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  1. #1

    Braves offseason

    Now that the Giants have the world title and us Braves fans have spent a few days bemoaning our fate -- just a couple of fewer injuries and we would have beaten the Giants in the first round .. could we have won it all?

    Even so, I think most us have to be happy with the way the 2010 season went (based on our preseason expectations). I know if you had told me last April that we'd lose Chipper, Prado, Jurrjens (for most of the year) and Saito and that Glaus would flop big-time in the second half -- and that McLouth and Kawakami would implode ... I'd have been thrilled.

    Still, we have a nice foundation to build on in the offseason. How will the Braves restructure for 2011 to make a stronger postseason run?

    Well, tracking offseason moves -- the Braves have released Cabrera and declined to pick up options for Ankiel and Farnsworth (thank god!). From what I read, they are going to allow free agents Glaus and Lee to walk. Although Kawakami is under contract nexst year (for $6.7 million) I understand the Braves are shopping him in Japan. They expect a Japanese team to pick up $3 million of his salary, leaving them on the hook for less than $4 million. I think that's the best they can do under the circumstances.

    They did pick up options for Gonzales and Infante.

    Okay, here's what I see.

    (1) We have the makings of a very solid rotation. Hudson, Lowe, Hansen and Jurrjens are locks to open in the rotation. Medlin will miss the entire 2011 season with his injury, but Minor and Beachy are two good arms who got a taste last season ... one should fill the fifth spot ... the other helps in the bullpen.

    I see no offseason moves here, unless the Braves use a starter as bait to add an outfielder.

    (2) The bullpen still looks good even with Wagner retiring (he repeated that he's gone ... no second thoughts) and Fransworth gone (addition by subtraction). They have Ventors and Kimbrell -- a pair of great young arms -- to handle the finishing chores. They have veterans Moylan, O'Flaherty and a healthy Saito returning. Add more young guys -- Dunn, Martinez, etc., and the pen shoulod be deep and talented.

    Same as the starting rotation -- the only moves would be to package a young arm or two for a slugging outfielder. This could happen -- when I check the Braves' prospect lists, it is loaded with pitchers (Teheran, Vizcaino, Degado, Bethancourt) but after Heyward and Freeman, totally devoid of position players that are anywhere close to ready.

    (3) Catching -- With McCann and Ross, I don't expect any moves here.

    (4) Infield -- here's where it gets interesting. Everything I read is that the Braves are committed to Freddie Freeman at first base. Prado will return to his best position, second base. Gonzales is still at short. And it looks like the Braves are counting on Chipper to get healthy enough to play at third. They have Infante as a safety net to give Chipper some rest (and fill in everywhere else), but don't want to see him as an everyday starter. That makes sense -- he may be the best utility infielder in baseball, but as a starter he leaves something to be desired.

    The Braves might be tempted to make a move for an infielder -- ideally a combo first/third basemen who could give them help if Freeman flops or Jones is hurt. But as welcome as that insurance would be, there are more pressing needs -- the outfield.

    (5) Outfield -- Ah, here's where the management has to take action. Heyward is obviously a lock in RF. But with Cabrera and Ankiel gone, McLouth is the only CF left -- and he's awful. Last year the Braves got no offense from either LF (a composite .242/.302/.385) or CF (.232/.329/.339). They could bring Diaz back in left, but from what I read, he's probably gone.

    I think the Braves need to pick up TWO outfielders -- either on the free agent market or via trade. I doubt they have the budget for a Carl Crawford or a Jason Werth, but this is where they have to improve the team.

    (6) The Bench -- actually, pretty good shape. It starts with Infante and Ross, both solid in backup roles. Brooks Conrad probably comes back and as mad as we all got at him in postseason, he's a valuable pinch-hitter ... just don't ask him to start in the field. From what I understand, they will make an offer to free agent Eric Hinskie to keep him as a left-handed PH.

    Anyway, I miss the days when Terrible Ted would spend big to keep the Braves competitive. It's got to be done on the cheap now. If they just add two outfielders -- one a centerfielder -- I'll consider it a successful offseason.

