Archive for November, 2010

Braves wait for Hinske, Diaz waits for Braves, etc.

While the Braves wait for Eric Hinske to decide between offers from them and his home-state Brewers, and Matt Diaz waits for the Braves to make a decision about his future, most of us are just waiting for the Hot Stove to heat up.

While the Braves -- thank the Marlins -- nabbed their big pursuit early with the trade for Dan Uggla, most teams seem content to wait until next week's Winter Meetings to really get the Hot Stove going. Deals and even rumors have been sparse so far across the baseball landscape.

While the Braves — courtesy of impatient Marlins — nabbed their big pursuit early with a trade for Dan Uggla, most teams seem content to wait until next week's Winter Meetings to get the Hot Stove cranking. Deals and even rumors have been sparse so far.

And this is coming from a beat writer whose team made one of the only significant moves so far this winter, trading for second baseman Dan Uggla.

Yes, this offseason has been uncharacteristically short on juicy trade rumors and free-agent negotiations played out publicly. Apparently most teams — exception: Yankees — and agents are more or less abiding by the recent request that they not leak offers and negotiation updates to the media.

Those are the leaks that usually provide much of grist for the …

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Braves have power, speed in non-roster invitees

Catcher J.C. Boscan and seven others signed to minor-league free agent contracts were invited to major league spring training, including a speedy former Indians prospect and a former Royals farmhand who can play a handful of positions.

Boscan was a feel-good story in 2010, when he made his big-league debut at 30 after 14 seasons in the minor leagues.

Others on the list were infielders Shawn Bowman and ex-Royals prospect Ed Lucas, outfielders Brent Clevlen, ex-Indians prospect Jose Constanza, and Wilkin Ramirez, catcher Wilkin Castillo, and right-handed pitcher Jay Sborz.

Boscan, Clevlen and Ramirez re-signed with the Braves after becoming six-year free agents. Ramirez, who turned 25 three weeks ago, came from Detroit in a July 31 trade and hit .234 with 23 homers and 70 RBIs in 121 minor league games, including .253 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 24 games for Triple-A Gwinnett.

Constanza, 27, hit .319 with eight triples, a .373 on-base percentage and 34 stolen bases in 2010 …

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NY Times report questions loans agent made to Braves prospect

The New York Times reported Monday that agent Scott Boras made a series of loans totaling $70,000 to Braves shortstop prospect Edward Salcedo, raising questions about the possible exploitation of a needy Dominican family and a violation of union rules by the Boras Corporation.

The newspaper reported that Salcedo had changed agents after a $2.9 million contract with the Indians fell through in 2008 over a dispute about his age, but that he felt pressured to return to Boras because of the money he owed. The article cited Salcedo, his brother Thommy and Martiris Hanley, a former Boras employee, as sources.

The report said agents must register all loans over $500 with the players’ union, and that a union representative wouldn’t comment on whether these loans were registered.

In a statement to the Times, Boras acknowledged aiding the Salcedo family “in their time of need….and (it’s) something that we’ve done for clients in the past, always consistent with” union …

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Braves sign four minor league free agents

The Braves signed four minor league free agents who will likely be non-roster invitees to spring training and potentially fight for bench spots or at least stock the upper levels of the minor leagues.

They are shortstop Ed Lucas, a former eighth round pick of the Royals and Dartmouth graduate who hit .307 with 13 homers last year for Triple-A Omaha; former Mets third base prospect Shawn Bowman, who hit 22 home runs last year in Double-A New Hampshire; Wilkin Castillo, a catcher who can also play in the infield or outfield and outfielder and played 22 games in the majors for the Reds in 2008 and 2009; and outfielder Jose Constanza, an International League All-Star who hit .319 last year for Columbus.

“It’s a group of guys, with good skills and tools, who we think have the ability to help us at the major league level at some point,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said.

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Brewers join Braves in pursuit of Eric Hinske

The Braves have some competition from Eric Hinske’s home state for the services of his bat off the bench. The Brewers have made an offer to Hinske, in addition to the Braves, GM Doug Melvin confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Tuesday.  Terms of the offer were not disclosed. Braves general manager Frank Wren said last week the Braves have made an offer to the 33-year-old bench player, and it is believed to be one year for $1 to $1.5 million.

Hinske is a native of Menasha, WI., which is 100 miles north of Milwaukee.  The Brewers are looking for a left-handed bat off the bench. Hinske, who can play either corner infield or outfield spot, hit .256 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs in 131 games last year for the Braves. He was a popular player in the clubhouse and a veteran presence the Braves hoped to have back on the bench. His Game 3 two-run homer against the Giants in the NLDS would have been the game-winner had the Braves bullpen not given up the lead again in the ninth.

