Remaining Roster Needs

Written by Colin on January 14, 2009 – 9:18 pm

The Braves went into the offseason with several needs:

Two Starting Pitchers

We’ve acquired three. Ace-to-be Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami signed as free agents. The third, Javier Vazquez, was acquired via trade from the White Sox. The three pitchers will augment the Braves’ Jair Jurrjens as the four regular starters (all can eat innings), and we’ll likely see Jorge Campillo, Charlie Morton, and perhaps Tommy Hanson fight for the fifth rotation spot. Now that we’ve got a stable rotation, look for the Braves not to rush Hanson to the big leagues, though he’ll be ready in a year or two to start regularly. When Tim Hudson comes back from Tommy John surgery late in the season, he’ll provide the Braves with one of the best rotations late in the season, if he’s true to form. The Braves’ rotation won’t be something to sneeze at, even though it’s not going to be the best rotation in the history of baseball.

An Outfield Bat

I’d imagine the Braves are still looking to fill this need. Even though we’ve got Jeff Francoeur, Matt Diaz, Josh Anderson, Gregor Blanco, Brandon Jones, and Jordan Schafer as options, we need a bat to help replace the hole left by Teixeira’s departure and to protect Chipper in the lineup. If the Braves do sign someone, it will only be for a year or two, because in addition to the players I already listed, Gorkeys Hernandez and Jason Heyward are outfield prospects in the minor league system, just two-three years away. Maybe Heyward switches to first, but there’s still a glut of good prospects waiting to play outfield for the Braves. I don’t know if we fill this or go with young talent, but if we want to compete in the NL East, we probably need another bat somewhere in the lineup. Left field is a logical position for that bat to play. If I were Wren, I’d look at Bobby Abreu for this role.

Extending Chipper’s Contract

Please, Braves, do this now. Smoltz didn’t retire here, but Chipper needs to. We’re starting to get a reputation for getting the best years out of our players, making this their home, and sending them elsewhere to die. See Aaron, Murphy, Justice, Maddux, Glavine (though he left of his own free will), and now Smoltz. Don’t let it happen to Chipper.

A Backup Catcher

Done. It flew under the radar, but the Braves signed Dave Ross to a two-year deal to back up Brian McCann early in December. He’ll make ~$1.5M each year he’s here. The Braves have been resting McCann once a week or so to try and save his knees, so we’ll see some time out of Ross. Ross hit .225 with 3 HRs and 13 RBI last year for Cincinnati and Boston in 142 at-bats in 60 games.

Summary

The Braves will now turn to signing a bat for the outfield, extending Chipper’s contract, and re-signing Will Ohman. Once that’s done, I’d say we’re set for this offseason. I don’t think we’ll see the Braves sign any more starting pitchers. Setup arms in the ‘pen will come via Campillo and our farm system. Think I missed anything? Made bad assumptions? Make a comment and we’ll have some discussion about it.

Ignoring The Bad

By the way, I’m ignoring everything that didn’t go right. Rather not talk about it – no reason to dwell on it!


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Posted in General, Roster Moves, Speculation | 53 Comments »


53 Responses to “Remaining Roster Needs”

  1. By RueGrant on Jan 15, 2009 | Reply

    wow where did you get the idea to write this one?! ;) yes, i know i should be writing right now, but…. i'm going to bed.

    good work colin dear.

    by the way, did you read chipper's interview where he implies that he'd leave? i think maybe it was heat of the moment with the whole smoltz thing, but i wouldn't put it past him. and honestly, i don't blame smoltz either. i think that there isn't much to it, and the fact of the matter is that the front office was wrong.

  2. By Colin Ake on Jan 15, 2009 | Reply

    You should be writing right now. I have to be at work early too, and I still wrote this article.

    I think Chipper would leave too. I'd leave if I were Smoltz. We'd all go work somewhere else for twice the money, even if it's not in the millions of $ amount. I want to see Chipper end his career here – so I want us to sign him to an extension pronto. Just my preferences… I know some people may disagree, but he's a production machine and should retire a Brave.

  3. By josh on Jan 15, 2009 | Reply

    I don’t want to harp on it but I really want Abrue in this line up. I think you are right on the money with everything in your article Colin. It’s starting to make me a little upset the more interviews I have been hearing from Smoltz the last couple of days. It's obvious that he is more than a little bitter about the front office of the Braves.( mostly Terry McGuirk ) He keeps saying the only reason he stayed in Atlanta as long as he did was for Bobby. I just want the whole thing to start to die down. As for Chipper I would want a 2 year extension with a player option for the 3rd year. I think the Braves could offer this deal if we are still in the hunt late July into August.

