As hot stove heats up, expect unexpected from Wren

If we’ve learned one thing about Frank Wren during his three years as Braves GM, it’s to not be surprised by a sudden trade or signing that no one saw coming. From signing relievers Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito and 3B Troy Glaus (to play 1B) last winter to trading for Derrek Lee last summer, Wren has managed to make deals neither leaked nor even speculated upon beforehand, in an era when nearly every transaction is leaked or speculated upon.

Pat Burrell could be a fit in LF, if Brave have a late-innings defensive replacement ready.

Pat Burrell could be a fit in LF, if Brave have a late-innings defensive replacement ready.

With the obvious exception of last month’s Fredi Gonzalez hiring, which was entirely predictable, most other significant Braves moves in the past couple of years were somewhere between mildly surprising to completely out of the blue, with more of the latter than the former.

What we’re saying is, if the Braves pull off a trade this winter for an outfielder other than, say, Colby Rasmus or Jacoby Ellsbury, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Or if they sign a free agent other than, say, Pat Burrell, it won’t come as a shock. Those are a few of the names, with others ranging from Matt Kemp and Magglio Ordonez to Lance Berkman and B.J. Upton, that have been connected, sometimes tenuously, to the Braves since the season ended.

Sometimes the connection is legitimate — the Braves would love to have Rasmus and tried to trade for him in the past, and the Cardinals’ Rasmus and Tony La Russa don’t have the greatest player-manager relationship. However, the Cardinals also know that Rasmus can be an affordable and extremely productive player for several more years, long after La Russa is gone. And for a team that needs to save money at a few spots so it can spend big money at others (i.e. Albert Pujols), that’s no small consideration. If the Cardinals trade Rasmus, who led all major league center fielders with an .859 OPS in 2010, it’ll be for a bounty of young talent, which from the Braves would surely need to include at least one young pitcher and/or top pitching prospect.

With Wren, we've learned to expect the unexpected in trades, free-agent signings.

With Wren, we've learned to expect the unexpected in trades, free-agent signings.

That could happen. But it seems more likely that the Cardinals won’t trade him. Just as — at least from what I’m hearing — it’s unlikely the Dodgers would trade the talented Kemp, despite questions about his attitude.

The Rays might be willing to part with the mercurial Upton, whose speed/power combination would add a new dimension to the Braves’ lineup. He hit an alarmingly bad .237 with a .322 OBP in 2010, but Upton still had 18 homers, 38 doubles and 42 steals in 51 attempts. He’s only 25,  has plenty of playoff experience, has stolen 42 or more bases for the past three seasons, and posted OBPs of .386 and .383 at ages 22 and 23. So it’s there. Big talent.

Again, the Braves would probably have to part with at least one pitching prospect and/or young major leaguer to get him, but as long as those names didn’t include Heyward, Freeman or Teheran, perhaps they would consider it.

The price could be similarly high for Ellsbury, who might be expendable if the Red Sox are successful in landing Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford, the only elite outfielders on the free-agent market. Ellsbury was limited to 18 big-league games because of broken ribs last season, but in 2009 he hit .301 with a .355 OBP, 10 triples and a majors-leading 70 stolen bases in 82 attempts.

He doesn’t hit for power, but Ellsbury’s center-field defense and speed – he also had 50 stolen bases and  90 runs as a rookie in 2008 – are enticing. And he’s a first-time arb-eligible player. Thus affordable for at least 2-3 years.

Another speedy outfield option is free agent Scott Podsednik. No, he’s no Ellsbury (when Ellsbury’s healthy), and neither does Podsednik fulfill the Braves’ wish for more power. But he hit .297 with a .342 OBP, 35 steals and seven triples in 134 games for K.C. and the Dodgers, and plays center field and left field. And at age 34, he’s not going to command a big contract.

The Braves really need to add a productive center or left fielder (they can play Nate McLouth at either, and they certainly need McLouth to rebound and be a viable lineup regular, since he’s owed about $7 million, including a $6.5 mill salary in 2011 and prorated portion of the buyout of his 2012 option).

If you’d known two years ago that Magglio Ordonez, who averaged 24 homers and nearly 115 RBI from 2006-2008, would be available for the Braves after the 2010 season, you might not have believed they’d be so fortunate. But Maggs is a free agent and not expected to command a long-term contract, in part because of questions about the right ankle he broke last season.

His ankle and Type-A free agent status are drawbacks for teams considering Magglio Ordonez.

His right ankle and Type-A free agent status are drawbacks for teams considering Magglio Ordonez.

Agent Scott Boras said  this weekend that Ordonez is already about 90 percent recovered and insisted it was a simple fracture and won’t be a problem. But teams, particularly NL teams that will need him to play in the outfield, are concerned his ankle might not permit the 37-year-old  to play a serviceable outfield on a regular basis.

Then there is the matter of his Type A free-agent status, which means a team would forfeit a draft pick for signing Ordonez, if the Tigers offer him arbitration to Ordonez or a team signs him before the Nov. 23 deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents.

If a team is willing to gamble on Ordonez and it doesn’t cost a first-round draft pick, there could be a potential big return on a relatively small investment (although with Boras as his agent, that price will probably end up higher than any of us expect). Keep in mind, Ordonez hit .303 with a .378 OBP and .852 OPS in 84 games before getting hurt last season, and has a .312 career average, .372 OBP and .883 OPS.

The Braves probably have more legitimate interest in Burrell, who was a bust in 2009 and early last season with Tampa Bay, but had 18 homers and an .872 OPS in 96 games with San Francisco to help the Giants win the West. Burrell is a bad defensive player, but he’s a proven offensive commodity in the NL, where he averaged 31 homers and nearly 99 RBIs during his last four seasons with the Phillies from 2005 to 2008, with OPS totals of .890 or higher in three of those seasons.

