As Spring Training games continue, I can’t help but wonder what this
season will bring. So many surprises, so many new players, so much fun
awaiting. The Braves are opening the season again this year, meaning I
don’t have to wait as long as the majority of you do for your team to
play. I really can’t wait. There are so many reasons why.
- The Braves Restructured Their Pitching Staff
After SO MANY
bad injuries last year, we decided to find guys who can stay healthy
and really help out our team. We lost out on AJ Burnett, Mike Hampton,
Junichi Tazawa, and John Smoltz. Smoltz really hurt since he was an
icon for the Braves and was much loved here in Atlanta. AJ Burnett and
Mike Hampton didn’t really matter much since they spend more time on
the DL than they do on the field. Tazawa wasn’t too important since he
was probably one from actually playing. We did happen to land Dodger’s
star pitcher Derek Lowe, workhorse Javier Vazquez, highly rated
Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami, and some bullpen help in Boone Logan
and Eric O’Flaherty. We also got to retain Tom Glavine. It is a totally
different pitching staff.
- There is More Experience in the Players
had many players like Jurrjens, Morton, Campillo, Blanco, Jones, and
Sammons who had little to no Major League experience. Because of all
the injuries, some of them got rushed into the spotlight. Jurrjens and
Campillo seem to be the most likely out of that list that will start on
the opening day roster, and they also have a chance to be much better
than they were last year. They were both great until they got tired of
all the starts. They will know more of what to expect in the Majors
than they did last year as rookies. There will be many rookies this
year that are looking to get some playing time sometime during the
season like Tommy Hanson, Jordan Schafer, and Jeff Locke. It should be
fun watching them play for the Braves and learning from some of the
best players and one of the best managers in the game.
- I Get to Watch a Healthier Team
injuries were SO bad last year that it wasn’t funny. We are lucky to
have finished with the record we did considering we had 1 of our
opening day pitchers stay healthy and had many injuries with our
bullpen and field players. Chipper spent some time on the DL, same with
Kotsay, McCann, Escobar, and Diaz. Our 3 possible closers were all the
DL (Soriano, Gonzalez, and Moylan). We had no depth. We gave up after
we dealt Teixeira and Kotsay to contenders. It was hard to watch.
We Have a Very Good Chance at Going to the Playoffs For the First Time Since ’05
your an October regular, it is hard to miss 3 consecutive playoff
appearances. It has definitely been to deal with, but I really think
this is the year. It will definitely be a tough challenge as the
Phillies and Mets have gotten better as well. We also can’t overlook
the Nationals and the Marlins. If we can keep cool and get the maximum
ability out of all of our players, especially Jeff Francoeur. I can’t
tell you how important he is to our success next year. If he plays bad,
we lose. If he turns back into his Gold Glove, 100 RBI, 20 Home Run self, we will win. If he does another 08 season, he won’t be in Atlanta in 2010. It is very hard for me to say that, but it is true.
- We Have a Lot More Depth
year we had little depth, and that killed us badly. Our Bullpen was a
wreck, our pitching staff was a complete shame, there was always an
injury in our starting lineup, and our backups didn’t do too well last
year. Our backup catchers were an absolute shame and should be put on
the list for “poorest attempt to play a game.” I actually take back the
“our backups didn’t do too well last year” comment since now that I
think about it, the other backups weren’t too bad (the catchers were
still horrible). Infante, Norton, Prado, Gotay, and Lillibridge all got
decent playing time last year and they were our utility men. We do have
much better depth this year because of our great farm system. We also
signed David Ross who should help with our backup catcher situation. We
lost Gotay and Lillibridge, but we still have Prado, Infante, and
Norton along with a couple of prospects who are more than capable of
filling in. Our pitching is the best part. We have plenty of bullpen
arms and can improvise if a player in our rotation gets injured or is
not doing too well. We have it all covered.
- The Teams Are Not The Same They Were Last Year
players, new uniforms. We have seen players like Hoffman and Smoltz
sign for teams that we never expected them to sign for. It will
definitely be weird watching them play in different uniforms next year,
but that is the way baseball goes. I can wait to see how the Braves’
new additions do during the season. There were so many free agents and
so many new signatures that it is hard to know who will be good and who
won’t. You will never know.