  2. #2
    Agree with you on pitching. If you have to pick a place to be deep, that's where you want it to be. I hope our BP can translate last season's success into 2011.

    As for the infield, I'm not thrilled we picked up Gonzalez's option. I don't necessarily like the way he plays - not running out ground balls and more. That said, there aren't a lot of options available on the market.

    Worst case, Infante can play LF for us. He provides us with a very good lead off bat if he starts. But we ABSOLUTELY need a CF. McLouth has done nothing to impress since h arrived in ATL.

    But Oly, I hope we do pick up 2 OFs to give us some flexibility this season.

  3. #3

    Infante

    Quote Originally Posted by northernduke View Post
    Worst case, Infante can play LF for us. He provides us with a very good lead off bat if he starts.
    I agree that playing Infante in left is a worst case scenario ... but Infante is not a "very good" leadoff hitter. Even last year when he had the offensive year of his career, his OPB percentage was just .359 -- which is barely passable for a leadoff hitter.

    And even that is out of line for his career -- he's got a career .319 OBP which is AWFUL for a leadoff hitter.

    I love having him around ... but he's great as a versatile reserve, filling in at second, third and in the outfield. He's not great as an everyday player and especially not as a corner outfielder -- a leftfielder with a .714 career OPS? Ouch!

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    I may be wrong, but here is a list of free agent outfields who would represent the kind of upgrade I would like for the Braves this off-season. The pickings are very slim.

    "The dreams"
    Carl Crawford - too expensive but a stud
    Jason Werth - also likely to be too expensive

    "The reality"
    Pat Burrell - hmmm, maybe. He is getting a bit long in the tooth (33) and I worry that a 3 year deal would be a mistake/albatross in year 3. His BA is poor, but he has some power.
    Magglio Ordonez - He's old (36), but still hits for average and has ok power. Again though, I would worry about anything more than a 2 year deal.
    Coco Crisp - lots of speed and SBs, decent BA. No power.
    Michael Cuddyer - I am not much of a fan. He is not much of a power hitter.
    Scott Podsednik - No power, decent average. 34 years old.

    --Jason "not a lot to choose from" Evans
    I don't know what you are doing right now, but if you aren't listening to the DBR Podcast, you're doing it wrong.

  5. #5

    outfielders

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post
    I may be wrong, but here is a list of free agent outfields who would represent the kind of upgrade I would like for the Braves this off-season. The pickings are very slim.

    "The dreams"
    Carl Crawford - too expensive but a stud
    Jason Werth - also likely to be too expensive

    "The reality"
    Pat Burrell - hmmm, maybe. He is getting a bit long in the tooth (33) and I worry that a 3 year deal would be a mistake/albatross in year 3. His BA is poor, but he has some power.
    Magglio Ordonez - He's old (36), but still hits for average and has ok power. Again though, I would worry about anything more than a 2 year deal.
    Coco Crisp - lots of speed and SBs, decent BA. No power.
    Michael Cuddyer - I am not much of a fan. He is not much of a power hitter.
    Scott Podsednik - No power, decent average. 34 years old.

    --Jason "not a lot to choose from" Evans
    I absolutely agree that once you get past Crawford and Werth, there's only a bunch of bad -- or at best risky -- choices on the OF free agent market.

    That's why I think the answer might be to make a trade. They tried that last year, giving up Vasquez for Cabrera and a couple of prospects. I know Cabrera was a bust, but Michael Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino, who also came in the deal, have an awful lot of promise.

    I say try again ... The Braves have enough young arms to deal a pitcher or two for an outfielder.

    Now, I'm not an insider, but I'm also a Yankee fan and I keep reading that if the Yankees sign Crawford or Werth, they will deal an outfielder -- most likely Brett Gardner -- for more pitching.

    I love Gardner as a Yankee, but think he would be the answer to the Braves' prayers in CF. He's 26 years old with great speed (47 SB this year). I know he played left this season, but many in the Yankee organization think he should have flipflopped with Granderson -- his CF defensive numbers are excellent. Best of all, the's the ideal leadoff hitter -- he's coming of a .383 OBP. His career is "just" .358 OBP, but it's risen in each of his three years in the majors. Plus (from the Braves point of view), he's still fairly cheap.

