Into the Future with Fredi and Freddie or Ok I’m here now what?

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I know I promised
this last week but the World Series was in full flow and much more interesting
than anything I could have written; at least that’s my excuse.  Last time I recounted the ups, downs,
elations and frustrations of 2010. This time I’ll peek into the future and see
what we need and what I think can be done under the financial restrictions
Liberty Media (may they sell us to someone who loves the game soon) put of
Frank (I don’t have any idea what a good deal is) Wren and his crew.  Let’s start with the obvious.

The infield is
pretty well established if you accept that 1) Freddie will settle in and adapt
quickly to the big league like he did at all levels of the minors and 2)
Chipper will come back ready to play third in something resembling his old
form.  I’m not sure either will happen
but for now we’ll take those things as given. Martin Prado will be back at
second and Alex Gonzales at short. The infield defensively should be significantly
better than we showed late in 2010. Brian behind the plate and Jason in right
are certainties also leaving the two big holes where they were all of last year;
center field and left field.  To do that
they will more than likely look to make trades rather than jump in for a big
free agent. The reason is simple; Liberty Media don’t care about baseball
enough to invest so this season’s payroll will probably be about the 93 million
mark.  As it stands now we have 68.5
million or so of that committed mostly to Lowe (15), Chipper (13), Hudson (9),
KK (7.3), Nate (7) and McCann (6.6).  Sending KK back to Japan as rumored would
clear about 4.3 of that but until it happens (please make it soon) we can’t
count on it. No one is going to take Nate and his contract off our hands so
we’ll just hope he finds some kind of form or can fill in as a 4th
outfielder without embarrassing us.  That
leaves just 24 million to satisfy our needs. So what do we do?

Let’s get the
numbers out there for the big 3 free agents this year; Adrian Beltre, Carl
Crawford and Jason Werth.  Crawford is
the pick of the litter and team will bid very high to get his bat and speed in
their lineup.  We’re talking 6 years 20
million I suspect for him/ The Angels, Red Sox, and Tigers all have a bunch to
spend and have declared an interest.  So
sorry gang, no Carl.  Adrian Beltre is
the elite infielder this year. He opted out of a 10 million dollar option to be
a free agent.  The Red Sox want him back
and will probably let Victor Martinez go to make sure that happens.  Besides if Chipper comes back in any kind of
form we can’t use him this year without sitting Chipper and that isn’t
happening. That leaves Jason Werth. Werth is THE power right handed bat on the
market this year.  Everyone suddenly
needs right handed power so he will be expensive too. He’s not Carl Crawford
expensive; think Jason Bay numbers. He’ll get 5 or 6 years at 17  19 million from one of the teams that doesn’t
get Crawford.  That kind of money is not
the way the Braves usually spend – well except for signing Lowe in a panic
after thankfully losing A J Blow it…err Burnett to the Yankees. Frank has said
he will be creative and yesterday’s acquisition of Joe Mather signals he is still
bargain hunting.

Joe Mather
is a useful player with some pop who got hurt in 2009 and didn’t return to full
strength last year. He was promising as a rookie and the Braves tried at one
time to trade Blaine Boyer or Rafael Soriano for him so he was valued pretty
highly.  He can play any outfield and first/third
base and has even filled in as a pitcher. His signings seems to make Matt Diaz
excess to needs at last year’s salary. Eric Hinske is also doubtful as he is
testing the free agent market and lots of clubs can use him off the bench.  He may return but as much as I would like it
I don’t think it’s going to happen.  Since
I doubt the Dodgers are really going to give up on Kemp or the Red Sox on
Ellsbury I am omitting them.  Either would
be an upgrade of course but I’m not sold on Kemp’s commitment.  Cody Ross will probably be offered a job in
San Francisco and who could blame them? 
Pat Burrell is I’m afraid not worth the investment. Though he played
well for the Giants and I wondered why Frank didn’t call him and at least talk,
I wouldn’t look at him for 2011. Maybe I’m wrong but of course that isn’t new.
So, having looked around the rosters a bit there are some options I think might
make sense.  To be clear I am not in love
with any of them just saying they might be a fit.

