First, please forgive me for the title of this post. You knew it was coming somewhere in the article, so I figured I’d get it out of the way up front. The Braves have been after the left handed Ohman this offseason and have made him what Ohman termed “a very strong offer intended to show me they want me back.”
And even though the Braves extended that offer early in the offseason, Ohman hasn’t signed. Why? He’s in fairly high demand. Besides the Braves, Ohman has also been linked to the Phillies, the Nationals, the Padres, the Orioles, Indians, Rockies, Cardinals, and Rays – at least. Oh, and today it was reported that the Mets gave him a call for the first time this offseason. Dirty New Yorkers.
Where will he end up? Good luck guessing. The Braves’ offer is still on the table. Ohman has told the AJC that he wants to sign with the Braves – but I’d assume they’re asking for a little more money than we’re offering. If the Mets sweep him away, I am not going to be a happy man. I’m sure they’ll try and offer more money – and I’m not sure the Braves want to spend tons more money than they’ve already offered to bring Ohman back. We don’t have THAT much budget flexibility.
One thing is clear: Ohman is a valuable lefty that will benefit whatever team lands him. He had a 3.68 ERA last season, but held lefties to a .197 batting average – which is what he’ll be used for primarily. We can only hope that the Braves land him to bolster their already promising bullpen, which is promising to be one of the better bullpens in recent memory, barring the Mike Hampton effect.
C’mon back to Atlanta, Will. We’d love to have you. Hope to see you at the Wide World of Sports in just a few days!
Tags: Will Ohman, Will the Braves Sign Will Ohman?
Posted in Speculation | 11 Comments »
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
Posted in General, Roster Moves, Speculation | 53 Comments »
The Braves are in the thick of the race for Derek Lowe – SI reports today that the Braves have offered something akin to $60M over four years. This beats the Mets offering, which is around $36M for three years. Lowe, if you didn’t know, was 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA last season with the Dodgers.
If you think the Braves are done this offseason, it looks like they’re finally ready to play ball with the biggest pitcher left on the market and have a pretty decent rotation by the time September rolls around. Imagine Lowe, Jurrjens, Kawakami, Vazquez, and Hudson. We’d have Morton and Hanson, in the wings. I’d think that maybe Campillo goes back to the ‘pen this year as our long reliever. The Braves still need to add a bat to replace the hole left by Mark Teixeira. I pray to heaven it doesn’t involve Andruw Jones, as some suggest. If we can muster enough offense to make it to the postseason, we’ll have a mean rotation IF we land Lowe.
The Braves also signed Omar Infante to a two-year deal, with a team option for a third year. Omar was pretty good for us as a utility player last year. He hit .293 with 24 doubles and 40 RBIs.
Remaining shopping list:
- Big bat
- Sign Will Ohman
- Extend Chipper’s Contract
C’mon Braves, sign Lowe so we can be somewhat optimistic about the upcoming season. Mets fans, you can go sit on a tack.
Tags: Braves courting Lowe, Chipper Jones, Derek Lowe, New York Mets, Omar Infante, Will Ohman
Posted in Roster Moves, Speculation | 3 Comments »
Rumor on the street has it that the Braves have turned their attention towards Jays’ starter AJ Burnett. Burnett’s agent said the Braves were one of six teams “fully engaged” in negotiations. Burnett wants a 5 year deal at around $15m a season, which is a bit of a risk seeing as how he hadn’t racked up more than 12 wins before this year. In 2008, Burnett was 18-10, posted a 4.07 ERA, and struck out 231 in 221 2/3 innings to lead the AL in K’s. Burnett is reported to have received a princely offer from the Yankees as well, who are out to gut the starting pitching market like the money spending whores they are. The Braves have something going for them in that Burnett “respects the hell out of” Bobby Cox from his days in the NL East as a Marlin and is friends with Chipper Jones.
The Braves have also reportedly made inquiries about Derek Lowe, who pitched in Boston last season. Lowe is a Bor-ass client, which means we’ll have a tough time getting him without offering THE top dollar. We’ll see what happens, but I’m not holding my breath and waiting for Lowe to end up here. I have what you may call Lowe expectations.
The team also made a serious offer to left-hander Will Ohman, who says it was intended to make him understand they wanted him back. Ohman will make a decision in December, but he’s received interest from at least 10 teams.
