Fall League’s in full swing, rumor mill’s about to be

Phoenix – Greetings from the desert Southwest, where it’s a cloudless day with the temperature headed to the  mid-90s  and there’s another slate of Arizona Fall League games starting at 12:30 p.m. before intimate gatherings typically comprised of couple dozen scouts and about 75-100 assorted others,  including autograph hounds, girlfriends, potential girlfriends and those just fortunate to have the afternoon off.

(And if they’re unemployed, well, then at least they live in a place where they can go watch top prospects play in beautiful weather without crowds or high prices.)

Pals Freeman and Heyward figure prominently in Braves' future

Pals Freeman and Heyward figure prominently in Braves' future

So today we’re here in Peoria to see the Peoria Saguaros – that’s the team that has six Braves prospects on it (seven before Jason Heyward left with a strained back last week – face the Mesa Solar Sox in Peoria. Saw the same two teams play yesterday at HoHoKam Park (Cubs’ spring training site) in Mesa, where Mike Minor gave up a couple of runs and two hard-hit balls in the first inning, but was quite impressive for the rest of his three-inning stint.

Oh, before I forget, I’m suppoed to say you can follow me (and Carroll, when she’s with the team) on Twitter. You know what that means, right? Lineups as soon as they’re posted, and news as soon as we  get it in dugout, clubhouse, etc. (Also means the earth may have stopped turning on its axis, but that’s another story.) Anyway, if you’re into that sort of thing, and I hear that a great many are: @ajcbraves

Where were we? Oh, yes: Minor, the Braves’ top pick (seventh overall selection) from the June draft is not the reach that some have portrayed him to be. Not some lucky dude the Braves picked seventh because they were sure they could sign him. The lefty’s good, folks. Not overpowering, but throws plenty hard (91-92 mph fastballs yesterday), with an excellent changeup and a good curveball and slider. And he’s impressive on the mound, his demeanor and aggressiveness.

That’s the thing that really stands out — his mound presence. He’s in control of things out there, a mature guy who spent three years at Vanderbilt and learned a lot from the coaches and from a former Vandy teammate, lefty David Price.

Anyway, I’m going to write about him next week. Scouts I talked to at yesterday’s game were impressed, including a scout from the Rays, who had drafted Minor out of high school. I don’t know that we’ll see Minor during the 2010 season, though I wouldn’t rule out the possibility. A 2011 arrival seems more likely, though, after a full season in the minors.

He was the only Braves prospect I got to see yesterday, because 1B Freddie Freeman and SS Brandon Hicks weren’t in the lineup and relievers Craig Kimbrel, Lee Hyde and Jeff Lyman had all pitched on Saturday (they have a ton of pitchers on these teams and make sure not to overwork any of them).

Hopefully I’ll get to see the rest of the Braves’ pitchers today and/or tomorrow before I head back, with a tan and my craving for serious Mexican food and fish tacos having been temporarily satisfied. Freeman and Hicks are in the lineup today, Hicks at third base.

Driving around Phoenix in my rental car, I’ve had the excellent new REM live CD and recently released Meat Puppets CD, Sewn Together, cranked on the sub-standard stereo while I puff on a Padron (windows down; they frown on cigar smoking in rentals these days). They’re from Phoenix (Meats Puppets, not Padrons; Padrons are made in Miami), and they’ve lived to tell the tale after going through some heavy stuff that nearly killed one of them.

If you ever liked the Meat Puppets (or even if you didn’t or didn’t know their music), I’d suggest you give this CD a listen. Good weirdness, great rock. It’s one of my favorites from 2009, and I sure never thought I’d be saying that about anything by this band, which put out some seminal releases in the 1980s but had faded away for quite a while.

♣ Speaking of cranking things up: The World Series will be over soon, and the Braves and other teams will begin their offseason pursuits in earnest.

First up for the Braves is the expected announcement that Tim Hudson has signed a three-year extension.

Announcement any day now. No, really.

Announcement any day now. No, really.

That’s going to lead to a steady stream of rumors about which of the other Braves starters is going to be traded and where. Because as you know, they’re going to have a surplus of major league starters, six including Hudson, Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Kenshin Kawakami.

While there are about 45 million reasons they’d prefer to trade Lowe, there are also about 45 million reasons why that might not be possible (he’s owed $45 mill over the next three years after signing a $60 million deal 10 months ago and having one of the worst seasons of his career as a starter).

Vazquez, coming off arguably his best season and one of the best by any pitcher in the majors in 2009, is owed just $11.5 million in 2010 before he can become a free agent. If they had their druthers, the Braves would like to keep him, maybe re-sign him to a long-term deal. He’s a fine pitcher and teammate and a great example for the other pitchers, and Vazquez has made it known he’d prefer to stay in Atlanta, where he always wanted to pitch and where his first season was everything he’d hoped it would be (well, except for the Braves not making the playoffs).

But the Braves want to add a power hitter to their lineup, and the only pitcher they’re willing to trade who might bring back a power hitter is Vazquez. Teams aren’t likely to give up an affordable and/or young power hitter in return for Lowe, that’s for sure (the best the Braves could hope in a trade for Lowe would be to shed most of his salary without having to eat a big portion of it; the talent they’d get in return in such a trade would likely be minimal).

I don’t know that they’re interested in trading Kawakami just one year into a three-year, $23 million contract they gave the Japanese League veteran, the first player from Japan to play for Atlanta. And if they did trade Kawakami, he wouldn’t bring back the kind of hitter that Vazquez could fetch in a trade.