    The Yankee part of me says that they should keep Gardner (Cfrawford is only a slight upgrade in LF) and make him their leadoff hitter (I still love Jeter, but he should not be leading off). The Braves fan in me says that if the Yankees do sign one of the two stars and put Gardner on the block, I'd like to see the Braves try to deal for him.

    Even if it doesn't work that way, there are sure to be other quality young outfielders available, if the Braves are willing to part with pitching. Everybody wants pitching -- especially young, cheep pitching. I don't want to give up two much of it, but the Braves do have a ton of great young arms, including a backlog in the minors.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    I love Gardner as a Yankee, but think he would be the answer to the Braves' prayers in CF. He's 26 years old with great speed (47 SB this year). I know he played left this season, but many in the Yankee organization think he should have flipflopped with Granderson -- his CF defensive numbers are excellent. Best of all, the's the ideal leadoff hitter -- he's coming of a .383 OBP. His career is "just" .358 OBP, but it's risen in each of his three years in the majors. Plus (from the Braves point of view), he's still fairly cheap.
    I was in 6th grade, in NJ, when the Yankees came back from down 2-0 against the Braves in 1996. I remember eating crow on many school bus rides thereafter. But I have since come to respect the Yankees, the homegrown players that is. That's a long way of saying I agree with you Oly -- I like the way Gardner plays. He hustles and has solid fundamentals. It's a cliche, but he plays the game the way it's meant to be played. He appreciates being a Major Leaguer. My only reservation is that he might play above his abilities given his surroundings. He has tremendous protection in that lineup. Can he translate his upward trajectory in Atlanta? Cabrera could not. But I would much rather have had Gardner than Cabrera to start last year off.

    And I concede, you got me on Infante's numbers...

    ...any chance Hudson goes back to his college days at Auburn and plays some LF when he's not pitching?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Nashville
    I stayed away from the Braves thread during the home stretch because I was superstitious enough to believe I was bad luck for Los Bravos when i posted here. Anyway, now that the season is over and the hot stove is . . . well . . . heating up, I guess I will make my return. OF, as usually, an excellent analysis to kick off the offseason thread. Outfield really will be key. The Braves offense has been stuck between two stools over the past few seasons. The lineup has had its fair share of guys who can get on base and slap singles or doubles (Prado, Escobar prior to last year, Infante, Diaz, etc.) , but those same guys have lacked the speed to steal bases or put pressure on the defense on the base paths in any way. Similarly, the lineup's biggest sluggers aren't big enough home run threats (McCann, Chipper) to make up for the lack of speed.

    I think the Braves' budget prevents us from addressing our speed deficit and our power deficit so I'd at least like us to become undeniably better in one of those two areas. I do not like the lower tier of outfield free agents. Most of them are either DH guys at this point (Ordonez can't track down a Frisbee thrown into the gap these days), or aging players who rely on speed (Podsednik). Anything more than a 1 year deal would be tough for the Braves to swallow, and that probably won't happen. There have been rumors floating about possible deals for Rasmus or Ellsbury. If we don't have to give up too many young arms (and the Cardinals have a history of pilfering pitching prospects from the Braves for outfielders, see: Wainwright, Adam or Drew, J.D.), I like both of these as they're both inexpensive players who could certainly hold down the leadoff roles and would be on the team for a few more years. I think something like this is more likely than a big Matt Kemp trade or something like that. I like the idea of Gardner in the lineup, as well.

    At the end of the day, however, I think we have to rely on Heyward to make a big jump (he was already great when he was injury free, minus a late season swoon which could be attributed to fatigue) and Freeman to be ready for The Show if the lineup is to dramatically improve in the power department. Also, I love Chipper to death, but the ACL thing makes me really nervous. I have all the faith in the world in Chipper, but if for some reason his recovery goes poorly, the Braves will have to add third base to the list of positions to fill. On the other hand, a healthy Chipper, an improved Heyward, and a strong rookie year from Freeman to surround McCann would give the Braves some good if not overwhelming power in the middle of the lineup. Pair them with a speedy leadoff hitter/outfielder and we're in business.

