Braves have 2 big needs, and the means to fill them

Their postseason lasted just one day, and the Braves enter the offseason with some high priorities: fill the void of retired icon Chipper Jones, decide what to do about banged-up recent franchise cornerstone Brian McCann, and determine whether to replace or overspend to keep free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn.

An option to consider: Prado (left) could replace Chipper at third base and the Braves could get a left fielder via trade or free agency.

An option to consider: Prado (left) could replace Chipper at third base and the Braves could get a left fielder via trade or free agency.

If I were making the decisions, I’d move Martin Prado to third base for 2013; pick up the option on McCann and decide later whether to offer an extension; acquire a left fielder via trade (Josh Willingham tops my list for performance and affordability) or free agency (Nick Swisher or Cody Ross?); and try to sign free agent Angel Pagan to play center field for less than what Bourn would cost.

But before getting into details about those moves, it’s important to consider how much money that general manager Frank Wren has to spend. That’s never as easy as it might be, because the Braves are reluctant to divulge their spending limits, or specifics on how they calculate some contracts for payroll purposes.

We’ll assume their Opening Day payroll will be around $95 million, a small increase as the Braves have previously indicated.

They’ll shed the salaries of Jones, who made $14 million in 2012, and Derek Lowe, who didn’t pitch for Atlanta but still cost the Braves $10 million in the final season of his contract. They are also likely to non-tender or release pitcher Jair Jurrjens, who made $5.5 million in 2012.

That’s nearly $30 million freed up, plus the $6.845 million that Bourn made (if he’s re-signed it’ll likely be for more than double that).

Several Braves will receive significant raises through arbitration for 2013, so by my estimation the team figures to have about $25 million to fill its two major needs, after rounding out the bench and bullpen. That’s enough to get it done, and done well.

Here’s what the returners could make: The Opening Day starting rotation should be strong and cheap, costing only about $22 million to $23 million if the Braves pick up the $9 million option on Tim Hudson and $6.5 million option on Paul Maholm. Then add first-time arbitration-eligibles Kris Medlen and Tommy Hanson, with Medlen making perhaps $2.5 million and Hanson close to $4 million, and Mike Minor, who isn’t arb-eligible and will make well below $1 million.

(Medlen is a tough one to predict for arbitration salary, because of his bouncing back and forth between the bullpen and rotation and missing nearly a season recovering from elbow surgery.)

I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the options on Hudson and Maholm, both reasonable and affordable for what those veterans provide. And while Hanson had another erratic season and disappointing second half, he’s too young and talented to let go, and his trade value wouldn’t be high enough this offseason to warrant a trade.

How much per season should the Braves offer Michael Bourn in a 5-year contract?

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The Braves are better off trying to make sure he gets in good shape this winter and has a strong first half to increase his value before Brandon Beachy, recovering from “Tommy John” elbow surgery, comes off the disabled list around the All-Star break.

The bullpen should again be one of the two or three best in baseball with the return of closer Craig Kimbrel, who still isn’t arbitration eligible yet after tying for the NL saves lead two years in a row, and top setup man Eric O’Flaherty, whose salary could rise to around $4 million in his last arbitration season.

O’Flaherty is too good not to bring back at that price, and first-time arb guy Jonny Venters will probably get about $1.5 million. Cristhian Martinez is also eligible for arbitration and the Braves will need to bring him back (he’ll be below $1 million) or find another long reliever.

Luis Avilan figures to have a ‘pen role for sure, and so could Cory Gearrin. Veterans Chad Durbin and Peter Moylan are possibilities to return.

That’s roughly $9 million for the bullpen, if they add another veteran or pay Martinez, and about $31-32 million for the pitching staff as a whole.

The Braves have $13 million committed to second baseman Dan Uggla. Prado could command a raise to well over $7 million in his final arb year, and right fielder Jason Heyward is arb-eligible for the first time and could get about $3.5 million. (He’s another I’d seriously look into trying to sign long-term this winter.)