As much as they hate to trade Vazquez, there are also some questions whether he could repeat the type of performance he had in 2009. The veteran hasn’t put together back-to-back seasons like that one before, and if they don’t trade Vazquez now they run the risk of him having a mediocre season and then trying to trade him before the July 31 deadline or take a draft pick as compensation should they lose him to free agency a year from now.

Decisions, decisions.

What could lead the Braves to pull the trigger on a Vazquez deal is not just the hitter they might get in return, but obviously also the knowledge that they should still have one of the top starting rotations in baseball with Hudson, Lowe (who’s certainly not too old to expect a good rebound season), Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Kawakami.

So stay tuned. It won’t be too long before we start getting some news or at least rumors of substance.

♣ Closing and playing first base: The Braves haven’t indicated yet whether they’re going to make any effort to re-sign free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche either of their free-agent closers, Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez (blog favorite Garret Anderson, the Braves’ other prominent free agent, is expected to sign with an AL team).

I don’t see any way the Braves offer arbitration to Soriano, who made over $6 mill last season, but they could offer it to LaRoche and Gonzalez, assuring they’d get draft picks as compensation if they leave. Gonzo made $3.45 million, and the Braves have to decide if they’re comfortable with him possibly accepting arbitration and doubling that salary.

Wagner needs 15 saves to reach 400. Might he get them with Braves?

Wagner needs 15 saves to reach 400. Might he get them with Braves?

LaRoche made $7 million in 2009 and the Braves could probably afford to pay him an arb-set salary for one season, even if it approaches eight figures. That way they’d be assured of a draft pick if he signed elsewhere after they offered him arb. And if he stayed, he’d obviously be an ideal bridge to Freeman a year from now (provided Freeman’s ready a year from now, which isn’t a given but could be a reasonable assumption).

But do the Braves want to pay either of those guys — LaRoche and Gonzo — that much? That remains to be seen. If they don’t bring back LaRoche, they lose one of their best defensive players and best power hitter (at least second-half power hitter), and for a team looking to add power to its lineup, they would then have to either add a very big hitter at either an outfield position or first base, or a couple of hitters at those spots to make up the difference.

I don’t think the Braves can or would go to spring training expecting Heywad to fill a power-hitter role right away as a rookie, and if I had to guess I’d still say we don’t see him until June or so. But that could change, of course. Talk to me again in a month or two after we see how the Braves are going about things.

As for closer, there’s a couple or more schools of thought about how to go about filling the important spot, if it’s not with Gonzalez, or perhaps a Gonzo/Moylan combo? (Again, I don’t know that the Braves are ready to pay Gonzo what he’ll get, and by the way, I should add there’s probably not much risk in being stuck with an arb-set salary, because he’s going to get some multi-year offers I’m almost certain, and would thus not accept Braves arb offer. At least that’s how it seems to me).

Yes, there’s been speculation the Braves will check into Billy Wagner’s price tag. I can tell you Bobby Cox spoke highly of him over the past years, and raved about his stuff when Wagner returned from Tommy John surgery in that late-season appearance against the Braves this year, talking about how his stuff was as good as ever. He’s a “gamer” to Cox, and there is no higher praise from the manager.

But would Frank Wren want to give up a first-round draft pick to sign Wagner, who projects as a Type A free agent and could be offered arbitration by the Red Sox? The salary alone is a big cost, but giving up a possible first-round pick is a big thing for an organization that has put a lot more importance in recent years on building through the draft.

The Braves might instead opt to trade for a cheaper closer, someone who’s either served primary as a setup man but has closer-type stuff, or a youngster with closer experience and an affordable salary. Yes, I’ve heard speculation about Matt Capps being a possibility. Yes, he’s affordable for at least a couple more years. But is he the answer? He’s 25 and last season had a 5.80 ERA and 1.656 WHIP (after his stellar 0.969 WHIP and 3.02 ERA in 2008).

The Braves probably need a short-term closer, maybe for a year, while they try to develop their own guy. Kimbrel, the Braves’ minor league Pitcher of the Year, has closer stuff, including a 94-mph fastball. Just needs to keep the walks down, and he made a lot of progress this year while being promoted from A-ball to Double-A and finally Triple-A.

“He’s made great progress,” Wren said near the end of the season. “We’re talking about a kid who was pitching at Rome early in the season, and has made it all the way to Triple-A for the playoffs, pitched very well at Double-A. So he’s getting to the point where he’s not too far away, and he has power stuff.”

The Braves felt similarly about Joey Devine when they drafted him as a future closer a few years ago, but things didn’t turn out well after he was thrust into a major league role only a few months after being drafted out of N.C. State (remember the grand slams he allowed in his first two games?).

Kimbrel is being brought along carefully, and could have a legit shot at making the Braves’ bullpen this season and possibly getting consideration for closer a year from now. But that’s making assumptions and certainly no guarantee.

Just keep in mind that there are many ways to fill the closer role, and a lot of teams succeed in doing it without signing a big-time closer. Just look at this past season, when the Dodgers paid their young guy Jonathan Broxton $1.825 mill, and San Diego’s Heath Bell slid into the closer’s role formerly owned by Trevor Hoffman and made $1.25 mill while doing a fine job.

In St. Louis, well-traveled Ryan Franklin emerged as an All-Star closer this season at age 35, making $2.5 mill.

Anyway, just a way of saying that filling that role can be done a lot of ways.

♣ Alright, we’re underway here. It’s Sags vs. Sox, Solar. Forgot to mention the amazing episode of Mad Men two nights ago, built around the JFK assassination. That’s about as good as dramatic TV gets, that episode. It set up what promises to be a helluva season finale this Sunday. Between that and Sons of Anarchy, I’m gonna be bumming when both shows wraps up for the season.