  4. By Colin Ake on Jan 15, 2009 | Reply

    I'd be fine with 2-3 year extension for Chipper. The Braves need to do it now though – they told Chipper it was a priority this offseason and by not following through on it, they're not helping their case.

    We'll see if the Braves go after Abreu, Dunn, or just keep it in-house. I have no way of knowing and any guess would be just a guess.

  5. By Grant on Jan 15, 2009 | Reply

    Looks more and more like that outfield bat is going to be Andruw Jones, at least that's the impression I'm getting. There may be some other option out there – perhaps Andruw going back to center and a Nick Swisher deal. Jones looked in much better shape on Fox5 the other night.

    Oh, speaking of another former Brave who left in the twilight of his career, Ed Mathews hit homer number 500 as a member of the Houston Colt '45s

  6. By Sheryl on Jan 15, 2009 | Reply

    OMG…did they not watch Andruw the last 2 years??? His bat was horrid his contract year–that usually NEVER happens. Sign Andruw and let Smoltzie leave…that makes so much sense!

  7. By Colin Ake on Jan 15, 2009 | Reply

    Yeah, I saw that the Dodgers are going to clear Andruw off the roster and had a bad feeling about it. I'm not opposed to signing him to a minor league contract and letting him come try to prove himself – I just don't have very high hopes.

    Thanks for the Mathews heads up – I forgot about that.

  8. By Stephen on Jan 15, 2009 | Reply

    I don't know what the big fuss about Andruw's batting average is. He always hovers around .255, he has never hit for average. In fact, he's hit above .280 once his whole career. I'd be perfectly fine with Andrum coming in to hit .235 but still hit 42 home runs. ( he's continued to provide power these last 2 years) Plus he's still got a good glove.

  9. By Stephen on Jan 15, 2009 | Reply

    I'd rather have Nady than anyone else in left. I just hope we dont get that God awful Nick Swisher. Of course while we're at it we might as weel throw in the dream perfect situation of trading a combination of Kelly/Prado/Anderson/Jones/Lerew to get Michael Young from the Rangers. Michael Younf said he would play second, which would make the left side of our infield Chip-Escobar-Young. Not that the Rangers need anymore young talent, they have the best farm system in baseball right now.

  10. By Grant on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Wouldn't it be wonderful to give the Rangers a few more of our good cheap young players in favor of rather expensive players that they can't seem to keep happy? Young's contract is ridiculous too.

  11. By Akshay982 on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    seriously, Young's contract is about $10 mill more than KJ's will be this year and will only go up. Plus offensively, KJ was much better than Young in his first two seasons in the bigs. Give him time.

  12. By Marty on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Young is way overpriced and does not fill a need for us. Dunn is a poor contact hitter and an atrocious fielder wherever he plays. By all accounts, Abreu's fielding is simply awful as well. I don't think that sacrificing outfield defense would be very smart, given the cavernous outfield Turner Field has…and we don't exactly have the Andruw of old patrolling center field anymore.

  13. By Connor on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    You understand Michael Young has negative value right? He was below average offensively and defensively last year, and he has 5 years and 80 million still coming. That's one of the worst dream situations I've ever heard.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=128

  14. By derek b on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Why do you think Will Ohman has been under the radar for so long now? He's a very durable guy, and I would have thought he would have been one of the first FAs to sign somewhere. Besides the Braves, who do you think is still in on Will? Where do you think he'll land in the next couple weeks? Thanks….By the way, I agree on 1-2 years for Abreu if its somwhat close to Burrell's contact.

  15. By Bravo99 on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    I say go for Jermaine Dye, who is still a fantasic hitter and one the Braves gave away. He's got two or three good years left that will take the Braves to Heyward and company

  16. By Braves Fan on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    It's like you live in opposite land. Nady had half of one good season. He's basically a ~105 OPS+ player, which is what he reverted back to when he got to the Yankees last year. Swisher is around a 125 OPS+ player who had one bad season.
    The idea of trading KJ with prospects for Young is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I guess it's possible that Young's defense could make up for the offensive drop from KJ, but there's no way it makes up for the salary difference. Kelly Johnson is probably adds more value than Young right now.

  17. By derek b on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Thanks God Stephen is not Atlanta's GM.

  18. By GTechAchilles on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    i agree i like Dye out in left. hes solid.