- There Are So Many Unexpected Things That Could Happen
This is the best thing about baseball. Anything can happen. The
Volquez-Hamilton was an unexpected thing. Tim Linececum, Ryan Ludwick,
Cliff Lee, Nate McLouth were all some of the big surprise players this
year. The Rays were the biggest surprise as they went from last in the
AL to Best in the AL in 1 year! That is amazing! I can’t wait to find
out who are this year’s breakout players. I am hoping players like
Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur, and Barry Zito bounce back. It would be a
feel-good story. I really just can’t wait for next year and will
Hopefully we will see soon what this season brings.
Well it looks like the Braves have been punched in the face again. The Red Sox are set to sign John Smoltz to a one year, 4mm deal. Again things are not going the Braves way during this offseason I hope to forget. Smoltz, coming off of elbow surgery, will probably not pitch until sometime around June. Usually when he comes out of surgery, he is a new man and can pitch much better than he did. I’m not sure this is going to happen again, but you never know with Smoltzie.
He has been a great leader, player, and role model for so many people and players for such a long time. A former Cy young winner, 210 wins, 154 saves, 3.26 career ERA, 3,011 strikeouts, 8 time All-Star, part of the ’95 World Series team. Wow that’s a heck of a career and no doubt Hall of Famer. I’m gonna miss him and everything he has done for our team.
Red Sox fans, you are getting a great, great player. Hopefully he can come back next year and have a good season. I am definitely going to continue to cheer him on, even if he faces us during interleague. Last year he got his 3,000 strikeout, but that was really the only highlight of last year until he got injured.
NOW before the other Braves fans start getting pissy and blaming everything on Wren and wanting to chop off his head, think about it. We did not need to spend more than 4 million on Smoltz just because he might not come back like everyone thinks. He will be out until June or later and might have 15 appearances at the most. Yeah Boston is taking a huge gamble (he might make up to 10mm total, 5mm guaranteed). We couldn’t afford that with all our needs. Wren will be trying to sign Lowe and with that 4 million we saved by not signing Smoltz, we will have a better chance of fulfilling our other needs (2 starting pitchers, 1 power-hitting outfielder NOT named Andruw Jones). By the way, I am not against taking Andruw back at 400k. He might have a chance at hitting .240 with 10 home runs.
Ok Don’t get me wrong. I wanted Smoltz back, but we just didn’t have that extra 3-5 million, and he wanted to play for a winner (you can’t blame him after what’s gone wrong so far). If we don’t want the Nationals being ahead of us and laughing at us while we are in last place, we need to get other players. Yeah this is a horrible offseason. Yeah we lost out on Peavy, Burnett, Tazawa, Furcal, and Smoltz. Yeah we might be in last place, but WE ARE NOT GONNA SIT AND DO NOTHING ABOUT IT!
Note to other Braves Fans
Wren has not been the greatest, but so far not many things have been his fault.
Peavy- Towers/Padres fault
Smoltz- His decision
Burnett- His decision (I am actually happy now that we didn’t sign him for 80mm)
Tazawa- His decision
Furcal– His decision/Agent’s fault
We can still be competitive by signing two good pitchers, Kenshin Kawakami/ Jon Garland and Derek Lowe, and a power hitting outfielder.
We will see what will happen. Let’s just not go ahead and say the season is over just yet. Even though it’s hard being a Braves’ fan, we will pull through. Good luck Smoltz. One of the greatest trades happened on August 12, 1987 which involved you. We wish You nothing, absolutely nothing but success in the rest of your career and future, no matter where you go.
-Darion, still a true Braves fan
Yankees signed A.J. Burnett to a five-year, $82.5MM deal. We essentially did nothing over the last week, and that may cause our season to already be over. You may say we had no chance to sign him, but we really did. Right now we are 1-4 with pitchers this offseason (Tazawa, Peavy, Burnett). We seriously NEED to steep it up right now.
Sheets is the next thing on our agenda. We could possibly bid for Derek Lowe, but it’s very unlikely. Right now I wished we would have keep Hampton. We also need to get a power-hitting outfielder. Since we aren’t gonna have that awesome rotation, we might as well get some major offense to heal the pain.