If the Braves have someone to insert for late-innings defense, Burrell could be a pretty good fit in left field for a team that presumably can’t afford to pursue Werth (who’d be a perfect fit in the middle of their order, if they could) or Crawford.

If the Red Sox will trave Ellsbury, he could bring blazing speed to leadoff and center field.

If the Red Sox will trave Ellsbury, he could bring blazing speed to leadoff and center field.

The switch-hitting Berkman seemed a possible fit for the Braves before they got Joe Mather off waivers from St. Louis last week. But considering Berkman’s poor performances against lefties the past couple of seasons, he wouldn’t make any sense as a backup to Freddie Freeman at first base anyway. Berkman would have to play in left field, where he might be only slightly better defensively at this stage of his career than Garret Anderson was a couple years ago.

Thankfully, all this stuff should start to become a little clearer in coming weeks.

Expect action at GM meetings: In recent years the general managers meetings have been little more than a few days for GMs to eat well, discuss rules and lay groundwork for possible trades later in the winter. Not a lot of action to report out of those gatherings.

But things could be a lot busier this year at the GM meetings Nov. 16-17 in Orlando.

Because of rules changes that moved baseball’s offseason schedule forward, GMs will gather for their annual meetings already knowing which free agents are available to sign with any team. The exclusive negotiating period between teams and their own free agents was shortened this year from 15 days to five days immediately after the World Series.

GMs will converge in Orlando knowing who’s available, which could also be the impetus to get some trades going earlier than in recent years.

The annual Winter Meetings in December – baseball’s big offseason event — could see an increase in signings and trades consummated, compared to recent years. That’s because the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their own free agents was also moved up — to Nov. 23, two weeks before the Dec. 6-9 Winter Meetings, which will also be in Orlando.

If you recall last winter, that free-agent arb deadline fell during the middle of the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. The Braves and other teams had to wait until the midnight deadline in many cases to learn whether free agents such as Atlanta closer Rafael Soriano would accept arbitration. Soriano did, and the Braves scrambled to trade him to Tampa Bay (for Jesse Chavez) before leaving the meetings.

This year, teams will go to the Winter Meetings knowing  which free agents are available and what their own rosters look like, and not end up spending part of the meetings deciding whether to offer arbitration and planning options in case a decision doesn’t go as the team planned.

As for arbitration-eligible players, the deadline is Dec. 2 for teams to tender contracts to their arb-eligible players. The Braves already dumped Melky Cabrera and signed Scott Proctor, leaving them with five unsigned arb-eligibles: pitchers Jair Jurrjens, Peter Moylan and Eric O’Flaherty, infielder Martin Prado, and outfielder Matt Diaz.

Braves claimed outfielder/corner infielder Joe Mather off waivers last week from St. Louis.

Braves claimed outfielder/corner infielder Joe Mather off waivers last week from St. Louis.

Diaz is the only non-tender candidate among that group. He’s made it known he wants to stay with the Braves and would play again for what he made last season ($2.55 million), not take the Braves all the way to arbitration if tendered.

Does getting Mather affect the likelihood on keeping Diaz? Wren said the right-handed hitting Mather, who can play all three outfield positions and the infield corners, would not affect whether the Braves bring back Diaz or try to re-sign Eric Hinske.

But while I can see where it wouldn’t effect whether they try to bring back left-handed-hitting Hinske, I’ve got to believe Diaz became less a priority for the Braves after they added Mather. We’ll just have to wait and see.

♣The new Mets front office: Most of us can agree that Sandy Alderson replacing  Omar Minaya should be a good move for the Mets, especially since he’ll surround himself with knowledgeable baseball people. Also, he’ll have a much bigger payroll to work with than he had in his roles with previous teams.

But it’ll be interesting to see how a couple of dynamics play out, given Alderson’s previous roles working for MLB. For instance, he was executive VP of baseball operations for a long time, and probably had a few run-ins with GMs he’s now going to have to deal with directly in trades, etc.

There are umpires who don’t like him, given the disciplinary role that Alderson had with umps in the past. I’m not suggesting that will have any residual effect — I mean, he’s the GM, not a manager going face-to-face with umps — but it’s still something to think about.

Also, in the past year he headed up MLB’s efforts to curb corruption in the signing of players in the Dominican, where the Mets, as much as any team in recent years, have signed plenty of players. Wonder if there might be some resentment from buscones, the talent scout/agents who make their living signing all those 16-year-old players, the buscones that MLB has tried hard to crack down on?

But like I said, I expect Alderson will surround himself with good baseball people and ultimately be a good hire for the Mets, who needed a change. I’m not going to be surprised if the Mets boost their payroll significantly, if not right away then in a year or two.

There’s also a lot of talk about Washington being ready to step up its payroll considerably in coming seasons. Hey, might not be long before the Braves rank fourth in the division in payroll, ahead of only the Marlins, who have a new ballpark on the way.

♣ Speaking of Braves payroll: Maybe Liberty Media executives and Braves CEO Terry McGuirk will decide that boosting the payroll by $10-20 mill  might ultimately add value to the franchise by helping it get back to the World Series. Or maybe not. I’m just thinking aloud because of something I noticed in an issue of Vanity Fair in the absurdly high stack of magazines next to my recliner.

John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, was ranked No. 10 on the list of “100 Most Influential People of the Information Age” by VF. I read this, and some other stories about Malone, and reached the conclusion that he could add $10 mill to the Braves payroll with change from between the sofa cushions. Of his third home.

Liberty Media's John Malone is on Forbes' list of richest Americans, and No. 10 on Vanity Fair's 100 Most Influential People of the Information Age.

Liberty Media's Malone makes Forbes' list of richest Americans, and is No. 10 on Vanity Fair's 100 Most Influential People of the Information Age.

Of course, that’s not how it works, and these business titans like to make profits in everything they do, even when it’s a relatively tiny piece of the empire, as the Braves are with Liberty.