My.Morning.Jacket

“TWO HALVES” by My Morning Jacket

Remember when you were seventeen

You goin’ crazy, you know what I mean

It wasn’t that long ago

In the grand scheme of things

It wasn’t that long ago

You think you’re so much smarter now

Twenty-one everything stays in place

Forty-one some things start to fade

Well when you’re so young, you wanna be older

And when you’re older, you want the body you have now

I believe in a perfect world

You rule your own universe

The only gun you’ll ever need will be in your brain

The only gun you’ll need is in your hands

You want this now you want that

Can’t have it all you should enjoy what you have

But I know what you want

Well I know what you want

Well I know what you want, you want the better of two halves!

Well I know what you want

Well I know what you want

Well I know what you want, you want the better of two halves!

2,702 comments Add your comment

O.J.

November 3rd, 2009
2:52 pm

DAP

November 3rd, 2009
2:57 pm

TnBrianWatching a guy play day in & out is how I would make my judgment, not just with stats,etc. I have no idea what kind of player Konerko really is.

stats actually really help in situations like this. give it a shot.

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
2:59 pm

Hicks just grounded into a first-pitch double play to end second inning, no score here in fabulous Peoria, practically in the shadow of that enormous, space station-looking Cardinals stadium in Glendale.

retired on the lake

November 3rd, 2009
3:03 pm

that’s takin’ a stab at it OJ

The Artist Formerly Known as Too Hot For Teacher

November 3rd, 2009
3:08 pm

Thanks for the new blog

Assuming we do try to trade one of the starting pitchers for a bat – realistically what kind of a bat do you think we could get in exchange for them? I don’t think we’d trade off Hanson/Jurrjens, and the others I don’t see bringing in a “big” bat. What are your thoughts?

nolie

November 3rd, 2009
3:08 pm

I figured two days of referencing Vinings was long enough – and sticking Beach in the middle is too awkward – as long as no one thinks I’m floating down the Grand Canal 9VJ)

lose a VJ, gain a VJ

nolie

November 3rd, 2009
3:09 pm

’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…(VOP)

I think they are making a lot of assumptions based on a decent year at his age. he could do well again, or revert to near worthlessness. Do they wanna take the chance after already dumping him once B4? I think he’d have to be pretty cheap

O.J.

November 3rd, 2009
3:09 pm

Dang right!!!! I wouldnt mind us taking a flyer on Wagner only if the price isnt steep and the Red Sox dont offer him arbitration.

nolie

November 3rd, 2009
3:10 pm

Freeman is our #2 ranked prospect (Uga Acc)

that kinda worries me a bit since I’m not sold on him. Not saying he won’t make it, just that there are more questions there than I would prefer for the #2 prospect of the entire system. What does that say about guys who are rated lower? maybe worries is a bit too strong a word

Marc in FL

November 3rd, 2009
3:10 pm

Capps could be a “safe” gamble in that the Pirates won’t get much for him. Could be worth it.

TnBrian

November 3rd, 2009
3:12 pm

I’ll bet right now if Wagner is willing to take a one year deal at a reasonable price then he could easily be a Brave. I like Gonzo, I like Soriano, but there’s really nothing like a vetran closer that wont get rattled in high pressure spots. Soriano doesn’t seem to get the jitters out there, but I’m afraid he has a ‘I don’t give a flip’ attitude sometimes. Gonzo gets too pumped, I think, that causes him to overthrow at times. Those overthrows lead to too many long innings.

DAP, ok, I gotcha. But, I still like to watch a player at the plate or in the field some before a make my own judgment on the guy. Stats only tell me so much.

18 Wheels of Love

November 3rd, 2009
3:12 pm

KJ for Capps
Trade for Mike Lowell for 1B
Sign Matt Holiday or Jason Bay for LF
Matt Diaz to keep RF warm until June

McLouth
Prado
Jones
Holliday/Bay
McCann
Escobar
Lowell
Diaz

macdwolfpack

November 3rd, 2009
3:13 pm

If Braves don’t resign LaRoche they will need two big bats, one to replace him and one to upgrade.
If they expect to compete with the Phillies next year then they will need the two big bats, if not they are only kidding themselves.
The GM for the Phillies has built a pretty darned good team very well balanced. He should be the GM of the year for the great moves he made to bolster his teams weaknesses this year.
I actually feel that with the moves he made that the Braves will need either LaRoche and a big bat or two just to keep up much less catch the Phillies.

beekay

November 3rd, 2009
3:15 pm

speaking of draft picks how does it work if we say lose a Type A to the Sox for Wagner but get 2 Type A’s if we offer Gonzo and Roachie and lose both…do we net one extra first round pick?

beekay

November 3rd, 2009
3:17 pm

TOP TEN
PROSPECTS
1. Jason Heyward, of
2. Freddie Freeman, 1b
3. Julio Teheran, rhp
4. Mike Minor, lhp
5. Craig Kimbrel, rhp
6. Christian Bethancourt, c
7. Randall Delgado, rhp
8. Zeke Spruill, rhp
9. Cody Johnson, of
10. Adam Milligan, of

BEST
TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Jason Heyward
Best Power Hitter Cody Johnson
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Jason Heyward
Fastest Baserunner Kyle Rose
Best Athlete Mycal Jones
Best Fastball Craig Kimbrel
Best Curveball Caleb Brewer
Best Slider Cory Gearrin
Best Changeup Edgar Osuna
Best Control Mike Minor
Best Defensive Catcher Christian Bethancourt
Best Defensive Infielder Brandon Hicks
Best Infield Arm Brandon Hicks
Best Defensive Outfielder Jason Heyward
Best Outfield Arm Jason Heyward

PROJECTED 2013
LINEUP
Catcher Brian McCann
First Base Freddie Freeman
Second Base Martin Prado
Third Base Mycal Jones
Shortstop Yunel Escobar
Left Field Nate McLouth
Center Field Jordan Schafer
Right Field Jason Heyward
No. 1 Starter Tommy Hanson
No. 2 Starter Jair Jurrjens
No. 3 Starter Julio Teheran
No. 4 Starter Mike Minor
No. 5 Starter Javier Vasquez
Closer Craig Kimbrel

O.J.