Someone like Ludwick might help, if he does prove last year wasn’t a fluke. We also need Sheets and another pitcher such as Garland. We night have to throw Smoltz in the rotation just because of experience and the fact we might end up with a rotation similar to
Vazquez, Jurrjens, Campillo, Morton, and Hanson. Throw Smoltz in for Morton and it might be a 3/5 star rotation. Maybe. Chuck James just got non-tendered, so he is a free agent. Didn’t see much in him anyway. He was just a trading chip at the best. Plus we freed a couple of thousand dollars and gave us back couple of extra wins that he would have made us lose.
Parr, Redmond, and Reyes are the other starters we have, so we are seriously screwed if we don’t get Sheets or just Anybody!
Come on Wren! Make something special happen!
Maybe we will be good in ’11 or ’12.
Ok let’s talk about the pros and cons of signing AJ Bunett to a 5 year deal.
- He is a DOMINATE pitcher when he’s on the mound. It’s hard to go up against him because he is SO good.
- He can strikeout a lot of guys. He lead the league this year and has 1278 K’s over 1376.1 Innings. With Vazquez and Burnett, we can make a lot of guys swing and miss.
- He can bring that “Ace” presences that need. Yes you can argue that he’s not a “true” ace, but once you have a rookie as an ace while only winning 13 games, who cares. Honestly, Burnett is an ace to me.
- He actually would come down to Atlanta. When he was talking about teams that he would consider, he named a bunch of North Eastern teams and then included us. That’s good.
- We need an elite pitcher. As much as I hate to say it, Peavy chances of coming here are very small. We need someone who is good, otherwise we will end up with Garland as our ace or someone like that. Very sad.
- Everyone wants him. Maybe not some of my fellow Braves Bloggers want him, but Cox, Wren, Chipper, and even Javy Vazquez want him. I’m sure that everyone in the Braves organization want him and would do almost anything to get this guy, no matter the medical history.
- He might not get injured like he did in the past. Yes it’s likely he will be on the DL, but if you think about it, he has the same chance of getting injured as Sabathia does. Burnett actually went a full season without getting injured, so to me he is on a clean slate.
- We can prevent the Yankees from being the best team in history. Which one would you rather face? Burnett or Garland? That is their backup, and it would be a lot better to face Garland than it would Burnett.
Alright now the bad things.
- He’s always injured. We all know the story to that. Look at his stats.
- He wants 5 years. That’s a little crazy, but obviously some teams have shown that they would do it.
- He wants a lot of money to go along with that 5 years. around 80-90 million/5 years is his goal.
- He only pitched over 200 innings 3 times over his career since ’99. That was ’02, ’05’ and ’08.
- We just got done with Mike Hampton. Ok a positive to this is AJ is better than Hampton, but still do we want a guy that will miss 2-3 seasons?
- We will have to bid higher since we are not near his hometown.
- We are bidding against the YANKEES!!! If we outbid them, I think the Braves saved baseball from a crazy-good rotation that would not even be fair.
- We can still go and get other guys that might not have better results, but they won’t be as injured as he is.
- Burnett might want to be on the Yankees because they are getting CC and it’s close to his home. Go figure
- We would have to make other special deals where we have to transport his wife to Atlanta 8 times a year. Ok that’s not even that bad, but I just wanted to mention it.
- It might take a while and we have other needs we need to address.
- We can still get Peavy. Only if we just forget about this deal and just focus on trading Peavy. We still have a chance to make the best package for Towers. Yes it’s unlikely, but it isn’t impossible.
- We have a history of pitchers getting injured in the organization. It would seem like it would effect Burnett, and he would most likely would be on the DL a couple of times. Thank God for James Andrews though in Birmingham. Where would we be without him?
Ok I’m done talking about it. You can choose whatever, but I say get him. This to me is a all-or-nothing thing. Our chances of being competitive is on this guy right now.
Oh by the way, don’t listen to most ESPN guys. They really don’t know what they are talking about, so don’t pay attention to the Smoltz to Tigers, Mets, or any other team. He will be a Brave next year.
It’s only between us and the Yanks and it might be close. They are most likely gonna bid higher and add a 5th year, so we need to do everything we can to get him, even if it means putting in a 6th year option or anything like that. We really need this guy. Our backup will probably be Sheets, (same injury deal, less years and less money though) but I’m hoping we won’t need to use our backup.