Liberty agreed to own the team through the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires next December. But I’d be a bit surprised if they sold soon after that, not while the economy remains so poor. The only people selling baseball teams these days are those forced to by personal/corporate economic crisis and/or other reasons (see: Dodgers, McCourt divorce).

♣ Regarding Javy Vazquez: Lot of folks on this blog have suggested the Braves should sign Javier Vazquez to a one-year, cheap deal, as if that’s an opportunity Vazquez would jump on because he had a great season here in 2009. Problem is, I don’t know that Javy’s disappointing season with Yankees in 2010 reduces him to one-year-at-cheap-rate status just yet.

He’s 34 years old, has won at least 10 games in 11 consecutive seasons and pitched more than 200 innings in nine of those 11 seasons, including averaging 214 innings over the last three before 2010.

Some team or teams will surely offer him a multi-year contract, and if you’re a starting pitcher in your mid-30s, it’s tough to turn down a multi-year deal for a one-year deal.

If the Braves want to sign a veteran they’re familiar with, a good clubhouse guy whose stock has fallen and could come relatively cheaply – and I don’t know that they have any interest in doing so, but it makes some sense — they might need to consider someone like Kevin Millwood, another ex-Brave.

When some of you stop laughing, I’ll explain why.

Millwood had an awful 4-16 record and 5.10 ERA last season, but still pitched 190 innings and actually pitched well in the last two months of the season after making some adjustments.

Consider this: Over his final 10 starts, Millwood had a 3.29 ERA and 65-2/3 innings pitched, going six or more innings in all but one of those 10 games, and seven or more in five. He had 2.88 support runs per nine innings pitched in that span, and finished the season with the second-worst run support in the American League at 3.26 (only Seattle’s Felix Hernandez was lower, at 3.1).

Vazquez went 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA in 31 games including 26 starts (he lost his rotation spot late). He did this while receiving 4.81 support runs per nine innings.

He was 1-3 with a 6.97 ERA in 12 games (eight starts) after July 30. After the All-Star break, Vazquez had a 6.64 ERA and .301 opp avg/.958 OPS in 14 games (10 starts), while Millwood had a 4.23 ERA and .272 opp avg/.757 OPS in 13 starts.

I’m not saying Braves should sign Millwood, just saying that’s the kind of option they might consider if they want a veteran at the back of the rotation to provide depth so they don’t have to depend heavily on young guys, but don’t want to go more than one year in a contract. (They don’t need to go more than one year, when they have Kris Medlen coming back at the end of next season and prospects on the way.)

Alright, let’s get this blog posted. And in recognition of the baseball’s offseason poised to start getting busy soon, let’s go with this Arcade Fire tune off their recent album, The Suburbs. And check out this video, which provides some idea of how terrific this band is live with its all-hands-on-deck-performance.

10-arcade-fire

“READY TO START” by Arcade Fire

Businessmen drink my blood

Like the kids in art school said they would

And I guess I’ll just begin again

You say can we still be friends

If I was scared

I would

And if I was bored

You know I would

And if I was yours

But I’m not

All the kids have always known

That the emperor wears new clothes

But to bow to down to them anyway

Is better than to be alone

If I was scared

I would

And if I was bored

You know I would

And if I was yours

But I’m not

Now you’re knocking at my door

Saying please come out against the night

But I would rather be alone

Than pretend I feel alright

If the businessmen drink my blood

Like the kids in art school said they would

Then I guess I’ll just begin again

You say can we still be friends

If I was scared

I would

And if I was pure

You know I would

And if I was yours

But I’m not

Now I’m ready to start

If I was scared

I would

And if I was pure

You know I would

And if I was yours

But I’m not

Now I’m ready to start

I would rather be wrong

Than live in the shadows of your song

My mind is open wide

And now I’m ready to start

Your mind surely opened the door

To step out into the dark

Now I’m ready

4,652 comments Add your comment

nolie

November 8th, 2010
6:59 pm

goodness that’s a long one. Thanx

Murph

November 8th, 2010
7:00 pm

Thanks for the new blog DOB

JasonInFL

November 8th, 2010
7:04 pm

Let’s hope they raise payroll, we get our big bopper, chipper comes back healthy, and we win the WS!! Great blog, as always DOB.

Nova Scotia Steve

November 8th, 2010
7:06 pm

Take a chance on Mags. He’d look great in a Braves uniform.

JasonInFL

November 8th, 2010
7:08 pm

there is a baseball god…no more Joe Morgan!!

nolie

November 8th, 2010
7:09 pm

Mags made 18 mil, he will not come cheap since an AL team will likely want him to DH a good bit. Is the gamble on his health and age worth 10 mil to a team like the Braves that has a somewhat limited payroll level?

nolie

November 8th, 2010
7:11 pm

FJM.com finally succeeds ;)

Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!)

November 8th, 2010
7:13 pm

I’ll have to pass on Ordonez. He’s still a productive player but at age 36 Magglio is on the downside of his career.

Lollygagger

November 8th, 2010
7:15 pm

Might Mather be considered a replacement for Chipper at 3B for a few years while the Braves work some prosepcts through the minors? The more I hear about and read about this guy, the more I think he could actually contribute. What about a Mather-Hinske platoon in LF? How big of a risk would you guys say that is?

Chillahill43

November 8th, 2010
7:15 pm

Pat Burrell who was out of a job and now we may be interested. A year slower and well that would make sense. The same guy that went 0 for the World Series. Lets just sign
him and Troy and garrett anderson and well andruw jones and see if they can work share. You know get 40 games outta each.,. God DOB. The scary part is Pat Burrell is now floatimg thru space at lihht speed to Wrens brain.,, and they scaty part is it will now happen . Old planes to the dessert to die – old New Yorkers to FLA -old Baseball players to Atlanta. It all makes sense now. Freddi was used to having to deal with the retiireees in South Fla.. Now he can deal with a geratric ball club…., CheeseandRice…… A change. I was hopping for a change!!!!! Sounds like the same old same old .
Crap. …. Well anyway Go Braves!!!!!!

