 years.

    And, it isn’t that people are hating on the two. It is just like the outfield thing. Why would this team not pay 2 million to have a proven major league lefthander to add to an unproven to have two to deal with the Mets and Phils?

  68. Gadfly – I think I started the infielder in the Kotsay deal. I temporarily confused the Kotsay deal with Ridgway, both deals that might have been unfavorable for us b4 we threw in the extra player.

  69. Wren on 680 right now –

    Called the lefties in the pen a work in progress.

    Said Schafer does not necessarily have the cf job yet.

    Really lauded Jo-Jo Reyes in addition to Hanson.

  70. A couple MLBTR things.

    A) apparently the Phils may be interested in getting Andruw from Texas… Andruw in a Phillies uniform? THAT would be a horrible sight.

    B) Marlins released a 3rd baseman who was out of options and hit 42 HRs last year in the minors… since he was released can we sign him to a minor league deal to keep around in Gwinnett in case of Chipper injury? or would we need to put him on the major’s roster?

  71. 90–McPherson probably doesn’t want to just hang around Gwinnett. While a large enough salary might persuade him to do so, I wouldn’t expect the Braves to pony up that sort of cash.

  72. 81–b/c this is Braves Journal not Wildcat Journal

    And thank goodness, because I hear enough High School Musical crap from my daughter.

  73. While a large enough salary might persuade him to do so, I wouldn’t expect the Braves to pony up that sort of cash.

    And even if they did, I hear taxes are going up there.

  74. Just watched parts of yesterday’s press conference on the Braves website. Chipper really is a classy guy. I am glad the Braves got it done. Well done, Frank!

  75. 94–yeah taxes are going up but the multiplier is going to make them all fabulously wealthy

  76. Cary-

    I agree…Josh Willingham would be a nice pick up.

    Re: the rotation vs. the outfield debate

    Look, ultimately, Wren did a decent job this offseason since the starting rotation is stacked with depth galore in the farm system.

    But he only gets a C+ from me because AAR is absolutely right – the outfield, offensively, is still a joke.

    I DO think Francouer and Diaz will both hit better than 2008. How much better? I have no idea. This is mostly a guess, just feel like they are better than THAT. I am in the minority on Garrett Anderson. I think he’s still a solid hitter, a professional, will do pretty well with the at bats he’s given.

    I think everyone is ignoring what seems to be the breakthrough of Jordan Schafer. I think he’s a legit ROY candidate and will put up some good all around numbers now that he’s finally given an opportunity in the show.

    However, while I like our 5-man rotation a lot, the fact is, we didn’t HAVE to sign Glavine again or even Kawakami. Yes, the rotation was trash last year. We needed an ace (and Derek Lowe fit the bill). We needed an innings eating 3rd starter (Javy Vazquez, welcome back to the National League). We already have Jurrgjens who will be a solid #2 starter.

    Had we not spent those big bucks say on Kawakami, we could have signed Adam Dunn, easily and still had the money left over to sign Ohman.

    The, you now all of a sudden have a transformed offensive lineup with Dunn in the #4 spot providing massive insurance to Chipper and McCann. This is a lineup currently that doesn’t have anyone really bad, but doesn’t have a true, healthy, everyday mauler in the middle.

    Considering what we all saw from Tommy Hanson, and frankly, even Reyes this Spring, we could have gone with a Lowe-Jurrgjens-Vazquez-Hanson-Reyes rotation which could arguably be as good, and then had Adam Dunn in the outfield (and also would have meant not wasting the cash on Garret) to fill the middle of the lineup and Ohman providing the lefthander we so clearly need.

    And for those defending O’Flaherty and Logan? WHY? I know Spring Training isn’t the end all, be all. That is true when you talk about proven veterans like Chipper, Lowe and McCann. We know (if healthy) what THOSE guys will do.

    But you have to seriously worry about O’Flaherty and Logan who have been getting SHELLED in the spring with no reasonable help within the roster at that spot.

    Apparently, we all have short memories. But Mac, do you remember a certain Spring Training when Tom Martin was the “only” LOOGY option and he spent the Spring getting his a** handed to him only to have the parade of a** kicking continue into the start of the season? That’s what it appears we can expect from either of these two. While Ohman fills the need we have for the Dodgers.

  77. McPherson would be a good pick up. Another one would be Morgan Ensberg. Either could be a jump above anybody we have we can put in for Chipper.

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