November 3rd, 2009
3:21 pm

beekay, was that 2013 projected lineup and starting rotation you came up with? if so, do you really think that Vazquez is going to still be wearing a Braves uni in 2013?

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
3:23 pm

The spectacularly named Starlin Castro (Cubs prospect) just went deep. Solar Sox up 1-0. Castro came in tied for league lead with a .423 average and 22 hits in 15 games. That was his first homer….

Funny moment in game yesterday. It’s dead quiet at these games, just so few people in stands. I’m down there behind home plate talking to a scout, and a player from Saguaros’ dugout says something to the ump that blue doesn’t like. It’s been going on a while I guess, but I don’t know. Anyway, ump rips off his mask and starts shouting as he walks toward the dugout telling the guy to shut it.

Saguaros manager David Bell, who was coaching third base (in front of his team’s dugout) immediately snaps to attention and starts walking toward the ump yelling, “Hey, you can’t be talking to my players like that!” And the ump tells him not to come any closer down the line, but Bell does anyway.

They get about 15-20 feet apart and calm down enough to ease the tension a bit without ejections or violence. It was great, though. And as soon as the ump goes back behind the plate, next pitch, a player or coach or someone in the dugout shouts out another sarcastic comment. Crowd is laughing through all this, and some fans are riding the ump a bit too.

Bozydeco

November 3rd, 2009
3:24 pm

Dave – wow The Meat Puppets. I have not heard that band’s music in a long time. I believe they were on the soundtrack for the movie “Repo Man”.

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
3:25 pm

Hicks makes 3B look easy. But no, Braves aren’t thinking of playing him there to get him ready or anything. As Wren told me, his overall skills (exceptional) and range are suited for SS.

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
3:29 pm

Freeman’s coming to bat, man on first with none out in bottom fourth.

TnBrian

November 3rd, 2009
3:31 pm

I guess certain umps have always had that chip on their shoulder, but it seems more than a few have been a little too edgy the last few years. I’m not sure if it’s a power trip, bitter about how much players or even coaches are making these days, maybe just a mixture of both. Good Lord, that Haun guy is no doubt the worst of the worst & Joe West has to be the laziest.

beekay, that’s a damn good question about the draft picks situation. I’d like to know myself.

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
3:31 pm

Fouled off a 1-1 pitch, then took one outside.

Fouled off a 2-2 pitch, then grounded out 4-3, runner advanced.

count_schemula

November 3rd, 2009
3:34 pm

Eat the money, trade Lowe. He’s the most overpaid and the oldest. Eat $15m and it’s a 3 year $30m for some other team and that’s more reasonable. When Vasquez threw the complete game loss, he won me over. Kawakami was mixed, but showed big heart. JJ and Hanson go nowhere.

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
3:36 pm

Hicks just hit an RBI single to left with two outs, tied the score.

TnBrian

November 3rd, 2009
3:36 pm

Worst ball/strike ump… CB Bucknor.

Laziest, uninspired ump… West

Most annoying, but most enthused… the guy that does that near 1-80 pivot when calling a K

Biggest Ass… Haun–not really his ass, just his ass attitude… alright to cuss during the day here?

ChipperFan

November 3rd, 2009
3:41 pm

TnBrian,

Yeah it’s alright at this time of day. Kids all oughta be in school, right?

And to answer beekay’s question: Yes, if that all happened, the Braves would gain 1 draft pick during the supplemental round. It won’t happen though, because we can’t risk even the outside chance that Soriano would accept arbitration. No way we’re gonna pay that guy $9m+ next year. We need the cash.

mattdrum

November 3rd, 2009
3:42 pm

I’ve been going back and forth on this, but I think the best thing to do is trade Vasquez. If we can get an outfielder with some power for him, sign LaRoche for a year or two, we’ll be set. I also like the idea of getting Wagner, if it doesn’t cost too much. I loved Javy this year, but he’s the best chance we have to get something good in return. And, chances are, he’s not going to have the same type year next year. It will still be a great rotation.

MAD-DONNA

November 3rd, 2009
3:42 pm

TnBrian

November 3rd, 2009
3:42 pm

Braves will be lucky, very, if a team is willing to take on even half his salary. They sure as hell didn’t want him when he was a FA coming off a year where he was one of the best pitchers in MLB the 2nd half. Why would they want him after a very mediocre season?

But, what do I know, I’m just a lonely blogger.

count_schemula

November 3rd, 2009
3:42 pm

I’m still a little confused as to whether Soriano is that bad, or if Cox kind of misuses the bullpen.

MZ

November 3rd, 2009
3:44 pm

DOB —-
Picked up “Classic Puppets” a couple of months ago … didn’t really know what to expect, since I hadn’t heard much of them (other than Lake of Fire and Plateau), but I was pleasantly surprised … stuff’s weird, now, don’t get me wrong, but I can handle weird … it’s crap that I can’t handle

Ray Pugh

November 3rd, 2009
3:45 pm

Trade Vazquez for Derek Lee, Sign Billy Wagner and Matt Cameron.