Apparently the Peavy to Cub deal is dead, and that is good music to my ears and other Braves fan. I think we can benefit from this and we might have another chance to land Peavy! Also, if we do go for Peavy, we won’t be including our SS Yunel Escobar. Way too late for that one. We could still package a good deal though, just not as good as the other one. You have to wonder who the Padres will have at short since they got rid of Greene.
As you can tell, the Braves have been in many trade discussion, with the addition to a couple of free agents. I thought we were mostly going to focus on the free agent market with the exception of the Peavy deal and a couple of others. Speaking of Peavy, it looks like he will not become a Brave this season. It’s not impossible, but it looks like Towers wants to be, well lets just say stupid for the sake of the kids, and only trade him to the Cubs.
Well anyway the Braves have their eyes on Ludwick, Ankiel, Dye, Hart, Hermida, and Ibanez for the outfield. The also are exploring the possibility of sending Frenchy to the Royals for Zack Greinke. That would be a steal for the Braves, but I really don’t want to trade him. Every player has a bad year, maybe not as bad as his, but they all have one. Let’s give him one more chance Atlanta! Especially since he’s always got that smile on his face, even if he screwed up, you never see him frown. That’s a god attitude.
Plus he’s a fan favorite
I say keep Frenchy.
The Braves have also been in a lot of talk with Burnett and many other pitchers. I just hope we have a solid rotation, Peavy or no Peavy. Wren, I wanna hear some Smoltz talk. Everyone knows he is going to pitch, so please just talk to him about a contract, preferably a cheap and short one. No Glavine either. Thanks.
Well anyway the Braves do need to start releasing/trading/doing anything to get rid of a couple of players, mostly Corky Miller. We need to start reducing the payroll from the not-as-good players so we don’t end up paying millions for players who have a 10.70 ERA or a .100 average. Yes it sounds childish, but we need to get some stuff done
I guess we can pencil in Escobar as the SS of next year and so forth. Thanks Towers.
By the way, We need to work on a new contract with Huddy and Chipper. Maybe even JJ, Esco, Johnson, and Prado. Again Childish, but it needs to get done, especially the first two.
As the offseason begins, we take a look at what I am thinking right now.
Flowers should continue to impress so he can be a big trade part.
Blanco, Diaz, Reyes, Jones, and Lillibridge and possibly Johnson will
probably not be in Atlanta next year. Expect Flowers to be traded. If
that does not happen, expect Corky Miller to be traded/Released. Morton
has a chance to be traded. Expect Escobars name to be thrown in every
here and there. Expect Smoltz to come back and Glavine and Hampton
possibly coming back. Soriano might also have his name thrown in a
couple of times. Ordonez/Holliday and Peavy and
Burnett/CC/Sheets/Lowe/Garland are all possible players to play on the
Braves next year. Cox will probably retire after this season. So will Smoltz and Glavine if they dont do so this season.
My personal thoughts and ideas:
Send Lillibridge to Twins and maybe a low-level prospect to get Delmon Young and send him to the
Padres and throwing in some more players for Peavy? Young has more
value than Blanco and Diaz and maybe we wont have to send an extra good
prospect to SD. Also trade for Ordonez from the Tigers and/or Holliday. Sign Lowe, Burnett, or Garland.
Trades, Moves and Contracts through Sunday, November 2
White Sox sign Jayson Nix.
Angels exercise Vlad’s and Lackey’s options, but decline Anderson’s.
White Sox decline Ken Griffey’s option.
Tigers decline Renteria’s option.
Ken Macha becomes Brewers manager.
Red Sox exercise Tim Wakefield’s 2009 option.
Blue Jays exercised 2009 option on Rod Barajas.
Cardinals sign Jason LaRue to 1 year deal.
The Brewers declined Craig Counsell’s option.
The Athletics declined Alan Embree’s option.
D’Backs exercised Jon Rauch’s option for 2010.
Around The NL East
Royals acquire Jacobs for Nunez.
Fernando Tatis signs 1 year deal with Mets.
Mets pick up Delgado’s option for 2009.
Willy Mo Pena exercises 2009 option with Nationals.
The Phillies declined their options on So Taguchi and Tom Gordon.
Ruben Amaro will become new Phillies GM
Braves Free Agents
Smoltz, Julio, Ohman, Norton, and Tavarez filed for free agency. .