Lollygagger

November 8th, 2010
7:17 pm

Coach-

Glaus worked out well for a few months last year, but overall the Braves haven’t had muich luck with older and/or reclaimation projects. I just don’t know if I trust Mags for a full season in the field. Really depends, tho. If he’s still available in March and Braves haven’t landed that big bat (I don’t see either happening), then maybe take a flyer.

joe

November 8th, 2010
7:19 pm

@nolie, that’s what she said.

bostonbravo

November 8th, 2010
7:21 pm

Wagner – great. Lee – OK.

Wrenn’s Rest?….blew

jeffrey d

November 8th, 2010
7:22 pm

Great blog, as always DOB. Can’t wait for the offseason to get rolling!

MitchC

November 8th, 2010
7:22 pm

Dave, thanks for the insight.

Without a doubt, this team needs another bat. Ordonez is old, but, if he can be productive, it might not be a bad thing to sign him. Burrell wouldn’t be bad either, but, as you said, he is terrible defensively.

About the pitchers you mentioned: Bobby isnt here anymore, as the manager, so Millwood wouldnt really be coming home to him. Javy Vazquez is really a 500 pitcher with a 4 career ERA, who just had that one great season for the Braves.

You mentioned Liberty adding 10-20 mil to the payroll. The way ownership has been since they cut payroll when Glavine and Maddux left, during the Time Warner days, I see that as a long shot. The payroll will probably be the same 90-100 mil or whatever it has been, until the cows come home.

The Braves did what I expected they would this past season. They won the wild card, and got to the playoffs.

While we know they blew the 7 game NL East lead, reality is they wouldnt have had that lead, if the Phillies had been healthy all season.

Bottom line, the NL East will probably be for the next few years, what it was this season. The Phillies are far and away the class of the division if they are healthy. They should win 90 to 100 games, unless major injuries hit, or a signifcant free agent departs. The Braves are a good team, but, unless they unexpectedly sign or trade for, a huge power bat, and a top notch starting pitcher, they arent the Phillies, when the Phillies are healthy.

Hopefully, the Braves can continue to be what they were in 2010, an interesting team who wins 90 plus games, and competes for the wild card. After what we were from 2006 to 2009, that wouldnt be bad.

SCJames

November 8th, 2010
7:23 pm

Ryan Braun for JJ

Russell Bell

November 8th, 2010
7:25 pm

Ryan Braun for JJ

Good luck with that one buddy.

RichieRich86

November 8th, 2010
7:25 pm

Thank you so much for that blog. Your reasoning just made me think back to the good ole days when we hand Millwood on our staff. I wouldn’t mind having a Lowe Hanson Hudson Jurrjens Millwood rotation. Would really like some more information on Outfielders. Theres no way Nate McLouth doesn’t have a come back year. The guy was an all-star outfield when we traded for him. He’s a scrappy hitter. I loved the way he played the game in Pittsburgh. Hopefully he’ll bounce back and we can get a respectful Outfielder without trading my boy Jair.

bruce mac

November 8th, 2010
7:25 pm

Good stuff DOB, I love it. Keep it coming my good man. I can’t wait til spring training. Braves are going to the World Series in 2011 or 2012.

SCJames

November 8th, 2010
7:26 pm

DOB said don’t ruleout anything

nolie

November 8th, 2010
7:27 pm

if you can get one of the best hitters in the NL for a pitcher coming off injuries and a poor year, you will win GM of the year James ;)

jeffrey d

November 8th, 2010
7:29 pm

jimmya

November 8th, 2010
7:29 pm

get rid of wren then we`ll be ok

Russell Bell

November 8th, 2010
7:30 pm

So your trade proposal was in jest?

Melvin would just laugh as he hung up the phone on Wren, if Frank had the audacity to call him up with that nonsense of a trade.

bravofan

November 8th, 2010
7:30 pm

very nice DOB thanks for the hardwork!

VaBravesFan

November 8th, 2010
7:31 pm

SCJames

More like JJ, Freeman,Teheran,Delgado,Minor to land Ryan Braun. lol

justin1

November 8th, 2010
7:31 pm

Maggs sure does fill out a pair of Dungarees.

RAMBLINWRECK

November 8th, 2010
7:32 pm

This team needs SPEED!! SPEED.SPEED AND MORE SPEED!! This is a team that can’t rely on the long ball and must use speed as the normal crutch to generate runs as most of the good teams do. They run and the braves can’t run worth a crap! I don’t give a damn about a guy who will hit 30 hr, but rather a guy who can hit for average and RUN!!! If you can field a team with guys who can steal bases. it puts more pressure than you can imagine on the other team. The braves can pitch, but there is no speed. If we can get 2 or 3 guys that can steal bases into this lineup, we can take this a step further. Of course the braves can’t play sloppy baseball and must stop all the stupid errors but they must add speed and cut down on the errors to make a serious run at knocking the phillies out and winning a WS.

Chillahill43

November 8th, 2010
7:33 pm

Can we please rule out 35-40 year old slow footed baseball players that look great for 1/5 of a season … . A fleet footed slap hitter that gets on base and steals would be nice; as would not finishing a season as the lowest RBI producing outfield in the league . And more than 18 homers from each outfielder would be a real plus tooo… Oh well its still
early…. Go Braves!!!!

Jim

November 8th, 2010
7:33 pm

Joe Mather with the .525 OPS for the Cardinals? He’s no more significant an addition than Joe Thurston was last year.

Low Key

November 8th, 2010
7:33 pm

I really hope Frank Wren works some magic to get someone unexpected, most of those options look mediocre at best, especially with Chipper as a question mark. His salary being a question mark for 2011 really puts us in an awkward spot on the free agent market.