First baseman Freddie Freeman and rookie Andrelton Simmons are non-arb guys who won’t cost much.

Which brings us to the important decisions.

– Move Prado to third base. I’d try to lock him up to a multi-year contract extension now, at three years or more with an average value of about $10 million. He doesn’t hit home runs, but Prado does everything else, plus he’s a terrific team guy who wants to stay with the Braves and can help fill the leadership void with Jones gone.

McCann could soon have surgery on his right shoulder. The Braves have a decision to make on a $12 million team option on his contract for 2013.

McCann could soon have surgery on his right shoulder. The Braves have a decision to make on a $12 million team option on his contract for 2013.

– Pick up McCann’s option. I can’t see not picking it up, considering all he’s done for the franchise and the fact they don’t have a catcher ready to replace him. If he needs surgery, part of his salary would be paid by insurance if he misses some of the season.

McCann had an dye-contract MRI this week and is weighing his options regarding surgery, which seems likely. He said Saturday that depending upon the type of surgery, he might need as little as two months of recovery this offseason, or as many as four to five months.

McCann, a six-time former All-Star, has been slowed for much of the past 1-1/2 seasons, first by returning too soon from an oblique injury in 2011 and developing bad habits with his swing to protect his side, then by the shoulder injury that cropped up just a few weeks after he’d finally gotten his swing fixed in July (he hit .308 with nine homers and 21 RBIs in an 18-game stretch in July before his shoulder began barking).

Pick up the option, then wait until later in the season to see how top catching prospect Christian Bethancourt develops in the minors. Bethancourt and slugging minor league catcher/left fielder Evan Gattis missed a lot of time for injuries in 2012 and both probably need to spend at least another full season in the minors.

– The Braves should, and I think will, sign backup catcher David Ross. If they need to sign another journeyman-type catcher to a one-year contract this winter after the McCann health situation becomes clear, they’ll have plenty of time to do so.

That should leave about $25 million to fill out the bench and get a left fielder and center fielder. On the bench, I’d try to re-sign outfielder Reed Johnson, who is a superb pinch-hitter and can back up all three outfield positions. He hits well against lefties and isn’t bad against righties.

– The Braves should try to persuade the Twins to trade left fielder Willingham, though it won’t be easy given his production in 2012 and club-friendly contract with salaries of $7 million each of the next two seasons. I’d dangle a trade package that includes a pitching prospect, Randall Delgado or possibly even Julio Teheran, as much as that would make some fans howl. A year ago, I’d have said no way, but Teheran’s performance in his second season in Triple-A raised some red flags and scouts say his stuff wasn’t nearly as good as it had been a year earlier, for whatever reason.

It’s still hard to trade a guy with potential top-of-the-rotation ability, but the Twins don’t have to accept anything less to part with a guy whose contract is as team-friendly as Willingham’s coming off the season he had had.

The Braves simply must get more right-handed balance in their lineup this winter. Can’t go another year without fixing that.

Willingham will be 34 in February, but had a .366 OBP and .890 OPS in 2012, and his 35 homers and 110 RBIs would easily have led the Braves.

He did it while striking out fewer times than Uggla, Bourn or Heyward, and  while playing home games in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, Minnesota’s Target Field, where he hit .293 with a team-high 21 homers and a whopping 1.017 OPS. (By comparison, Twins teammate Joe Mauer had four homers and an .878 OPS in 75 home games.)

If you can’t trade for Willingham or use some of the pitching depth to trade for another productive player under a reasonable contract, then go after a free agent such as Swisher or Ross, although Ross might be more expensive and harder to sign this winter than he was a year ago after the season he had with Boston, where he hit .267 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs in 130 games while making $3 million.

Swisher, who’ll be 32 in November, made $10.25 million and hit .272 with 24 homers, a .364 OBP and .837 OPS in 148 games, the  fifth consecutive season in which he had at least 23 homers and the fourth in a row with more than 80 RBIs and an OPS above .820.