Nobody wants Lowe and Matt Capps sucks.

TnBrian

November 3rd, 2009
3:45 pm

ChipperFan, 9 & 10 year olds have blackberry’s these days. They probably use them in class.

beekay

November 3rd, 2009
3:45 pm

OJ
Its Baseball America’s take…I was surprised that Schafer was not in the top 10…he has really fallen fast.

ChipperFan

November 3rd, 2009
3:46 pm

Soriano isn’t bad at all. The issue is that if we’re going to pay somebody what Soriano would get in arbitration, we might as well just go get Billy Wagner for the same price. And if we’re NOT gonna pay that much, then let’s keep Gonzo who did a fine job for most of the year and clearly has what it takes to be a great closer. Just don’t pitch him 3 and 4 days in a row.

And yeah, Cox definitely misuses the bullpen.

beekay

November 3rd, 2009
3:46 pm

Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Rafael Furcal, ss Dodgers
2001 Wilson Betemit, ss White Sox
2002 Wilson Betemit, ss White Sox
2003 Adam Wainwright, rhp Cardinals
2004 Andy Marte, 3b Indians
2005 Jeff Francouer, of Mets
2006 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Rangers
2007 Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c Rangers
2008 Jordan Schafer, of Braves
2009 Tommy Hanson, rhp Braves

TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Adam Wainwright, rhp Cardinals
2001 Macay McBride, lhp Tigers
2002 Jeff Francouer, of Mets
2003 Luis Atilano, rhp (1st round supp.) Nationals
2004 Eric Campbell (2nd round) Braves
2005 Joey Devine, rhp Athletics
2006 Cody Johnson, of Braves
2007 Jason Heyward, of Braves
2008 Brett DeVall, lhp Braves
2009 Mike Minor, lhp Braves

LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Mike Minor, 2009 $2,420,000
Jeff Francouer, 2002 $2,200,000
Kenshin Kawakami, 2009 $2,000,000
Matt Belisle, 1998 $1,750,000
Jason Heyward, 2007 $1,700,000

count_schemula

November 3rd, 2009
3:51 pm

Even when Wags was with the Mets and still a true #1 closer, he tended to fade late in the season. Hoffman was able to pull it off with his mind numbing change-up, but Wags relies a LOT more on his fastball, which is not good when you factor in the surgery and his age. I say no big money to the closer, do it by committee. Use closer money for 1b and just suck it up Braves and get a REAL outfielder (.290 30HR 100RBI). Nobody loves Adam Dunn, but what if he was our LF all year last year? Yeah.

Ray Pugh

November 3rd, 2009
3:54 pm

I love Dunn.

Brian in Villa Rica

November 3rd, 2009
3:54 pm

Not that I am looking to trade Matt Diaz, but if we are looking for a big outfield bat and Heyward will be up in June and I know we aren’t looking to dump Schafer yet, who could we get if packaged Diaz and Vasquez? Is it possible that they package Freeman and Vazquez and go after a big and young bat for first base?

MikeY

November 3rd, 2009
3:55 pm

Trade Lowe for Juan Pierre. He is a spare part for the Dodgers, they need starters, can afford Lowe (and he has been a Dodger before). We need speed as well as more pop, Let Pierre play LF, bat leadoff, steal 60+ bases. And this deal frees up real bucks for a power hitter at 1B or RF.

Another option is to trade with a team with an extra closer, like the Cubs. Maybe Lowe for Marmol and Hoffpauir.

Daslied

November 3rd, 2009
3:55 pm

Ray Pugh wants us to sign the erstwhile drummer for Soundgarden. Awesome!

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
3:58 pm

Strasburg pitched five strong innings yesterday (four hits, one run, one walk, six strikeouts) out here, lowered his ERA to 5.28 in four starts. Yes, he had allowed eight earned run (and three homers) in 10-1/3 innings in his first three starts.

He does have 17 strikeouts with five walks (and 14 hits) allowed in 15-1/3 innings.

But it makes you appreciate even more how dominant Hanson was against some very good young hitters out here last fall.

MZ

November 3rd, 2009
4:00 pm

OK, it appears as if the hottest topic around these parts is which Braves pitcher should be dealt and for what? Should it be Vazquez, Lowe, or Kawakami?
Am I the only one who thinks it wouldn’t be too far-fetched or unwise to move more than one of the aforementioned hurlers? Whether it’s Vazquez and KK? or Lowe and Vazquez? Either way, I think Vazquez is going to have to go, because it’s beyond obvious that he’ll be the only one who would command a big (enough) piece in return.
BUT, I don’t think it would be foolish for the Braves to move either Lowe or KK as well. Get what you can get – bench players, solid utility guys or young pitching help. Reason I say this is because, thus far, we’ve heard pretty solid reviews on Minor, and while he’s probably not ready for 2010, he probably (barring injury) will be ready by 2011, at the latest. The Braves could move KK or Lowe and get somebody (either through free agency or another trade, i.e. Kelly Johnson) to spell fifth starter for them.
OR, there is a guy who came up as a starter, who is currently residing in bullpen-land, by the name of Kris Medlen, who I think is ready for (at the very least) a fifth starter’s job.
Re-sign LaRoche, acquire a power-hitting (right-handed) outfielder, and plug in whatever other pieces you can acquire through trades (of Vazquez, Lowe, KJ).
All of that being said, I think Lowe is gonna come up big in 2010 … and I do mean, BIG. I don’t think he’ll pitch well enough to earn CY consideration, but my guess is he puts up similar numbers to the ones Vazquez put up this season. And who knows – if he does put up Vazquez (of 09) type numbers in 2010, and the Braves offense is even a little better than it was in 09, maybe it does earn him CY consideration.