ISH

November 8th, 2010
7:34 pm

Great blog DOB, I’m gonna have to pass on Pat the Bat…

Lollygagger

November 8th, 2010
7:34 pm

Heck, if we’re getting creative and not ruling out anything… why don’t we just offer Jayson Werth a contract paying him $1 million each year for 4 years and then $71 million in 2015. Whaddya think, Boras?

booquinn

November 8th, 2010
7:35 pm

Very well done DOB, great info. I am with you on Millwood, an innings eater who could be inspired being back in familair surroundings. I would hate to think of the Braves in ‘11 without Diaz, a gamer who gives you 100%, a rare find this day and age.

Awaiting the John Malone and Arthur Blank lunch in Midtown….

nolie

November 8th, 2010
7:35 pm

one player with speed is not gonna solve anything, that needs to be corrected in the draft which Wren seems to be addressing, not spending one player a year. we need a good hitter more than one speedster

jeffrey d

November 8th, 2010
7:36 pm

I see we still know how to be inconsiderate

N8

November 8th, 2010
7:36 pm

Nice job DOB. Now that’s a blog that stokes the hot stove.

Let’s get this train a rollin’!!

SCJames

November 8th, 2010
7:36 pm

VaBravesFan, well we could do that and just supply the Brewers with a World Series team like we did Texas lol

nobreggie4dawggies

November 8th, 2010
7:37 pm

nolie

November 8th, 2010
6:59 pm
goodness that’s a long one. Thanx

That is what the missus said to me last night… :-)

Lollygagger

November 8th, 2010
7:37 pm

Jim-
so you’re saying you think Mather doesn’t even make the team? I don’t have a crytal ball… but I think he’ll play for the Braves in 2011.

nobreggie4dawggies

November 8th, 2010
7:38 pm

how do i delete that last comment now…

Attention Braves Fans!

November 8th, 2010
7:39 pm

Thanks for the blog.

Joe Mather scares me. Why? Because he is the lastest in the Braves created buzz where the fans are supposed to think he is a real solution… to what? A guy who has hit less than .250? A guy who is supposed to surplant Diaz? Don’t mention Berkman in the same breath as Mather because Berkman will lose?

Mather is a warm body, nothing more. Chris Woodward was that type player. He can play a number of positions for the Braves but so could Conrad and a few other nameless players who booted their way through the late season and playoffs.

The only unexpected from Wren that would surprise me is if he actually came up with a difference making player rather than some bargain bin guy that we have to hope can regain a once held form.

N8

November 8th, 2010
7:40 pm

DOB, are you a fan of Artie Lang’s standup stuff? I really wasn’t, but a buddy borrowed me his latest (might not even be that new). But there’s a bit in there where he’s talking about the Best Damn Sports Show sending him down on the field at Yankee Stadium and John Sterling comes up to him and asks him “who the hell let YOU down here?”

To which Artie responds “I won a Susan Waldman look-alike contest”, to which he stated he thought Sterling would get mad, but to his surprise, Sterling said that he could see the resemblance!

Just cracked me up with the impersonation of Sterling’s voice on there. Braves fans who remember, Sterling was just AWFUL to listen to in the 80’s. Not sure who was worse. Him or the emotion-less Billy Sample.

Not much else funny on the standup bit. But knowing how Sterling is and how butt-ugly Susan is….. that’s funny.

DS1

November 8th, 2010
7:41 pm

Imagine this: the Braves do not pursue Matt Diaz. He goes to the Padres and hits 300/350/450 in a platoon role. That’s his career average, including his off/uninjured years.

Now if he hits like he does when NOT injured during the season, his line might resemble 325/375/480.

That scares me. I don’t like McLouth as a platoon lefty, but who knows. If we could get another CF’er, then who could we platoon Matty with in LF to give us the outfield bats we need. (and please, let’s pass on Hinske as a platoon OF’er) Hinske showed last year what happens when he is overused.

TennesseePaul

November 8th, 2010
7:41 pm

Thanks for the work DOB.

I like the new Arcade Fire album. Not as much as the first two, bu this is a solid album. Favorites off of it are Rococo and The Suburbs (continued).

Way more uplifting than the new Interpol. I need to listen to that more, but so far it’s too depressing in its mood to put on more frequently.

nolie

November 8th, 2010
7:42 pm

not sure if Mather makes the team or not. he is obviously well fitted to the Braves needs, but can he hit enough? If they do not get a decent hitter I’m not sure he makes it out of ST and if he doesn’t he will have to be optioned. If we get a hitter he seems like a great 4th OFer option.
If they see him as an allover sub they may still keep someone else as a 4th OFer. Too early to really have any idea yet I think

TnBrian

November 8th, 2010
7:42 pm

I say:

Ordonez = no. Old, expensive, injury risk.

Burrell = no, unless we can get a speedy CF. Never ever, in a million years want to see Nate McLouth as the everyday CF as a Brave again. Ever.

Berkman = no. Old, washed up.

Upton = maybe because he’s still only 25 and has upside. Also he has a chance to come cheap.

Ellsbury = yes. Need speed at the top. We were to get him, my mind might change on taking a chance signing a guy like Burrell to play LF. (God help us …Burrell roaming LF at Turner Field).

Rasmus = of course, but he’s not coming to the Braves

Kemp = kind of, but probably won’t even be traded anyways

Posednik = no. If he could play a good CF, yes, but I don’t think he can. Easier to find a power hitting corner OF than it is a CF. No to him.

Delbert D.

November 8th, 2010
7:42 pm

Chipper needs to think about Boston really hard. He would be great up there as a DH.

Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!)

November 8th, 2010
7:42 pm

Lollygagger, include Derrek Lee, Rick Ankiel, Casey Kotchman, Garret Anderson and Ryan Church in the 2009-2010 conversation. The only exception was Adam LaRoche of whom the Braves should have kept around until Freddie Freeman was ready to take over, and I’m talking about that idiotic trade with the Pirates in 2007 after LaRoche put up 32 HR’s and 90 RBI.