  19. By CAMIFAN on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    I agree that the Braves need to signan outfielder. Andruw Jones has something to prove and for $400, 000 why not sign him? He loses alittle weight and listens to Terry Pendelton who knows what may happen? The other outfielders? Sign Bobby Abreu, a proven veteran who will provide leadership. Signing Chipper Jones and having retire a Atalanta Braves is a must! Thats a no-brainer. Chipper is such a team player . Smoltz leaving was hard, but the Braves couldn't afford players that might get hurt, I'm a big Smoltz fan and hopes he stays healthy for Boston and gets another ring. If not Abreu I wouldn't mind seeing Nick Swisher come to Atlanta.

  20. By jadarm on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    This is my first time here…glad I happened up on you. MLB TradeRumors linked to your site. I am a huge Braves fan and was shocked to see that Smoltzie left…I honestly thought that he would end his career in Atlanta and that he and Bobby would retire together.

    As for extending Chippers contract, I dont know that I would necessarily do that at this point. I dont want him to leave and I would like to see him retire as a Brave as well but this is a business after all. Chipper is probably the best hitter I have ever seen come through our farm system but he just gets hurt way too much. I definately wouldnt overpay for him. I think he is comfortable in Atlanta and would take less to remain…but since he is still kind of hot from the Smoltzie situation, now may not be the best time to approach him.

    As for Andruw? Sign him to a one year minor league contract and let him earn the position in spring training. Lose some weight Andruw, come in, earn the spot, …and have a heckuva season and get your contract price up there for next winters free agent class.

  21. By coachrob on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    They want a right hand bat I know, but Nady and Swisher will cost us too much from the Yanks cause they know how we need them. I like Garret Anderson, and keep harping on him, but the guy is VERY productive. Last year he hit .293/15/83 and he hit .290 vs. lefties. He has been a part of a very successful and well run club in Anaheim (LA whatever), and he could definitely protect Chipper. With Mac behind him, his numbers will increase as well. We do that, and we'll be even better off than we are now. We've finally got some guys who can at least get it close to Gonzo, who, I think, will be an elite closer with 40+ saves this season. A lot to look forward to, I think.

  22. By Voice of Reason on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    The truth is that there is no perfect fit. Dye comes close, but his $11.5M salary this year is a stretch. Nady comes close, but he isn't really a cleanup hitter, and he's another one year rental. Swisher can knock 'em, but he makes alot of outs, too. Abreu? Not a good defender and the Braves are getting back to the "pitching and defense" mentality that underscored their 14 year division winning run. Griffey? Maybe, but he really isn't a #4 hitter anymore, either. My money says they wait until the middle of Spring Training to see who becomes available then.

  23. By chad on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    he got spoiled here with the braves and got in to many bad habits

  24. By SeanTluchak on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    If you read any of the interviews with Smoltz or the other players (see Frenchy's lastest) you can see that Smoltz didnt leave for money. The Braves did him a favor by offering him less g'teed money becuase it gave him an excuse to go. The reason he left was for another shot to pitch in the playoffs. Its unfortunate he didnt have more faith in the Braves this year. I love the guy and I wish him the best. Still wont root for the Red Sox though…..

  25. By Trey on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    I think you made a decent summary of this offseason so far. I especially like the part about not talking about the bad stuff. Although I think it would be great to look at Bobby Abreu, I don’t think the team has the money that he’d be looking for. If there still is some money to spend, I like the idea of signing Orlando Hudson to play 2B and then moving KJ to LF. I like KJ as a 2B but O-Dog is gold glove caliber and spark plug on offense. And KJ in left keeps his bat in line-up. He has the potential to be a 20 HR guy and hit around .280. Maybe moving him to the outfield can take some pressure off of him defensively and allow him to concentrate on hitting and getting on base.

  26. By Mike on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Do the Braves have enough money left to sign a 10 Million 1year deal on a bat???

    What is everyones take????

  27. By mike on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Do the Braves have enough money left to sign a 10 Million 1year deal on a bat???

    What is everyones take????

  28. By Larry312 on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    If you saw the interview with Andruw the other night you will notice he has already lost a lot of weight. I think takin a shot with him for a cheap paycheck (hes already making 5 mil from the dodgers). A little time with Pendelton could do wonders for him, its happened before. Abreu would be nice but the truth of the matter is the Braves are about out of money and still have to reach deals with Gonzalez, Johnson, and Francouer. We're better off signing A. Jones and come July, if we're in contention, trade for someone to carry us into the playoffs.