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
4:01 pm

Freeman’s up with runners at first and second and one out….

And now he’s down. Flied out to medium center, not deep enough to advance runner.

Daslied

November 3rd, 2009
4:02 pm

DOB, I used to work in the cigar business. Okay, I managed a shop in college. Anyhoo, we had a Padron-sponsored dinner once or twice, and Jorge (son of the founder, and I think CEO at this point) attended. Looks like Theo Epstein. Pronounced his first name “George”, if I recall. Very Americanized dude.

Anyhoo (can I say that twice?), he gave me a handful of some “special reserve” Aniversarios. They were all he smoked, and they were astoundingly good. Anyhoo (thrice!), they used to be relatively inexpensive and very awesome. I remember the 2/3000 series were only like $3-4, but this was in the late 90s.

(End pointless anecdote.)

ChippersLoveChild

November 3rd, 2009
4:04 pm

Jair and Medlen for Prince Fielder.

Efrim

November 3rd, 2009
4:08 pm

I don’t see any way the Braves offer arbitration to Soriano, who made over $6 mill last season, but they could offer it to LaRoche and Gonzalez, assuring they’d get draft picks as compensation if they leave.

That sucks. The Soriano part, that is. Although I have come to the realization that it just doesn’t make sense to offer Soriano arb. Maybe a team will sign him before December 1st(last day a team can offer arbitration)? Wishful thinking. But some team may be dumb enough to do that. No reason not to offer arbitration to Gonzalez, imo. I think LaRoche is probably a no. Plus, it would only be a comp. pick they would get in return. But if the Braves are okay with him making 10 million(or close to it), then that would be great.

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
4:11 pm

Freeman’s up with runners at first and second and one out….

And now he down. Flied out to medium center, not deep enough to advance runner.

P-Town Brave

November 3rd, 2009
4:11 pm

Wren can say that now but I don’t see him supplanting Escobar unless he’s just that good and yeah, he isn’t…

Wouldn’t the team be better moving him now and getting him comfortable at 3b just in case he becomes Chipper’s replacement?

brian

November 3rd, 2009
4:11 pm

TnBrian – the further into Lowe’s contract the more tradeable he will be. nobody really wanted to give Lowe the 4 year contract but the Braves needing the starting pitching (nobody expected Vazquez to be as good as he was) and after the recent stinging free agent losses, the Braves had to bite the bullet and just get him signed.

If Lowe had even a slightly better year than he had, there would be teams willing to take a chance for 3 years $45 million (as opposed to a 4 year deal), especially with the poor free agent starting pitching class.

My guess is that the Braves trade Vazquez to get a top power bat this year. If Lowe has a good year this year I bet they trade him and his 2 year $30 million contract next offseason clearing a place for Minor.

That would give them some flexibility to try and extend Jurrjens, McCann, etc

brian

November 3rd, 2009
4:13 pm

The Braves will offer LaRoche arbitration – if he accepts it there is our bridge to freeman without a long term contract (LaRoche will get a multiyear contract from somebody). The Braves would the focus trading a starting pitching for a young righty power hitting LF to balance the lineup.

Sonny Clusters

November 3rd, 2009
4:14 pm

Trade Kawakami we was never impressed by them and knowing they can’t pitch is not good.

Ray Pugh

November 3rd, 2009
4:16 pm

I want to sign Chris Cornell?

P-Town Brave

November 3rd, 2009
4:17 pm

18-

Lowell at 1b sounds interesting and I like his leadership and toughness, but his body is breaking down.

2 questions:

What were his numbers the last couple years in Boston and on the road?

Whats his contract situation look like?

Other than that, I like the idea of having Kimbrell up to begin the season, bringing Heyward up in June, signing Bay, offering arbitration to Gonzalez, and possibly signing Wagner to close anyways. Oh, and the biggest moves, non tendering Kelly Johnson, and granting Manny Acosta his unconditional release.

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
4:19 pm

On this day in history:

1974 – Bravos trade Hank Aaron to the Brewers for outfielder Dave May and a minor-league pitcher to be named later.

rammerjammer

November 3rd, 2009
4:19 pm

Brian, you made a lot of sense surmising Lowe could be traded after 2010 if he has a big season. Right now, we’d be selling low (no pun intended), but a bounceback season might give us a better return a year from now. I like it.

Efrim

November 3rd, 2009
4:20 pm

There are limitations in trading Vazquez. With his no trade clause to all West clubs and the fact that the Yankees and White Sox have been there and done that, it may be harder than some think to find a trade partner. They won’t trade him in division, I would think. Plus, I doubt that the Red Sox, Royals, Pirates, Astros, Jays, Orioles, and Indians would have interest for various reasons.

So that leaves the Rays, Tigers, Twins, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, and Reds as potential trade partners for the Braves. I know, tons could change that can alter a team’s plans. So perhaps the Red Sox have an interest in Vazquez if they need the starting pitching depth. That type of stuff can happen.

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
4:23 pm

P-Town Brave: They obviously don’t think so, is all I can tell you.

Hey, the kid’s not ready for the majors yet offensively, and his trade value is higher as a shortstop, where teams can see him making strong plays on a daily basis. He certainly doesn’t have corner-outfield offense. Maybe some day he will, but for now they’d be happy to see him be a good-hitting shortstop.

Jimmy Joe

November 3rd, 2009
4:23 pm

Vasquez to the Brewers for Mat Gamel and JJ Hardy.

Vasquez to the Twins for Michael Cuddyer.