Dent

November 8th, 2010
7:43 pm

If you are going to reach look at a buy low situation where the return can be great. Im thinking of a Grady Sizemore. Coming off two injury filled seasons but all the raw talent is there. You would have to give up a pair of prospects but not your top one. The Braves and Indians have a history of making trades with each other. Indians need pitching. That is the kind of player to go after. You would have to pay a higher price than his past two years performance.

Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!)

November 8th, 2010
7:44 pm

I’m pretty sure that Mather is out of options, so he’s likely to make the team out of spring training barring injury.

Les Weiss

November 8th, 2010
7:45 pm

When did we last have an above average, fulltime left-fielder ??? We seem to always be trying to fill the LF hole with players from other positions (Chipper, Klesko) who can’t field the position very well.

Without doing a bunch of research on it, does anyone know off-hand ??

Lollygagger

November 8th, 2010
7:45 pm

Joe Mather scares me. Why? Because he is the lastest in the Braves created buzz where the fans are supposed to think he is a real solution…

please tell us what to think, AttentionBravesFans!

TnBrian

November 8th, 2010
7:45 pm

I bet Joe Mather’s name is getting mentioned more in the last week or so than it will all of next season. I see him as irrelevant with the ‘11 Atlanta Braves.

N8

November 8th, 2010
7:47 pm

“Joe Mather scares me. Why? Because he is the lastest in the Braves created buzz where the fans are supposed to think he is a real solution… to what?”

What does Mather NEED to be the solution to?

He’s slated (if healthy) to be Freeman’s backup. Let me restate that with the emphasis that it deserves…..

He is going to be backing up a guy that the Braves expect to start about 140+ games per year, and be a bench player. Nothing more. If they get more out of him??? GREAT!!!!

If last winter, DOB would have said that it looks like 10 year minor league journeyman Brooks Conrad has a good shot at being on the Braves bench in 2010, NOBODY would have blinked an eye of excitement over it. Many would have pissed and moaned about it. Some might have even called for Wren to be fired.

If you’ve got nothing better to do than to worry about a guy the Braves claimed off waivers who might be the 24th or 25th guy on the roster…. you need to sit down and take a deep breath. You’re stressing over a low risk/high reward waiver wire signing that might be as insignificant as Javy Lopez coming to spring training a few years back.

Attention Braves Fans!

November 8th, 2010
7:47 pm

Lollygagger…… don’t need to tell you what to think. You’re the guy who believes under all this horse crap is a pony if it comes from Braves management! lol

Eric In Albany N.Y.

November 8th, 2010
7:47 pm

TnBrian i agree!

DS1

November 8th, 2010
7:48 pm

If you’re going to take a look at Mather’s stats, then look at the last year he wasn’t injured. 2008, OPS of .780.

Doesn’t mean he will repeat that, but he won’t hit .525 OPS and stay in ATL very long.

DaveFromDallas(NC)

November 8th, 2010
7:48 pm

I really was excited with what I saw from the Braves this sesaon…at times. At times, my wife had to tell me to stop jumping from the coffee table. I can’t bear another year of the marching band in left and center field. It didnt’ matter who they put out there. They were horrible. What concerns me most heading into this season, however, is that Atlanta catch the ball better. They just stunk it up late in the season out in the field. Their pitching can keep them in games. Defense and clutch hitting- or any hitting in their case- wins championships.

Jinx

November 8th, 2010
7:49 pm

N8

November 8th, 2010
7:49 pm

“I’m pretty sure that Mather is out of options, so he’s likely to make the team out of spring training barring injury.”

Or he could be claimed by another team that claims he’s an “answer” or solution.

Braves have nothing to lose with him. If he sucks and can’t help the team… try and send him down. If somebody else grabs him? So be it.

Trey - 6

November 8th, 2010
7:49 pm

I am just ready to see what we do.

Jake W.

November 8th, 2010
7:49 pm

Chipper needs to think about Boston really hard. He would be great up there as a DH.

Ironic thing is after Chipper got injured, Martin and especially Brooks found a way to botch the most routine of plays. He isn’t as good anymore with the lack of range but he’s steady and if he gives us at least what he gave us last year i’ll take it.

Crazy?

November 8th, 2010
7:49 pm

How about platoon of jeremy hermida and jeff francoeur? Salary would be reasonable wouldn’t it? and upside would be tremendous if these guys could get it together.

Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!)

November 8th, 2010
7:50 pm

Look, Mather is pre-arbitration eligible and will make the ML minimum. If he bombs in a Braves uniform nobody will care because Mather cost us next to nothing.

ISH

November 8th, 2010
7:52 pm

Les Weiss

Off the top of my head, I’m thinking Ron Gant…

Lollygagger

November 8th, 2010
7:52 pm

Attention-

Dude, I never said I thought he was the end-all solution. I was merely checking the water temperature on how the blog felt about him. The most I ever suggested was him as a platoon guy. Don’t know where you got idea that I’m putting him the All-Star game or something like that.

Braveheart

November 8th, 2010
7:52 pm

The only exception was Adam LaRoche of whom the Braves should have kept around until Freddie Freeman was ready to take over, and I’m talking about that idiotic trade with the Pirates in 2007 after LaRoche put up 32 HR’s and 90 RBI.

Yeah, the more I hear folks b!tch about the Tex trade, the more I wonder why they don’t b!tch more about the trade that necessitated the Tex trade, which, of course, was the Laroche trade.

I guess though that the final verdict on that Laroche trade can’t be issued for another decade until we see how Lipka and Cunningham turn out.

JMar

November 8th, 2010
7:52 pm

Peter Moylan is definitely a non-tender candidate. If they do tender him, I hope it’s because they think they can move him, but there’s a lot of free agent relief talent out there. He’s an okay pitcher and a helluva guy, but not for a raise in a salary that matches his raise in BB rate.