Despite playing home games in a hitter-friendly ballpark, Swisher had similar stats on the road. Curtis Granderson (17) was the only Yankee with more road homers than Swisher (13), whose .841 road OPS was higher than those posted by Granderson or Alex Rodriguez and just behind Derek Jeter’s .858.

Switch-hitting center fielder Angel Pagan could be a (far) cheaper option than Michael Bourn.

Switch-hitting center fielder Angel Pagan could be a (far) cheaper option than Michael Bourn.

Swisher hit .270 with five  homers and a .769 OPS in 185 at-bats vs. lefties. He didn’t crush lefties like Willingham in 2012, but during the prior three seasons Swisher hit .289 with 19 homers and an .889 OPS in 499 at-bats vs. lefties.

But the thing is, Swisher might command a salary of more than double the $7 million that Willingham will make each of the next two seasons, and for about twice as long.

– Which leaves us with the potential biggest move of the offseason, center field and the Bourn dilemma.

After hitting .311 with 30 extra-base hits and a .366 on-base percentage in 85 games before the All-Star break, Bourn hit .225 with 15 extra-base hits and a .325 OBP in 70 games after the break. He hit .195 with 36 strikeouts in his last 34 games.

And after leading the NL in steals for three seasons, including 61 steals each in 2009 and 2011, Bourn had 42 steals in 2012 and was caught 13 times, second-most in his career.

Bourn’s agent is Scott Boras, who is expected to ask for at least $15 million annually in a long-term contract for the leadoff man, and some believe he could even ask for closer to $18 million annually, though that seems less likely since Bourn’s second-half decline.

If I’m the Braves, I wouldn’t go anywhere near that. In fact I probably wouldn’t go higher than $12 million per season, given how Bourn’s production fell off.

Instead, the Braves should pursue Pagan, the switch-hitting former Met who was traded to San Francisco last winter and hit .288 with a league-leading 15 triples, a career-best 38 doubles and eight homers to go with 29 steals in only 37 attempts (after stealing 32 in 39 attempts in ‘11, and 37 in 46 attempts in ’10).

Pagan did all that while making just $4.85 million. Offer him a four- or five-year deal at twice that salary before the market is even set.

Pagan’s OBP was only .338 in 2012 and .333 for his career, but he’s never struck out 100 times, and his .778 OPS was his best in three seasons as full-time player. He’ll be 31 in April — eight months older than Bourn, with a lot less mileage. And did we mention, he’s a switch-hitter?

Pagan will be cheaper than Bourn or Tampa Bay free agent B.J. Upton, who had 28 homers and 31 steals, but hit .246 with a .298 OBP. Upton has a .758 career OPS to Pagan’s .757, and Upton struck out more than 160 times each of the past three seasons.

Besides Upton, Shane Victorino is another free-agent option, though he’ll be 32 and coming off a season in which his OPS fell from .847 in 2011 to a career-low .704 and his OBP to .321.

* OK, let close this with a great tune from singer-songwriter Greg Holden, which you may have heard during the recent wake scene on Sons of Anarchy. And if you  don’t watch Sons of Anarchy, what is wrong with you? (Kidding. Sort of.) You can hear it by clicking here.

kilburn31631

“THE LOST BOY” by  Greg Holden

I left my home still as a child, I walked a thousand sorry miles
To wait for my father, to gather up his tools
He said my boy you’ve got to run, don’t wait for me, don’t wait for mum
We’ll come get you, when it’s safe for us to move

So I waited many years, held back the pain behind my tears
For my father, to come find me like he said
And in that time I was alone, so many years without my home
I made brothers of a different kind instead

And at the time I didn’t know, just how hard the wind could blow
Towards disaster, and the things that I would see
I never found my father, I never found my mother
Even would I know in my lifetime I will be

A hero into the masses, to those born without chances
There’s a freedom that everyone deserves
I know there’s greed and there’s corruption
I’ve seen death and mass destruction
But I’m telling you, and I hope that I’m heard

I will not be commanded
I will not be controlled
And I will not let my future go on
Without the help of my soul

And I will not be commanded
And I will not be controlled
And I will not let my future go on
Without the help of my soul

And I will not be commanded
And I will not be controlled
And I will not let my future go on
Without the help of my soul

I will not be commanded
I will not be controlled
And I will not let my future go on
Without the help of my soul

– David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

6,748 comments Add your comment

jim lanham

October 10th, 2012
7:46 pm

the SOA version of lost boy has a longer piano intro…i gotta have that version…not available anywhere yet?