More to come, in our trademark sporadic method of delivery. All rights reserved. Don’t try and be inconsistent if you blog – we’ll sue your ass.
Tags: A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe, Will Ohman
Posted in Speculation | 1 Comment »
All indications are pointing towards the Braves taking a passive approach to the non-waiver trade deadline. Here are the Braves related notes I have been hearing as of this morning:
- Mike Gonzalez - The Braves closer has received interest from the Texas Rangers organization. The Rangers, in desperate need of bullpen help would be willing to trade an outfielder for Gonzalez. Outfielders could include David Murphy, Frank Catalanotto, Brandon Boggs or Marlon Byrd. While the Braves need an outfielder, it would be unwise to sell Gonzalez at this low of a price. He has a top-5 closer ceiling, it would be painful to see that production in another organization. Murphy and a top prospect might get the trade done however. For those who do not know David Murphy yet — he is a hard-nosed player that pounds the gaps hard. He will not be an all-star but has some above-average years in him. The rest of that crew would not be an attractive solution to our problems with outfield power.
- Mark Teixeira – The Braves have apparently started to seriously consider moving Teixeira. CBS Sportsline has a report up stating that the Braves have made a list that includes Boston, Los Angeles (AL), Tampa Bay, and Arizona of potential trading partners. These are four organizations with deep minor league systems that could really turn into a bidding war if two or more organizations get involved in this deal. I don’t see how Tampa Bay is interested in this because they have a long term commitment to Carlos Pena who has power and plays great defense, much like Teixeira. Putting one of the two at DH would be a detriment to those two players. A new rumor that was floating around is Robb Quinlan and Brandon Wood of the Angels to the Braves for Teixeira. That is a terrible offer if that is indeed the truth. Quinlan is a career bench player and Wood’s star has burned a lot dimmer in recent years since hitting 43 home runs in 2005 at High-A Ranco Cucamonga. Also, where does Wood fit on this team? He is a third-baseman/shortstop. There isn’t a place for him this season. Los Angeles would be a lot closer offering Casey Kotchmann and Juan Rivera.
- Tim Hudson – His name has been mentioned once, but it is highly doubtful that the Braves would be interested in moving their ace.
- Mark Kotsay – He has just this year left on his contract but has played well despite some injuries. I have doubts that they could get much for him – but you never know.
- Will Ohman – This is a name that may be mentioned more frequently over the next few days. While I have not heard of any specific deals in which Ohman might be involved in, he has put together a great season and is a lefty. I can’t imagine anything that might make him more attractive.
- Jeff Francoeur was mentioned by Braves.com today in trade rumors – though this may be shocking to some people, he’s not doing well at all. The Royals may be interested – their GM was formerly in the Braves organization.
It may be 4:01 on July 31st when the baseball world finally knows what the Braves intentions were for this trade season. Rumors will continue to flutter around and we may not know what’s going on until it happens.
- Dan & Colin
Tags: Jeff Francoeur, Mark Kotsay, Mark Teixeiar, Mike Gonzalez, Tim Hudson, Will Ohman
Posted in General, Speculation | 14 Comments »
Back in February, I wrote a post called “5 Keys to 2008 Bullpen Success” and identified five points I thought would be crucial to have a successful bullpen. Let’s see how the bullpen has done compared to those five points.
#1 – Rafael Soriano is lights out as closer.
#2 – Peter Moylan eats up innings – and stays effective.
#3 – Will Ohman fills the left-handed setup role.
#4 – The emergence of an effective long-reliever.
#5 – The healthy return of Blaine Boyer and Mike Gonzalez.
Well, I got three out of five right. Ohman has been great, and Boyer and Gonzalez have been healthy, but Soriano hasn’t seen much time and Moylan is out recovering from Tommy John surgery.
And yet the Braves’ bullpen is one of the best in the NL – we have the third best ERA (3.22) and the best Batting Average Against (or BAA at .224). We’ve also give up the third fewest runs in the NL. Our BAA is second only to the Tampa Bay
This is thanks in no small part to Will Ohman, Blaine Boyer, and Manny Acosta. For the crap we give Bobby for over-using Acosta, Manny is a really good pitcher when he’s not overused. The return of Mike Gonzalez has been crucial to a stable back end of the ‘pen, and we should see that get even stronger as Rafael Soriano nears his return.