Lollygagger

November 8th, 2010
7:53 pm

Yikes, man. Joe Mather getting run over by all four tires on tonight’s blog.

Braveheart

November 8th, 2010
7:54 pm

Look, Mather is pre-arbitration eligible and will make the ML minimum. If he bombs in a Braves uniform nobody will care because Mather cost us next to nothing.

Yeah, but it might cost them Matt Diaz, which if you like Diaz, you’ll say that’s costing them something, and if you don’t like Diaz, you’ll say that’s next to nothing

TnBrian

November 8th, 2010
7:55 pm

I look at it like this — SOMEBODY is going to be platooning with Nate in LF. Not CF. I think Wren and the Braves saw all they wanted from him in center which was clear by the Ankiel trade. He wouldn’t throw the ball and he just looked out of place for some reason. I look for them to get a CF through a trade and probably sign a either a LF with some power, or just keep Diaz around to platoon with Nate. Depends on who the CF is they get.

GTSteve

November 8th, 2010
7:55 pm

So glad Joe Morgan is done

Braint

November 8th, 2010
7:56 pm

Diaz offered to possibly take the same salary as last year and not go to arbitration? $2.55 Million for a less than mediocre LF who hit .250 with 7 HR and 31 RBI? Gee, thanks.

mr baseball

November 8th, 2010
7:56 pm

For all those advocating that the Braves absolutely must add speed to their roster, a little history.

One of the main reasons the Braves went from a perennial World Series participant to one that hasn’t made it there in more than a decade was the alleged genius ex-GM’s quest to make the Braves a faster team.

Three of the trades that helped lead to the team’s gradual decline — Dye for Tucker, Justice & Grissom for Lofron, Boone & Klesko for Veras & Sanders — all were made in large part to make the Braves faster. To varying degrees, all were serious failures and started the team on a downward trend.

Also don’t understand the love for Mather. If he isn’t damaged goods, why did the Cards drop him from their roster? It isn’t money, and it’s not because the Cards are overloaded with talent. Right now, I count about 10 MLB caliber position players (excluding catchers) on their roster, so they evidently don’t think much about Mather’s talent, considering his obvious versatility.

The Giants proved you don’t need a “big bat in the middle of the order” to win a World Series. Strong starting pitching, a deep bullpen and a lineup with decent hitters up and down the order can more than compensate for a Pujols/ARod/Howard/Hamilton in the cleanup spot.

The Braves do not need to make themselves stronger in one spot at the expense of making themselves weaker elsewhere. Say to trading JJ and yes to being patient and seeing if a decent hitting OF becomes available.

Crawford & Werth ain’t coming here, but there are some quality players who can help the team at a much lower cost who will eventually appear on the market, either through trade or free agency.

If (a really big if) McLouth can approximate his former numbers, the Braves can live with the combo of Infante, Hinske & Diaz in LF. A decent RH hitter who can play CF would definitely help, but not at the expense of Jurrjens or one of the team’s elite pitching prospects.

Eric In Albany N.Y.

November 8th, 2010
7:56 pm

Many would have pissed and moaned about it. Some might have even called for Wren to be fired. If you’ve got nothing better to do than to worry about a guy the Braves claimed off waivers who might be the 24th or 25th guy on the roster…. you need to sit down and take a deep breath. You’re stressing over a low risk/high reward waiver wire signing that might be as insignificant as Javy Lopez coming to spring training a few years back.

thats the most truth expressed on this blog in a long time. this is the time of the yr GM’s are trying to add bubble gum to the holes in the dam and fill roster spots with minor league/ bench players for cheap. this is far from the time when GM’s are looking to put the cherry on top of their line-ups i would guess wren is going to tweak the bullpen a little more and trim some fat b4 he makes any sort of move that solvs any holes in the batting order.

oh yeah and lets all remember.. the team has gotten better under wren!

Attention Braves Fans!

November 8th, 2010
7:56 pm

N8, I usually agree with you, but not on this one.

This years Braves team ran folks onto the DL list like popcorn jumping off a hot plate! If a career .300 hitter like Diaz goes away because Mather, a career sub .250 hitter is on the roster, it will bite the Braves. Hinske? Gold! He needs to come back. Diaz? Unless you can find a guy to play left field every day, he needs to come back. Mather? He ain’t proven anything on the big league level other than he can play a bunch of positions and hit sub .250. The utility guy who plays everywhere bit the Braves butt last season. (see defense)

Some of you guys kill me. You act like just any warm body is good enough to be on the 25 man roster. Did you guys sleep all summer? The bench guys frequently become the starters especially when you have some…shall we say….. feeble, expensive, older players.

Plate Appearance

November 8th, 2010
7:58 pm

WHY NOT ANDRUW?

If the Braves want more home runs, better defense, and a higher OPS in left or even center, Andruw Jones it seems would be a better bet than Pat Burrell.

bobbymahlon

November 8th, 2010
7:58 pm

Pat Burrell (11 strikeouts in 13 at bats)would be the last player in the world that I would like to see them sign. If you think we are going to reach post season with guys like that you got rocks in your head.

Les Weiss

November 8th, 2010
7:59 pm

Ron Gant is a long time ago.

Lollygagger

November 8th, 2010
7:59 pm

TnBrian-
what you say in your 7:55 post makes some sense. The Ankiel aquisition sent 2 messages: Braves were not satisfied with what they had in CF, nor were they pleased with power production of the OF. Not a whole lot of CFers available that provide power production, so a trade for an Ellsbury or a signing of Podsednik could very likely happen and thus creating a platoon in LF.

David O'Brien

November 8th, 2010
8:00 pm

Coach, Mather is indeed out of options.

jeffrey d

November 8th, 2010
8:01 pm

Man, just saw our old buddy BIOMASS pop in for a couple sweet words for Mike Luckovich

I think you flat-out suck. I hope you get run over by a bus.