  29. By Larry312 on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    I agree. O-dog is fantastic defender. He is an offensive catalyst. KJ could be suited for LF. I'm really impressed with his hitting, he's really coming into his own now. I think Francouer will rebound now that he knows the affects of gaining to much weight. He started coming around at the end of the year. I see Prado as a fill in. He can give chipper a day off when need be and can possibly play first for kotchman when a lefty is throwing. The more he's in the lineup the better i think. I heard that a few players refer to him as the second best hitter on the team.

  30. By jbayer80 on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    derek b. you have to be kidding me!!! I don't even know where to start with you. Will Ohman is "durable"?!?! Is that a joke? I really hope so. I would rather sign John Rocker back to a 5 year deal before signing Ohman to a league minimum for 1 year. And you want who for 1-2 years?!?!?!! you have to be out of your freakin mind. Go back to lala land and run for mayor.

  31. By Keith on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Whatever happens in left field, you can be sure it will be short term and cheap as the braves have nearly spent all their money. I suspect that the braves will use someone in their system and platoon them with Diaz…..maybe Brandon Jones and or Jordan. Jordan only if he knocks their socks off in Spring Training. The only way they sign a free agent would be if he fit in the budget. Maybe, Griffey or Anderson. But don't look for that to occur until late February or early March.

  32. By derek on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    I really like potato salad, do you like it too? I know Will Ohman does, that's why he will have to sign w/ the Braves again.

  33. By yer mama on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    O-dog? Nice nicname…

  34. By Keith on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Don't look for Dunn or any other high priced free agent. Remember, the braves HAD 40 mil to spend. Here's the breakdown:
    Kawakami 7.66 mil
    Lowe 15 mil
    Vasquez 12 mil
    Ross 1.75 mil
    Diaz 1.2 mil
    Infante 2.16 mil
    Norton 800,000

    That's 40 million on my calculator. The braves still must sign Francoeur, Johnson, Kotchman and Gonzalez. Therefore, don't even look for Will Ohman. The lefty specialist will be Boone Logan, Eric O'Flaherty or a Spring Training invite that comes from space. Fortunately, the braves have one of those every year.

  35. By CAMIFAN on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Hey :Larry312 I change my mind and agree with you. We need to take care of Francouer and Johnson and Gonzalez. Andruw looked alot slimmer in the clip I saw of him working out with Chipper Jones. The Braves would be stupid not to give him a look. Another free agent I think the Braves should consider if he would come cheap would be Kevin Millar. Back-up infielder and pinch hitter and great clubhouse guy. I like the Braves roster overall at this point.

  36. By Keith on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    It really could use some outfield power but the money has nearly dried up. I believe this rotation will get you to the 7th inning in decent shape in most games. The pen is one of the best. Having an ace is overrated in the regular season. It means more in a short season. This health of this pen will be the key.

  37. By Keith on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    The contracts of Kawakami, Lowe, Vasquez, Ross, Infante, Norton and Diaz all total to 40 million. Don't look for another big dollar free agent signing. I suspect the braves will platoon in left as Cox likes to do. The lefty specialist will be Boone Logan, Eric O'Flaherty or spring training invite. Wren's main concern was starting pitching and whatever was left the braves could have possibly signed Ohman. Don't look for that to happen now.

  38. By Keith on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Total the contracts and you will see the Braves have spent their 40 million dollars.

  39. By Keith on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    No Will Ohman either. Look for Eric O'Flaherty, Boone Logan or a Spring training invite to be the lefty specialist.

  40. By Keith on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Also, they will not sign Will Ohman.

  41. By Jonathan on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Keith, not sure why your comments are getting snagged by the spam filter, but I'm looking into it. I'll continue to manually pass them through for you until I get to the bottom of it.

  42. By coachrob on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Millar isn't a bad idea. Also, the O-Dog idea works for me as well. Would he move over to 2nd though?

  43. By Keith on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Orlando Hudson will command too money. They do not have the money. Besides they need to add a power bat.

  44. By Rodney on Jan 17, 2009 | Reply

    I can't believe any true Braces fan would forget Eddie Matthews #31…only the guy Chipper has been chasing his whole career. He caught though…so now extend Chip for 3 so he retires a Brave! I think a case can be made for O-Dog, even though we have spent a ton of money (for the Braves). Johnson in left works…well and O-Dog is better then Furcal would've been. If that does not happen, sign Abreu for 2 with an option and put him in right, and move Frenchy to left. He played right just fine for the yanks. I do not want to see AJ back in a Braves uniform…he left…stay gone, he dried up as testing came along and he has never had a great work ethic.
    I like the moves so far, despite being slow. I also want to see our young guys show up and get some seasoning…I already think we are a wildcard team and we haven't played yet. One good outfield bat is all we need! Go Braves!