As we head into the second half of the season, our bullpen has to continue to impress to give us a chance for our hitting to win us some games. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I’d say we’re in a good spot and on a good track.
Who’s the most indispensable arm in the bullpen so far?
Edit: You just can’t make this stuff up…It seems Mike Hampton tweaked his hamstring after 2 IP in his latest rehab start, you just have to feel for the guy. He gave up one home run, no word on the severity of his injury yet. More details later.
Edit2: He tweaked his groin in the first inning and pitched a second, still no word on the severity, but said his super-surgically repaired arm felt great.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Braves Bullpen, Blaine Boyer, Bullpen, Manny Acosta, Mike Gonzalez, Peter Moylan, Rafael Soriano, Will Ohman
Posted in General | 12 Comments »
I’d like to consider myself a good sport. Sure, I can trash-talk with the best of them. Especially if it’s about giving the Mets a hard time. But generally, I am good about recognizing excellence, even when it comes in the guise of a non-Braves uniform.
And I’d like to be able to tip my hat, in a gentlemanly manner, to Marlins starter Scott Olsen. Sure, he went seven innings without walking a guy or giving up a run. I’d like to say our team just knuckled under to his superior talents and couldn’t score on his pitching wizardry.
But I can’t. Because he stinks.
Not as a person, maybe, but as a pitcher. Every number he had last year was considerably worse than the year before. In fact, the fish, as a team, had one of the worst ERA’s in baseball headed into tonight.
So what happened? Simply put: the Braves stunk worse.
At every turn, we (and yes, I will continue to say “we” when the team loses) gave up opportunities, failed to wake up the offense, and above all, really let down Jair Jurrjens’ solid showing. To be honest, Jurrjens has not pitched a bad game this season.
The Braves went down to Florida hoping to compensate for the recent spat of pitching injuries by busting out some offense on one of the WORST pitching staffs in baseball. Alas, it was not to be so.
Want to know how bad? You sure? Ok, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Six hits-with two apiece coming from two different players. Never mind that Jurrjens went six and gave up only two earned runs. And the two that Ohman walked in didn’t improve matters any. But say he hadn’t walked in two. That would leave us still with a big fresh goose egg in the offensive column.
Yes, I am a “homer.” I drink from the Braves KoolaidTM 24/7. But I also pride myself on calling a black cat black. And the Braves just stunk tonight. We’ve got to find that one thing that can turn this around. Any suggestions?
Well, on the bright side, Kelly Johnson’s hitting streak was extended to 11 games.
Tags: Florida Marlins, Jair Jurrjens, Kelly Johnson, Scott Olsen, Will Ohman
Posted in Game Analysis | 10 Comments »
It’s not often you hear Bobby Cox call someone “sensational” – especially a young pitcher after their first start. But Bobby didn’t hesitate to pull it out when talking about the 22 year old starter Jair Jurrjens, who made his first big league start for the Braves tonight. Jurrjens went 5.1 innings, struck out five, and gave up two earned runs on seven scattered hits and one walk. He notched not only his, but the Braves’ first win this season.
I was really impressed by Jurrjens. In the post-game interview, he kept beating himself up for the one walk. He didn’t seem happy or self-absorbed with the win or the five strikeouts. He didn’t mention the nasty changeup he throws without hesitation. He was upset with himself for the one walk and kept saying how he needs to limit the walks this season. Jurrjens didn’t even get in trouble until the sixth inning. And his fastball was around 93-94 all night long.
The bats weren’t silent either. Martin Prado started the evening at second in place of the injured Kelly Johnson (knee, day-to-day), and kicked the game off with a triple. Chipper knocked him in. Prado would go on to reach base 3 out of 5 times to the plate, scoring each of those times. Matt Diaz added a homer in the fourth.
Going into the 8th, the Braves led 3-2, before the floodgates opened. Both Yunel Escobar and Mark Teixeira broke out the long ball – Tex launching a two-run homer and Yunel going yard to put a three spot on the board. Add a few singles here and there, and the Braves ended up putting seven runs on the board in the eighth. Will Ohman came in and closed out the game in the ninth.
Great to see the Braves get their first win on the board – especially with the offense really clicking in the eighth. Jurrjens is going to be something special. He’s soft-spoken and modest, and has nasty stuff to back it up. He is willing to learn from the older guys and will really benefit from that throughout the season. Hopefully we’ll continue to have Teixeira break out the bat, as he had a slow spring. Also good to see our bullpen pitch 3.2 innings of scoreless relief. We’ll take that.
