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.
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!
Tags: Bobby Abreu, Brandon Jones, Braves 2009 Additions, Braves Offseason Goals, Braves Trade Rumors, Charlie Morton, Chipper Jones, Dave Ross, Derek Lowe, Gorkeys Hernandez, Gregor Blanco, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, Javier Vazquez, Jeff Francoeur, Jordan Schafer, Josh Anderson, Kenshin Kawakami, Matt Diaz, Tommy Hanson, Will Ohman
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