  8. #8
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    Fayetteville, NC
    KC just dealt David DeJesus to the A's for two pitching prospects. Can someone let the Braves know that they can start dealing now.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncexnyc View Post
    KC just dealt David DeJesus to the A's for two pitching prospects. Can someone let the Braves know that they can start dealing now.
    He's a strong defensive outfielder who gets on base nicely with a good BA but is not a power or speed threat. He'd be an upgrade to the Braves outfield, but maybe they think they can do better

    -Jason "we're going to see how good a GM Wrenn is this offseason-- he's got room to take on salary and he has prospects he can deal without gutting the farm system" Evans
    I don't know what you are doing right now, but if you aren't listening to the DBR Podcast, you're doing it wrong.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by ncexnyc View Post
    KC just dealt David DeJesus to the A's for two pitching prospects. Can someone let the Braves know that they can start dealing now.
    I guess somebody did - Braves acquire Dan Uggla from the Marlins for Omar Infante and Michael Dunn.

    Got to figure out where to put Uggla, but it's hard to see how the Braves don't come out ahead here.

  11. #11
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    From what I have read Uggla is going to play 2nd and Prado left field if Chipper is back. If Chipper is not back or on days off Prado will be at 3rd. I was a little weary of hearing Prado in left but from what I read he plays left every winter in winter ball so I guess he should do fine there.

  12. #12
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    Great, great, great deal. We take advantage of Infante having a career year and get some value for him. Dunn was a very nice prospect, but was -- at best -- third in line among the young relievers behind Venters and Kimbrell.

    Now, we are going to have to pay Uggla some big bucks to keep him, but the money we have saved with cheap relievers and at 1B and RF gives us some salary flexibility for a few years. Plus, much as I hate to say it, Chipper's $14 million won't be on the books for more than another season or two.

    --Jason "I am not sure they will make another big deal -- and if this is all, I am fine with it" Evans
    I don't know what you are doing right now, but if you aren't listening to the DBR Podcast, you're doing it wrong.

  13. #13
    I have heard rumors the Braves may make a play for Justin Upton ... anybody else hearing that?
    My Quick Smells Like French Toast.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by steven52682 View Post
    I have heard rumors the Braves may make a play for Justin Upton ... anybody else hearing that?
    Have not heard anything about Justin Upton but have heard rumors about trying to get his brother B.J. If the Rays are up to dealing him I would be for it. Also would be a good time to try and get him since he has been down stat wise the past couple of years compared to when he came on the scene so might not cost as much to get him. Even with his bat struggling I would just love for the Braves to add the speed to the lineup. Have not had a regular with speed in the lineup in my memory since Furcal. And I am talking about high end speed!!

  15. #15
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    Yahoo's blogger seems to think the Braves got away with murder in this trade.

    At the very least, the Braves will get the services of a premier offensive force in a contract year and should be able trade him at the deadline for a decent haul if they're not in contention (and the two sides haven't reached an extension by then).
    He adds that it will likely be easy for the Braves to fit Uggla into their salary structure once Chipper retires, likely after next season.

    -Jason "the rumor is Florida kept asking for Prado, but the Braves would not let him go" Evans
    I don't know what you are doing right now, but if you aren't listening to the DBR Podcast, you're doing it wrong.

  16. #16
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    Yahoo's blogger seems to think the Braves got away with murder in this trade.

    At the very least, the Braves will get the services of a premier offensive force in a contract year and should be able trade him at the deadline for a decent haul if they're not in contention (and the two sides haven't reached an extension by then).
    He adds that it will likely be easy for the Braves to fit Uggla into their salary structure once Chipper retires, likely after next season.

    --Jason "it feels like forever since the Braves had a 30+ homer guy in the middle of the lineup -- I know it hasn't been, but it feels that way" Evans
    -Jason "the rumor is Florida kept asking for Prado, but the Braves would not let him go" Evans
    I don't know what you are doing right now, but if you aren't listening to the DBR Podcast, you're doing it wrong.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonEvans View Post
    Yahoo's blogger seems to think the Braves got away with murder in this trade.