Xavier Nady.
Before getting injured Nady was a highly thought of outfielder who would hit
20+ homer and drive in 80 or so runs a year. Tommy John surgery shortened his
stay with the Yankees and as a Cub he started infrequently as he tried to get
his stroke back after almost 2 years off. 
He would fit Frank Wren’s idea of value; recovering from injury, history
of quality play and of course cheap.

Magglio
Ordonez
.  Yes he’s old and not a
great defender. He was however having a comeback year when he broke his ankle,
hitting .303/.378/.474/852 and on track for 24 and 120. If he can reproduce
that and considering what we had for defense in left field last year Maggs
might be a good choice . . . if he’s fit.

Other than those
guys the power market is thin. They will get over paid I suppose but there’s
not much else out there.  Let’s look at a
couple of trades.

Chris Young.  The D-Backs Center fielder is a good fit.
Last year he was .257/.341/.452/.793 while hitting 27 homers and driving in 91.
 Their new GM Kevin Towers wants to get
rid of the strike outs in the lineup and Chris qualifies for that list – He struck
out 145 times so his strike out average of 265 was higher than his batting
average – but Larry Parrish might be able to teach him a bit of the strike
zone. Towers would want pitching of course but a deal may be possible there. He
makes $5 million this year, 7 million in 12 and 8.5 in 13 so he might fit in
the budget too.

Hunter Pence.  The Astros are rebuilding and Pence as a
super 2 might be available. He looks like anything but a ball player except
when he’s fielding, running or hitting. 
Last year he was .282/.325/.461/.786 with 25 homers and 91 RBI on a bad,
bad team.  He can play anywhere in the
outfield and while not a gold glove fielder would match nicely with our
needs.  He’s going to get around 5
million this year and the Astros might just swap him if the offer was right.

Ok, I’m done
babbling for today.  I hope the Braves
make wise signings this off season and don’t rely so much on the medics on hand
for the retreads they sign for $1.50 and a can of coke.  Let me know what you think.

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2 comments

  1. bvinalabama@gmail.com

    Again, you blame Wren for the constraints of Liberty Media.When you cannot spend like you competitors then you try to grab lightning in a bottle.I guess the re-signing of Tim Hudson was not a good deal.I guess the signing of Hinske was not a good deal.Wren was not the only MLB GM who did not call Burrell, the Giants caught lightning in a bottle.At the time, no one could foresee Nate McLouth staying under .200 for the year.Also who would have known after such a fast start, Heyward would look very mediocre the rest of the season.I lay that at the feet of Bobby Cox and Terry Pendleton.Cox kept playing him even though he had a injured thumb and his batting average was nose diving(a hint to us common fan but obviously not for the manager).Pendleton gets blamed because he should have worked with him more.Cox & Pendleton should have helped the rookie more throughout the year to make adjustments.Cox had him swing at the first pitch and the BA went down like a sunset. Cox is a good manager for people he doesn’t have to work with,young players need guidance and Cox phoned it in.I expect Heyward to be the beast again now that maybe he has new leadership and less legacy.
    It’s always fun to follow the Hot Stove league and see how it shakes out.I have no idea which way the organization will go.Time will tell.

  2. fireboss

    If you’ll read it again you’ll see that I blamed Liberty media for being cheap as much or more than I blamed Wren for not recognizing when a deal is flawed.
    “…what I think can be done under the financial restrictions Liberty Media (may they sell us to someone who loves the game soon) ”
    “…The reason is simple; Liberty Media don’t care about baseball enough to invest so this season’s payroll will probably be about the 93 million mark. …”

    Hudson was going to stay in Atlanta for a reasonable offer so signing him was much like the Mets extending Reyes; you’d have to be dead not to do it. Eric’s signing was good for us and a solid but not a brilliant move.

    I’m a bit confused about all the verbiage about Bobby and TP’s failings last year when I didn’t mention them or talk about last season’s performance as such. The thrust of the blog was what we might do next year, the potential signings based on Liberty and Frank’s demonstrated preferences and some brainstorming about what trades might be possible.

    About Nate: The only point in mentioning him was to point out his hold on our money and that we are stuck with him so we better hope he returns to at least his baseball card form. It wasn’t a slam on the trade as such just pointing out the facts of out payroll.

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