BravesBlast 2009 Christmas Wish List

Written by Jonathan on December 24, 2009 – 8:42 pm

Well it’s that time of the year.  The BravesBlast crew is putting together our Christmas wish list for this offseason and 2010.  While 2009 provided a lot of highlights and improvements over the year before, there are still a lot of improvements and changes needed.  So we’ll take a minute from the normal Christmas desires for Playstations and electronics and power tools to talk about one of the things we miss the most this time of year.

5.  Add another setup man. The bullpen for the Braves is going to look a little different come 2010.  Gone are the days of Soriano and Gonzo splitting time in the 8th and 9th innings.  If all goes as planned, the 2010 season will see a lot of Takashi Saito working the 8th and Billy Wagner working closing duty.  If Wagner can come back successfully from his Tommy John surgery and return to his dominant closer form, the Braves will be a lot better off than they have been.  What we’d like to see however is one more quality setup man to help bridge the gap to the 8th/9th duo.  Bobby’s known for utilizing the bullpen a good bit (no thanks to the lack of quality starting pitching we saw before the 2009 season), but it can never hurt to have quality relievers to bail out your starters if need be.

4.  More offensive threats. It’s not a big secret that the Braves lack a big-name offensive threat since the departure of Mark Teixeira.  Let’s put some numbers behind it.  Last season, the Braves hit 149 home runs, ranking 22nd out of the 30 teams in the majors.  First place?  244.  And while the Braves may have the 5th best team batting average in the National League, they have only the 10th best slugging percentage; that equates to the 22nd ranked slugging percentage in all of baseball.  Offense isn’t just hitting however.  The Braves often lack the ability to be aggressive on the base path.  2009 saw all of 58 stolen bases for the Braves; next to last in baseball.  Having a little more power in the lineup however would open up a lot more opportunities for the team.

3.  Solidify the outfield. I’ve had issues with the outfield for the Braves for awhile now.  I still agree with the decision to move Francoeur just not necessarily what we got in exchange.  I’m happy to have McLouth around until we can bring up some of our prospects (which, by the way, we have a very stout outfield in the making if we can keep out prospects around).  I’m still not thrilled about the addition of Melky Cabrera, but I’m happy with some of the other pieces we got out of that trade.  So what’s the answer?  I say try to track down another power-hitting outfielder that can help with that previous item on my wish list.

2.  Find the next Bobby Cox. I know it’s not on the mind much yet, but this is Bobby’s last season managing the Braves and, while the focus needs to be on the season at hand, the future is important as well.  So the question is, who is the best option to fill the shoes of one of the most revered managers in the game?  To be honest, my answer to that question right now is that I just don’t know.  In the end, it needs to be someone that can maintain a positive clubhouse attitude……and get thrown out of games as well as Bobby (though that may just be a personal preference).

1.  Going all the way for Bobby. With it having been decided that 2010 is Bobby’s last year at the helm of the Braves, it’s only right that we send him out with the best season possible.  The ideal situation obviously is to get out there and take it all the way, but let’s start by focusing on what needs to happen in Atlanta.  We need playoff baseball back.  After so many years of getting used to having a few guaranteed October games, things have cooled off a little.  Let’s get Bobby back to the playoffs one last time!

So there you have it.  That’s what we’re looking for out of the organization as Christmas presents to us and the rest of the Braves family.  What’s on your wish list for the Braves?

Happy Holidays Everyone!

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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.


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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