    He adds that it will likely be easy for the Braves to fit Uggla into their salary structure once Chipper retires, likely after next season.

    --Jason "it feels like forever since the Braves had a 30+ homer guy in the middle of the lineup -- I know it hasn't been, but it feels that way" Evans
    -Jason "the rumor is Florida kept asking for Prado, but the Braves would not let him go" Evans
    I tend to agree with this blogger. With few exceptions, any reliever is usually worth trading for a power bat if you need power. The Braves have a good number of relieving prospects either on their way up or already on the roster. As for Infante, he had a great year and I will miss him, but he really isn't quite an everyday player and, as someone said above, had a career year that he is unlikely to repeat. In the meantime, Prado in left already makes our outfield a bit stronger. Uggla at second means bad defense but good hitting. I'll take it considering we've had mediocre hitting and mediocre to bad defense there since Chipper wend down at the end of last season. If all works out as planned and Chipper comes back strong, I'd like to add speed in centerfield if possible. A lineup up of a speedy CF, Prado, Chipper, Uggla, McCann, Heyward, Gonzalez, Freeman sounds pretty good to me. That lineup can be adjusted based on performance/pitcher matchups, as well. Against lefties, bat Prado, Chipper, Uggla in succession and against lefties you can flip the script. If Freeman has a tough rookie year, he's buried in the 8 hole. If he shows some flashes and Gonzalez starts to decline a little, we can switch them. Overall, I like this trade. Speed at the top of the order is first on my wish list now.

  18. #18

    uggla

    I love the Uggla deal, even though I do hate to give up Dunn (a VERY good relief prospect).

    Agree that he fits salary wise -- cheap next year, then probably takes Chipper's salary slot the year after (or brings something in a midseason deal if he doesn't).

    I STILL want to deal for a CF ... I have no faith in McLouth or in a Jordan Schaefer revival. Either of the Upton brothers would be fine (I'd prefer Justin .. BJ has had some attitude issues). It would probably cost a quality young pitcher to get an Upton (or another quality CF).

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympic Fan View Post
    It would probably cost a quality young pitcher to get an Upton (or another quality CF).
    Man, if we had one of those, he'd be playing in the majors already. OF, who do you see as a viable option? Do you think a Kemp or Rasmus (if they end up being available) would actually be worth it even if it meant giving up a top pitching prospect?

  20. #20

    arms

    Quote Originally Posted by COYS View Post
    Man, if we had one of those, he'd be playing in the majors already. OF, who do you see as a viable option? Do you think a Kemp or Rasmus (if they end up being available) would actually be worth it even if it meant giving up a top pitching prospect?
    Well, to get a quality CF, I think it would have to be a starter. Ideally, I'd love to trade Lowe for a young CF -- capitalizing on his strong finish. But that's just the fan in me talking. It's not going to happen. He's aging and his contract is just too big.

    Realistically, the best bet might be Jurrjens, who is young, proven and still relatively cheap. He's not an ace, but he's a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter and that's worth a lot.

    You might be able to get a decent young CF from one of the really cheap franchises for a package built around Minor or Beachey -- not proven, but both tested and very, very cheap at the moment.

    Then there is Julio Teheran ... I'm not sure if I would want to trade him, but he would worth a HUGE payoff. A 20-year-old righthander who is going to be listed soon as one of the five best prospects in all of baseball. And just behind him is Randall Delgado -- a very talented young arm.

    Now, I'm not suggesting that the Braves trade more than one or two of these guys, but you can see the depth at the position. Take Jurrjens out of the rotation and you still have Hudson, Lowe, Hansen, Minor and Beachey ... with Teheran and Delgado pushing from below. And don't forget Medlin -- he'll miss most of next year with surgery, but before his injury he was rated a better prospect than Minor or Beachey.

    Obviously, which pitcher you trade depends on who you can get. I'd give up a Jurrjens to get a Colby Rasmus or a Justin Upton or a Brett Gardner.

    Would I trade Teheran for Rasmus? That's a tougher call.

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