Braves are 1-2 and showing signs of life. Hampton on the mound tomorrow for Atlanta. Here’s praying he can stay alive through it.
Tags: Jair Jurrjens, Mark Teixeira, Martin Prado, Matt Diaz, Pittsburgh Pirates, Will Ohman, Yunel Escobar
Posted in Game Analysis | 10 Comments »
After last night’s loss to Cleveland, the Braves further thinned out their roster, getting ready for Sunday’s game against the Washington Nationals. Of course the most notable moves involved the ongoing battles for the limited number of backup spots on the roster.
Brent Lillibridge, impressive as he was in the first half of the spring, got sent back to AAA Richmond, where he’ll get more playing time. I think this is crucial, since either he or Escobar will likely be trade bait before too long. He needs to be playing all the time. Martin Prado gets to stay in Atlanta – his first time starting the season in the majors. Joining Prado (who played a few innings last night at first, by the way) is new acquisition Ruben Gotay, a switch-hitting contact hitter who can play second, third, and short.
In the outfield, Gregor Blanco beat out Josh Anderson for the backup job. Anderson got out-hit by Blanco this spring (.260 to .341) and despite his speed, Bobby couldn’t find a roster spot for him. I like Anderson though – if we have an issue mid-season with Diaz or Kotsay I’m sure we’ll see him (maybe even before Schafer, whom they might want to groom all season long).
Behind the plate, Corky Miller seems to have the backup job. Brayan Pena is still on the roster too, but he’s out of options and conventional wisdom says he’s traded by the end of the day. If Pena sticks around, he can pitch in at first as well.
So that leaves the five bench spots going to Blanco (OF), Gotay (IF), Prado (IF), Pena (C/1B) and Miller (C). I’m not sure what we’ll see happen if Pena is traded – maybe Anderson comes back up?
The Bullpen is finally solid, with slots going to Peter Moylan, Rafael Soriano, Manny Acosta, Will Ohman, Chris Resop, Royce Ring, and Blaine Boyer. I like this year’s ‘pen. Lots of arms who have the capacity to be good pitchers throughout the season.
Jeff Bennett and Buddy Carlyle are still fighting for the pitching slot left vacant by Smoltzie, who will start the season on the DL (it’ll be backdated and he’ll only miss one start). I’d give the edge to Bennett in this one – he’s been impressive, but Carlyle hasn’t put together a bad spring himself.
More as we hear it – our ears are to the ground today as we wait for the final moves to be made.
Tags: Blaine Boyer, Brayan Pena, Brent Lillibridge, Buddy Carlyle, Chris Resop, Corky Miller, Gregor Blanco, Jeff Bennett, Josh Anderson, Manny Acosta, Martin Prado, Peter Moylan, Rafael Soriano, Royce Ring, Ruben Gotay, Will Ohman
Posted in Roster Moves | No Comments »
Mark Teixeira blasted a 2 run home run to lead the Braves’ offense to a 10-2 win over the Nationals today. Jeff Bennett got the start and pitched four scoreless innings, another encouragement of a bit of depth this year in the rotation.
The rest of the Braves’ infield got a piece of the action as well – Escobar and Timmons knocked in a run each, McCann got his RBI, Lillibridge knocked in two, and Prado added three. Lillibridge and Prado are making the last bit of spring interesting as they battle for the backup infield slot. If I had to guess, I’d say Prado has the upper hand because Lillibridge would benefit from playing full-time in Richmond. Either he or Yunel is going to become trade bait before too long.
Will Ohman got the win, despite giving up the Nationals’ only two runs in his inning of work, in which he gave up three hits. Soriano, Moylan, Acosta, and Ridgway all added a scoreless inning of their own on the mound, though they each walked one and struck out nobody.
Good to see the Braves’ offense moving heading into the season. I’m glad Tex had a big day – he’s had a slow start and I for one want him to have the biggest contract year anyone’s ever had. And then I want to re-sign him.