Vasquez to the Rays for B.J. Upton.

Dave

November 3rd, 2009
4:24 pm

Resign LaRoche and make Freeman part of a package to add power to the lineup. Yes, he’s a prospect, but that’s all he is. Who knows if he’ll pan out?

David O'Brien

November 3rd, 2009
4:26 pm

Freeman’s out of game, Indians’ McBride moved from LF to 1B.

Efrim

November 3rd, 2009
4:27 pm

Given the current state of the Braves system, I can’t stress how bad a move it would be to sign Wagner, IF the Red Sox offer him arbitration. I’m for giving up your first round pick if you are signing an impact player on a long term deal. But a 38 year old relief pitcher? I’d rather not go that route.

CVan

November 3rd, 2009
4:30 pm

When can you sign free agents?

ryan

November 3rd, 2009
4:30 pm

What about trade for Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder

Country Boy

November 3rd, 2009
4:32 pm

Well here’s an idea – maybe silly. What if Hanson closed for 1 season??? He could be lock down and should be durable. OK to laugh now.

Efrim

November 3rd, 2009
4:33 pm

Vasquez to the Brewers for Mat Gamel and JJ Hardy.

Vasquez to the Twins for Michael Cuddyer.

Vasquez to the Rays for B.J. Upton.

I like Upton, but he isn’t really what the Braves need.

Cuddyer? Straight up for Vasquez? I’d want Aaron Hicks too.

Mat Gamel doesn’t really have a position and we have a shortstop and 2nd baseman who are better and cheaper.

Daslied

November 3rd, 2009
4:35 pm

Ray Pugh – Matt Cameron. Though you are right about Cornell being the original (?) drummer. Love that guy.

count_schemula

November 3rd, 2009
4:35 pm

Hanson is a starter. He’s a 10 year #1, you don’t mess with that. Period.

Daybed Wagmoe

November 3rd, 2009
4:36 pm

Trade Vazquez for Derek Lee, Sign Billy Wagner and Matt Cameron. Ray Pugh

I think that the Seattle Pearl Jams have Matt Cameron locked up long-term. ;)

CVan

November 3rd, 2009
4:37 pm

Is free agent signing two weeks after the world series?

CB

November 3rd, 2009
4:37 pm

Vazquez to my house to do some yard work. WTH

AZ Braves Fan

November 3rd, 2009
4:38 pm

Hey Dave,

What kind of schedule are the Fall League starters on? 5 days? 6 days? And how do you find out the probables? I’d like to go check out the Strasburg hype for myself. Supposedly he’s going to start Sat at the Rising Stars Showcase, but I can’t make that one. So how do I know the next start date?

jeffrey d

November 3rd, 2009
4:38 pm

Or why don’t we trade for Prince Fielder and then trade him for Adrian Gonzalez?

P-Town Brave

November 3rd, 2009
4:39 pm

DOB-

I assume you meant corner infield?

And yes, I will agree that he has higher trade value as a SS, but since when did the Braves ever focus on trade value from players in the minors?

Finally, how do you feel about that giant target already on your Jayhawks backs?

Jeff R

November 3rd, 2009
4:40 pm

DOB, thanks for the new blog.

All signs point to Wren shopping Vazquez, I suppose. Hope he can swing a young power bat and, perhaps, a solid prospect.

Unlikely, but having LaRoche back by his accepting arb is better than his taking off and the team left with poorer choices to replace him for a season or so.

Hicks… Chipper’s not around forever, and I know that Escobar is establishing himself as an All-star shortstop, but I think he’s got the tools to play third (when Chipper hangs ‘em up). Hicks at short, Escobar at third – say, 2012?

Rob from SC

November 3rd, 2009
4:43 pm

I would like to keep an eye on Conor Jackson. Arizona might non tender him. He can play LF or 1B.

Alexander the Great

November 3rd, 2009
4:44 pm

David O’Brien –

If they traded Vazquez, would there ever be a concern that the Braves would have one starter that could strike someone out? That being Hanson. Lowe, Hudson, Kawakami and Jurrjens means many balls put in play which would put more pressure on a so-so defense. Thanks a million.

ncscoots

November 3rd, 2009
4:45 pm

Yes, he’s a prospect, but that’s all he is. Who knows if he’ll pan out?

Yeah, probably not much hope for a .300/.350/.450 19-year-old with a K/BB ratio of less than 2-to-1, 100+ XBH hits, and 30+ HR in his short minor league career.

Geez, you guys are starting to turn me into a prospect-hugger, LOL. The kid could go bust, sure, but he’s a lot closer to the bigs than the independent leagues, you know?

And, ozzie, it’s not a man-crush that makes me disagree with you on the guy…it’s just that I trust my own observations more than I do yours, LOL.

jimmy

November 3rd, 2009
4:47 pm

have you picked up the new lynard skynard yet

Goldenglove002

November 3rd, 2009
4:47 pm

Iwamura going to the Pirates, well I guess we really are getting into the swing of things for the offseason. I like that. If anyone cares, this is a surprising move for the Pirates to be making in my opinion.

beekay

November 3rd, 2009
4:54 pm

Efrim
Not sure if you saw my question earlier but won’t we possibly get a few picks from possible signings of Roachy and Gonzo if we offer both arb and they sign elsewhere?…and if that were to happen would that mean that we can get a Wagner and still get an additional pick

Brad in MT

November 3rd, 2009
4:57 pm

Does anyone think Garrett Atkins might be a consideration for first base if we don’t resign Laroche? He didn’t have a great year last year but the previous two years he put up decent numbers, even if they were Coors aided. He is probably a trade, non-tender candidate since the Rockies seem to be going with Ian Stewart…I could see him being a one year bridge option at first IF and only if we get a big bat to play the outfield, plus he bats right handed…any thoughts?

jeffrey d

November 3rd, 2009
4:57 pm

If anyone cares, this is a surprising move for the Pirates to be making in my opinion.