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Braves don’t offer arbitration to free agent Derrek Lee

As expected, the Braves did not offer salary arbitration to free agent Derrek Lee, foregoing any chance of receiving draft compensation in exchange for him signing with another team.

That proposition was too risky for the Braves considering the veteran first baseman is coming off thumb surgery and would have commanded more than $10 million in arbitration. Had Lee accepted and not signed with another team, he would have been difficult to trade, and the Braves have prospect Freddie Freeman ready to take over at first base next season.

The Braves made that gamble and lost in 2003 when Greg Maddux accepted arbitration, made $14 million that year, and forced the Braves to trade Kevin Millwood.

Lee, 35, is a Type A free agent, which means had the Braves offered arbitration and he signed with another team, the Braves would have received that team’s first round draft pick in next year’s draft as well as a supplemental first round pick.

The Braves traded for Lee from the Cubs last …

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Chipper on knee rehab, Uggla, his new manager and…CMT?

(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien.)

Hello strangers! Been a while, a long while. Time to dust off the keyboard (and the last of the sheetrock dust from my hair) and see if I remember how to blog.

DOB is getting some well-needed time off this week, which I had some of myself last week. Let’s hope he makes better decisions on what to do with his off time than one I made last week, “hey, let’s paint the living and dining room. Won’t that be fun?”

Let’s just say that between trim painting and blogging, you guys are looking awfully good right now. So let’s get started.

With the Braves having already made their biggest move of the offseason without me – welcome Mr. Dan Uggla – where do we go? This week we just have the Tuesday deadline to offer arbitration to top notch free agents, which the Braves probably won’t offer to Derrek Lee, their only candidate (more on that later).

While we wait to see if Eric Hinske accepts the Braves …

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Uggla, Braves optimistic about extension for slugger

When the Marlins asked two weeks ago if Braves general manager Frank Wren would trade Martin Prado for Florida slugger Dan Uggla, Wren said he told them no and dangled Omar Infante instead.

Since Marlins GM Larry Beinfest had not replied about Infante, Wren must’ve been a bit surprised when Beinfest passed him a note in a group session Tuesday at the general managers meetings in Orlando.

On the slip of paper, Beinfest asked if Wren would still do the Uggla trade for Infante and a pitcher.

A few hours later, the two GMs announced the first big trade of baseball’s offseason: Second baseman Uggla to the Braves for All-Star infielder Infante and Mike Dunn, the third lefty in Atlanta’s bullpen.

On Friday, the Braves unveiled their new slugger at Turner Field, where Uggla posed for pictures in his No. 26 jersey and talked of how enthused he was to be coming home – or at least close to it.

“This is the closest big-league team to my home, and it creates an incredible opportunity for …

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Braves make offer to free agent Hinske

General manager Frank Wren said the Braves have made an offer to free-agent outfielder Eric Hinske, but have not decided  whether to tender a contract to arbitration-eligible outfielder Matt Diaz.

Hinske signed a one-year, $1 million contract with Atlanta last winter and hit .256 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs, including three pinch-hit homers.  He was lauded by teammates for his leadership and role in the Braves’ strong clubhouse chemistry.

The offer for 2011 is believed to be for a similar amount, and it’s unclear whether Hinske will accept it, or wait to see if the Braves increase the offer or other teams better it.

Diaz is a popular Brave who hits well against left-handers, including .273 with an .830 OPS in 2010, and .369 with a .975 OPS from 2007-2009. But he doesn’t have the versatility of recently acquired corner outfielder/infielder Joe Mather.

After making $2.5 million last season, Diaz isn’t expected to get an arbitration offer from the Braves.  He wants to …

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Braves trade strikeout-plagued former 1st-rounder

The Braves gave up waiting for Cody Johnson to develop and traded the outfielder to the Yankees for cash considerations on Friday, rather than use a 40-man roster spot on the strikeout-plagued behemoth.

Johnson, 22, hit .212 with 18 home runs and 151 strikeouts in 344 at-bats last season for three affiliates at the Double-A level and lower. His average, on-base percentage (.269) and slugging percentage (.343) were his full-season lows.

A first-round draft pick in 2006, Johnson hit a combined .243 with a .320 OBP in five minor league seasons, totaling 94 homers, 309 RBIs, 182 walks and a whopping 629 strikeouts in 1,613 at-bats.

The Braves were hopeful after the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder hit .239 with 32 homers, 87 RBIs and .342 OBP in 2009 at High-A and Double-A.

But Johnson regressed in 2010, hitting .189 with 114 strikeouts in 233 at-bats at Double-A Mississippi.

Teams faced a Friday deadline to add players to their 40-man roster who had enough time in the minors to require that …

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