Tags: Brent Lillibridge, Brian McCann, Jeff Bennett, Mark Teixeira, Martin Prado, Preseason, Will Ohman, Yunel Escobar
Posted in Game Analysis | No Comments »
Frank Wren let loose this past weekend with a couple interesting tidbits regarding roster options heading into the season. Firstly, there are trade talks surrounding many of the out of options players. Secondly, the Braves have the payroll flexibility to add a player with a $3-4 million if necessary. This puts us in a good position as Bobby and Frank finalize the 25-man roster.
Wren has said that teh Braves will take whatever player is the best fit for the team, and shop the other players around. If the Braves don’t trade their out of options players, they’ll likely lose them on the waiver wire with no compensation. What do other teams want with our leftovers? Let’s break it down by player:
Corky Miller looks to be the favorite to win the backup catcher position, leaving Pena without a place. He’s a switch hitter and can play first and third as well as outfield, which will make him in demand and valuable to other organizations.
Thorman has at times shown power potential that is interesting to some teams. I’m really not sure what we’d be able to get for him – he’s not been very successful (putting it lightly) in his time in the big leagues, not to mention this spring. He’s hitting .140 this spring.
The bullpen is congested – seven spots are available, but five of them appear to be spoken for. Soriano, Moylan, Acosta, Bennett, and Ohman appear to be locks. This leaves Blaine Boyer, Royce Ring, Chris Resop, and Tyler Yates competing for two spots. Ridgway will likely get sent to AAA as he still has options left. Boyer and Resop have been impressive and likely are the leaders for the last two spots (Resop has averaged a strikeout per inning, and Boyer has a 2.25 ERA in seven outings). This leaves Yates and Ring.
Yates has been unimpressive so far this spring. He’s walked 10 in 7 innings. He’s also given up 7 hits. But he’s a steady arm and will likely settle down once the season is moving. For a team that needs depth in the bullpen, he could be an important addition.
Royce Ring has immediate value to many bullpens because he’s a lefty, and left-handed specialists are in short supply. This is the same reason the Braves may keep him – if they want another lefty to join Ohman, they may not want to wait for Mike Gonzalez to get healthy mid-season. We’ll see what happens – he’d be useful to a lot of teams out there.
For one, I appreciate that the Braves are leaving enough room in their finances to be able to spend money going into the season. I also appreciate that Wren isn’t just going to ship our guys through waivers and hope they make it to the minors. We won’t know the magnitude of the goings on until the trigger is pulled on the trades, but as we hear it, we’ll report it.
Tags: Blaine Boyer, Brayan Pena, Chris Resop, Jeff Ridgway, Royce Ring, Scott Thorman, Trade Rumors, Tyler Yates, Will Ohman
Posted in Roster Moves, Speculation | 8 Comments »
The Braves lost to the Detroit Tigers today 9-6, in a game that saw doubt cast on Mike Hampton’s healthy return. Hampton left after pitching 1 1/3 innings today after he apparently slightly strained his right groin. Acosta, Ohman, and Campillo combined to give up six earned runs, and 2 errors by Chipper and Escobar contributed to the other three unearned runs. Matt DeSalvo pitched two perfect innings – he continues to impress.
Despite the error, Yunel Escobar continued his strong offensive start by going 2-3 and scoring a run. He’s now batting .526 in the preseason – so those of you who say he won’t match Edgar Renteria’s offensive output may need to reconsider. He’s looking mighty strong.
Offensively Chipper is doing well also – He was 2 for 2 with 2 RBIs and a run scored. Over at PhilliesFlow, Erik wrote that he doesn’t think Chipper/Yunel will be the most potent SS/3B combo in the East, and I think he’s wrong. Wright and Reyes are good, but Yunel is legit. Earlier today I likened Yunel replacing Edgar Renteria to Chipper replacing Terry Pendleton back in the day – it was a seamless transition.
So back on the horse tomorrow again for a set of split squad games – one against the Reds and another against the Astros. We’re playing the Astros’ split squad, but the full Reds team – which is probably a bit more of a fair matchup against our split squad. Look for Buddy Carlyle and Jo-Jo Reyes to make the starts for the Braves tomorrow.
In other news, Soriano and Moylan are feeling good – Soriano pitched a 32 pitch bullpen session and Moylan is resting for precautionary reasons so he can stay healthy all season. That bodes well for our bullpen.
Tags: Chipper Jones, Matt DeSalvo, Mike Hampton, Peter Moylan, Preseason, Rafael Soriano, Will Ohman, Yunel Escobar
Posted in Game Analysis | 3 Comments »