David O'Brien

November 8th, 2010
8:01 pm

Chipper needs to think about Boston really hard. He would be great up there as a DH. — Delbert D.

Delbert, you need to think about the $12.5 million option on designated hitter David Ortiz for 2011, the option the Red Sox exercised last week.

Braveheart

November 8th, 2010
8:02 pm

How about platoon of jeremy hermida and jeff francoeur? Salary would be reasonable wouldn’t it? and upside would be tremendous if these guys could get it together.

Sign me up! I won’t be happy until each and every member of the East Cobb team graduates to wearing a Braves uni together!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jarryd

November 8th, 2010
8:03 pm

DOB,

You see the last episode of The Officer when Jim put his kid in the Arcade Fire shirt?

Braveheart

November 8th, 2010
8:04 pm

Coach, Mather is indeed out of options.

But is Thorman out of options?

Eric In Albany N.Y.

November 8th, 2010
8:04 pm


How about platoon of jeremy hermida and jeff francoeur? Salary would be reasonable wouldn’t it? and upside would be tremendous if these guys could get it together.

Please No More Francoeur!!!!!

Kat

November 8th, 2010
8:05 pm

Thanks for the new blog David. It was a nice read as I watch the snow fall tonight. Winter is officially here, well in NY anyways.

Jarryd

November 8th, 2010
8:06 pm

cheshire

November 8th, 2010
8:07 pm

Ugh… this and other articles i’ve read about the offseason possibilities for the Braves are so discouraging. It seems like every option is getting someone who’s almost 40 and hoping he can survive the entire season or getting someone who hasn’t had a good season in years.

It doesn’t give me a lot of confidence as a Braves fan that we’re going to be able to compete with teams who have 2 or almost 3 times our payroll. Until we have a new owner i just can’t realistically see us competing for a World Series title when these are our options for improving our team.

Kat

November 8th, 2010
8:08 pm

Eric In Albany N.Y. …been wanting to post a hello to you. Who would have thought there would be more than one person from the Capital Region posting on an AJC blog? :)

AdirondackDave

November 8th, 2010
8:08 pm

DOB — Thanks for the great start for the hot stove season. Here’s a question or three for you. How do you see the market for Lowe this year compared to this time last year? Also, if it turns out there appears to be significant interest in Lowe this year, do you see the Braves considering a deal for an outfielder or prospects. My thinking was, if Lowe were traded, Vazquez could be brought back in with a 1 + 1 option offer. Seems like Javy’s comfort zone is in the NL and maybe with the Braves in particular. He had a very positive influence on JJ I think you mentioned.

Eric In Albany N.Y.

November 8th, 2010
8:08 pm

how to K Francoeur….

Low and away… strike 1
Low and away… strike 2
Low and away… ball 1
Upstairs… ball 2
Up a little higher… K

TnBrian

November 8th, 2010
8:09 pm

I don’t think some of you realize what a guy like Ellsbury could do for us. He runs like hell and whether or not the stat geeks want to throw his defensive stats at me and how they’ve declined or whatever, I know I’ve seen him weekly on ESPN making highlight reel cathes before. Didn’t his injury play a part in his declining defense? Did the Red Sox not have Cameron in LF on opening day? Yeah, they had a GG CF in LF for Ellsbury. He must’ve been good before his rib injury.

Anyways, not only can he steal a ton of bases for us, but it also allows Prado to move to his best spot in the lineup, 2nd. I don’t like Burrell, at all, but if he coul come cheap and hit for some power, he coul be a steal. He sucks in the OF, but it’d only be LF and McLost would probably platoon with him on ocassion.

Whatever, I like Ellsbury and think he could be a gem of trade for us.

Eric In Albany N.Y.

November 8th, 2010
8:09 pm

Kat Where Ya Live?
Im in the not so beautiful city of rensselaer

Braveheart

November 8th, 2010
8:09 pm

the braves did score 40 runs above average last year, mostly due to having an OBP 16 points above average. It concerns me that two pieces we’ve added — Gonzalez and Mather — are terrible OBP batters, and that a third piece we’ve added, Freeman, will likely have a much lower OBP than what Glaus and Lee combined for.

Jerry

November 8th, 2010
8:10 pm

DOB, do you think that the Braves are more likely going after a lead off man, or a middle of the order hitter? Personally, I think that a lead off hitter such as Ellsbury, DeJesus, or Bourn would be perfect, and allow Prado to drop to 3rd or 5th in the lineup.

MiaBchBravesFan

November 8th, 2010
8:14 pm

Excellent blog!!!

Werth is a product of hitting in a lineup with Victorino, Utley, Howard, and Rollins (just like Ibañez). If Werth goes to a marginally lesser team, I will bet the house he’ll be a cropper outside of philly.

My hunch on Burrell is that he will be too expensive, or, he will give SF a hometown discount to stay on the Bay.

Even with a modest increase in payroll, the Braves would do well to stay within their means and obtain a second tier starting OF (a 3-4 tool player) because they will be looking to sign Heyward and Hanson long term in 2012. Liberty will look to sell a team with VERY few albatross contracts (like Lowe, Chipper, McLouth, & KK), and a top notch farm system.

I do not know how the OF crop looks for this year’s upcoming draft, but the Braves need to draft a truckload, especially from college so they’ll be MLB ready sooner!

The Braves management will be prepping for a sale. Few long term contracts and a loaded farm system will be the formula for selling within the next 3-4 years. Fredi is the right man for the job, as the Braves will get decidedly younger – especially after 2012.

TnBrian

November 8th, 2010
8:15 pm

Braveheart, now you’re mentioning Mather. Why? He looks like he’s been a career minor leaguer for the most part. Why would he now be MLB material for us? I do agree with you on the OBP thing. That was a huge weapon for us this season.

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