Kevin

October 10th, 2012
7:48 pm

If you are going to trade a Tehran/Delgado to the Twins see if they would expand the deal to include one of their other outfielders–Span or Rivera. Pagan would be great pick up–saw where some speculate the phillies will offer bourn 5/55 million

Weaseal

October 10th, 2012
7:50 pm

hahhhhh I’m 3rd yeah !!!!!

TheOnlyBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
7:54 pm

but you keep making it sound like that is the big reason he (Willingham) is wanted

Nope. That’s a reason why I want to stay away. I don’t think he’ll be worth the price in prospects. And, okay, throw road numbers out. That’s fine (though hitting on the road is good).However, his splits vs. lefties the last 2 years have been quite poor. Can we ignore that? I mean, we are acquiring him to be our RH power bat that mashes lefties, right?

Not Understanding

October 10th, 2012
7:54 pm

So how smart is the pop-up slide when the pop-up slide costs you an out because you couldn’t hold the bag?

Not the first time I’ve seen someone hold the tag while a guy using the pop-up gets called out for losing the bag on the pop up.

This is very similar to the headfirst slide and all the hand injuries. Always going to be someone to defend it even if it causes lots of injuries and trips to the DL.

TheOnlyBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
7:56 pm

Medlen’s dominance during the season’s second half, combined with Minor’s impressive second-half turnaround, essentially negated the need for the Braves to enter this winter bidding for Zack Greinke or any other potential starting pitchers. The most pressing question entering the 2013 season will center around who will serve as the fifth starter.

Darn shame. We need an ace. Figuring out who between Delgado, Teheran, Gilmartin, or Hanson makes the team isn’t really that big.

BravesDude

October 10th, 2012
7:57 pm

Great article DOB! This should be a very interesting off-season, i’m still feeling very optimistic about this team.

DIPEN PATEL

October 10th, 2012
7:58 pm

WE need to be bringing back MICHEAL BOURN, especially if WE can and CHIPPER JONES will be TOTALLY TOUGH to replace,but I’M TOTALLY SURE the BRAVES can TOTALLY OVERCOME replacing a baseman from the FARM OF COURSE.

Efrim

October 10th, 2012
7:59 pm

Victorino another option, DOB? Or you worried about the 2012 stats? I like Pagan. I guess it all depends on cost, as usual. I’d probably stay away from Swisher. Just think he’ll want too much. Pagan will probably get a four year deal on the open market. Not sure I’d go that high, but his AAV shouldn’t be ridiculous.

Chipper's Southern Bell

October 10th, 2012
8:00 pm

Im sure Bourn enjoyed this story but he is probably in Houston

Hawes

October 10th, 2012
8:01 pm

They should also kick the tires on Torii Hunter. Solid RH bat for LF.

TheOnlyBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
8:04 pm

I think the priority should be findind a really good hitter – who creams LHP and certainly holds his own weight vs. RHP.

Cody Ross. Career split of .284/.353/.575/.928 vs. lefties in almost as many ABs as Willingham has.

Willingham is at .250/.369/.503/.872 vs. lefties. Both do okay vs. righties.

Also, no need to trade a top prospect to get Ross.

Not Understanding

October 10th, 2012
8:05 pm

I agree with virtually everything you said DOB, with the exception of Hanson.

“And while Hanson had another erratic season and disappointing second half, he’s too young and talented to let go, and his trade value wouldn’t be high enough this offseason to warrant a trade.”

He’s not too young to be Chuck James right handed version. His velocity is down. His mechanics are circus like.