  45. By Rodney on Jan 17, 2009 | Reply

    I can't believe any true Braves fan would forget Eddie Matthews #31…only the guy Chipper has been chasing his whole career. He caught though…so now extend Chip for 3 so he retires a Brave! I think a case can be made for O-Dog, even though we have spent a ton of money (for the Braves). Johnson in left works…well and O-Dog is better then Furcal would've been. If that does not happen, sign Abreu for 2 with an option and put him in right, and move Frenchy to left. He played right just fine for the yanks. I do not want to see AJ back in a Braves uniform…he left…stay gone, he dried up as testing came along and he has never had a great work ethic.
    I like the moves so far, despite being slow. I also want to see our young guys show up and get some seasoning…I already think we are a wildcard team and we haven't played yet. One good outfield bat is all we need! Go Braves!

  46. By Jesse on Jan 17, 2009 | Reply

    Well that may be, but I think that the Braves should turn their interests towards some high quality outfielders. They still have a good deal of money that they could use towards a good prospect. There is no doubt that they need an outfielder with a good glove, speed , and power. In my opinion, they need to heat up talks with guys like Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick.
    We could make a good trade for Nady or go after Abreu, Dye, or Garrett Anderson. Manny is also a good choice becase he will be in the HOF, he hits for power and is dominant in the postseason.

  47. By Colin Ake on Jan 17, 2009 | Reply

    I didn't forget him – I just wasn't aware of how he finished his career. I was only 5 when the Braves made their worst-to-first run, after all :)

    I don't think the Braves need Orlando Hudson – they need a power bat. But we'll see what happens.

  48. By Larry312 on Jan 17, 2009 | Reply

    I don't think they NEED O-dog either but would be nice to have. He is a solid defender for a rotation full of pitchers who pitch to contact. The power outfielder pool is to expensive for now. I think one of the best available is Abreu. He puts up consistent averages around .300 and hits around 25hr. Francuoer will rebound. Unfortunately for him he had to learn the hard way the effects of gaining to much weight. But we do have Brandon Jones who up til this year was considered an outfielder with good power. If we are unable to add a left fielder I seriously think Wren should give consideration to moving KJ to left and putting Prado at 2nd. Having Prado in the lineup more could improve us greatly. He showed this last year what he could be capable of given the chance to start consistently. I think he led the NL and possibly the majors in batting average for the month of August hitting somewhere around .340+

  49. By Rodney on Jan 17, 2009 | Reply

    Colin,
    Understood…44 and 31 my two all time favorites…of course they go right along with the 3 great pitchers and Chipper! I was 26. I agree we don't need O-Dog, but it would be a Nice to have.
    I would prefer Nady, but Abreu will do for two years.
    I see a lot of logic in Larry 312's comments…I wouldn't mind seeing that until the midway point if it doen't work.

  50. By MilwaukeeBraveFan on Jan 18, 2009 | Reply

    The only person on the free agent market that fits the Braves needs of a number 4 hitter is Manny so it is simple we have to fill the void by trade or by moving Chipper to the number 4 spot

  51. By MilwaukeeBraveFan on Jan 18, 2009 | Reply

    The only person on the free agent market that fits the Braves needs of a number 4 hitter is Manny so it is simple we have to fill the void by trade or by moving Chipper to the number 4 spot. I see the Braves have many more problems then power hitting outfielder. No lead-off hitter and no power at first. But i do believe that Anderson can fill the void of lead off altenating with Escobar. That said i would love to see a trade for Roberts a switch hitting lead off man who steals bases. and if you can keep Johnson then he can move to left. And then fill the power void bye either trading francouer for first base or hoping he will fill the void.

  52. By derekb on Jan 19, 2009 | Reply

    Why would I run for mayor when Im already the governer? Besides, John Rocker lives here too, and he is surely not coming back to the Braves.

  53. By Eddie Cole on Jan 20, 2009 | Reply

    Hudson would be a great improvement defensively at 2nd over KJ. I'm not so sure that Hudson would command that much money. Hudson would also be the leader hitter we are looking for plus give us much needed speed. Adding another power bat is not that crucial if Frenchy can get back to his oldself. With OH at 2nd the Braves infield could be the best in baseball.

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