Well, when’s the last time the Pirates have done anything that’s made sense?

beachcomber

November 3rd, 2009
4:59 pm

Been out of touch with the blog for too long. Any word on when the Braves are going to publish their spring schedule? The locals down here (Rays) had theirs out about weeks ago but can’t find anything on the Braves.

puma

November 3rd, 2009
4:59 pm

In terms of Lowe, I would obviously rather trade him than Vasquez based on performance. But, if you look at the record of each other the last 5 or more seasons, it was Lowe’s poor performance (I should say sub-par) last year that was more the anomaly than Vasquez’ great performance. (if that makes sense). So there is reason to believe he’ll be better next year.

If you can just dump Lowe’s salary, that’s 15 mil that could go towards that shiny new bat we are all looking for. So in sum, I say keep Vasquez no matter what, try to trade Lowe for anything cause just getting him off the books is worth a lot, but if we end up keeping Lowe, that’s coo…I like the guy on our team, just not sure he was worth the 15mil.

Also, with that said, it seems like every off season is a feeding frenzy for too few available free agent pitchers, maybe come Dec or Jan, a team like the Cubs would be willing to take on that salary. Worst case scenario, Lowe is on the 2010 Bravos and that ain’t too bad.

In terms of that righty bat, who is available this off season as a free agent, were we able to unload Lowe’s 15 mil?

Mike S

November 3rd, 2009
5:00 pm

Brad in MT, I think Atkins would be a great candidate for a bargain-FA deal/stop gap for Freeman if he’s non-tendered. He kills lefties and could play 3b too when Chipper needs to sit (although he’s not great over there I don’t think)

ChurchMan

November 3rd, 2009
5:01 pm

I’m well aware of the financial implications of shopping Lowe but I’d much rather have Vazy over Lowe

Javy: great innings eater (averaged 7 innings per start in his last 10 games), great strikeout numbers, great ERA, always got good run support
Lowe: averaged 5 innings per start his last 10 games, had fewer Ks than Hanson (who had 13 fewer starts than Lowe), ERA close to 5, and got run support but always seemed to need more.

If they trade Javy I’ll hope beyond hope he pitches up to the money he was given and hope that it won’t come back to bite them.

flange 1

November 3rd, 2009
5:02 pm

Efrim,

Totally agree with you on Wagner (if the Sox offer arbitration).

Further, I have agreed with your posts of the last few weeks about the state of the Braves minor league system. As usual, you have it nailed.

And no way we would ever call you Furman…..

Goldenglove002

November 3rd, 2009
5:05 pm

Jeffery D- they had been on a good track for most of the past year. But I guess it is always hard to resist temptation to go back to old ways

18 Wheels of Love

November 3rd, 2009
5:05 pm

Mike Lowell – 12m for 2010, FA 2011
2007 154 games/17 HR/73 RBI/.324 AVG
2008 113/17/73/.274
2009 113/17/75/.290

jeffrey d

November 3rd, 2009
5:07 pm

they had been on a good track for most of the past year

Really? I can’t remember exactly, but I didn’t think the Pirates got much for Bay, Nady, etc.

Isenberg

November 3rd, 2009
5:07 pm

What an intelligent post, Sunny Clusters.

P. W. Hjort

November 3rd, 2009
5:09 pm

For me, Teheran > Freeman.

jeffrey d

November 3rd, 2009
5:10 pm

Hmm, I didn’t realize the Pirates got Bay and Oliver Perez for Brian Giles. Guess they haven’t been all bad.

Daslied

November 3rd, 2009
5:15 pm

I think the Pirates are doing the right thing, which is what makes the Iwamura thing strange. They haven’t gotten a lot in return on the bulk of those trades, but it looks almost like they wanted to start from scratch – save a ton of money and add depth in the minors.

Well, maybe I shouldn’t have said “the right thing”, but it’s got to be better than what they’ve done since 1992. Doesn’t it?

Homer

November 3rd, 2009
5:19 pm

Hey Dave you gotten Hudson mad again? Saying he’s a guearentee to sign with the Braves.

Fire DOB!

VaBraveFan

November 3rd, 2009
5:19 pm

Goldenglove002

i’m surprised they would trade for a abatration player who will be getting a riase up into the 4-5 million range.
Matt Capps should be a fallback option for our bullpen, considering the Buss love trading any player away.
If Billy Wagner doesnt get a arbitration offer from the Sox we should go after him, he said he wants to close next year and thats would be a sure thing coming too Atlanta.

beekay

November 3rd, 2009
5:19 pm

Enter your comments here

ugaaccountant

November 3rd, 2009
5:20 pm

nolie
“there are more questions there than I would prefer for the #2 prospect of the entire system. What does that say about guys who are rated lower? maybe worries is a bit too strong a word”

Well fortunately, it doesn’t say anything bad about the rest of our top 10. He’s only ranked ahead of one prospect, Kimbrel, who is closer to the majors than he is. Everyone else behind him is farther away from the majors, although Minor might make a race of it due to his age and experience level.

It does say that our AAA and AA teams were largely bereft of talent. I know some don’t like me beating the drum that we’ve traded away our prospects far too freely, but seriously we were dry in the upper reaches of our minors until the younger guys earned promotions.

CB

November 3rd, 2009
5:20 pm

Homer,use spell check.

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