Cut your losses, trade for a bag of balls! He is NEVER going to be worth any financial investment and is going to cost too much to keep. He is arm/shoulder surgery waiting to happen.

And finally, he is represented by Boros.

’nuff said.

Bobby Bobby

October 10th, 2012
8:11 pm

I would leave Pagan alone— I disagree with Wren- lineup will not just improve on a wish– I would really trade Uggla if possible- and if you could get a young CF-and a catcher trade BMac again if possible with his shoulder. If yanks lose to baltimore they could be had or Boston is a prime target with their bad season. They have a good core-leave some xtra bucks to get a big time starter mid year

borno

October 10th, 2012
8:14 pm

Good stuff DOB. Although I’d rather have Tehran than Hanson, if possible. Sad to see JJ go, but his performance is just so disappointing. And I REALLY hate to see Bourn go, but there’s no way we can afford him. Getting Pagan would be the only consolation that would make me feel better. I think Bourn is one of the best leadoff guys we’ve had in a long time, and he’s demonstrated why guys like Nixon, Lofton, et al were so important to the team way back when. Overall, hard not to be thrilled with these young pitchers. Such a bummer not to be in the NLDS. This was the first year in a while where I was really confident that we could do some damage. Peace.

Redbird88

October 10th, 2012
8:14 pm

News must travel slow down here below the mason/dixon line, but the Cards won 8-0 today as well. Seems AJC is “forgetting” to post the Cards-Nats scores since Sunday….hmmmm….Thanks again for your “southern hospitality” letting us in two years in a row now!!! “12 in 12″ let’s go Cards:)

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
8:15 pm

To me regardless of having 22 million and prospects to fill 2 everyday spots in the outfield, I still think there’s a good chance it doesn’t happen. But anyways…

#1 need in my opinion is RH power bat who plays LF that can bat cleanup between Heyward and Freeman.

For CF, I think defense is priority. Target a player who plays great D with some offensive potential threw trade. Angel Pagan and Shane Victorino would be at the tops of my free agent list for CF mainly based on price, commitment, and realism. I wouldn’t go no more than 3 years for either of them.

George_George

October 10th, 2012
8:16 pm

Thank you DOB, very interresting.

Bobby's Beer Belly

October 10th, 2012
8:18 pm

It all depends on how the free agent market turns out when it comes to where Prado will play.

Scenario 1: We get a left fielder like Ludwick, Hunter, Ichiro, or Willingham. Prado would play third base.

Scenario 2: The left field market screws us and Martin plays left field. For third base we sign Scott Rolen or Kevin Youkillis, both of which should fit in well with this team.

I caution against Nick Swisher. He would be for our clubhouse a menace on par with Yunel Escobar.

Dum-Bass

October 10th, 2012
8:19 pm

No, no, no on Angel Pagan. The name itself is an oxymoron! He even looks evil, like one of those “voodoo doctors” in South America. If the Braves get AP, it will end up being an even worse “pox” on them, and believe me, they need all the help they can get from ABOVE, not down BELOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bobby's Beer Belly

October 10th, 2012
8:20 pm

On Pagan, he won’t repeat his triple numbers however his doubles and homers could increase.

Look folks, I really believe Uggla is due for a solid year. I think the law of averages is on our side that his head will be straight again.

I would deal for Zack Grienke, if at all possible. He would completely dominate on this team.

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
8:21 pm

Possible CF targets for Trade would be

Peter Bourjos
Ben Revere
Denard Span
Craig Gentry
Dexter Fowler
Chris Young
Drew Stubbs

BRAVESFAN

October 10th, 2012
8:21 pm

Great read, sounds like the path the Braves will probably go. The off season has to start with rewarding Prado, Heyward, Kimbrel, Hudson, Minor and that guy Medlen. At least the Braves have the advantage of knowing what happened with Bourn before they make a decision because besides his defense I don’t see why you would pay someone that kind of money who only plays for half a season.

ChipperisGod

October 10th, 2012
8:22 pm

Pagan could be a good option, but I also like Ben Revere a lot personally. Revere/Pagan or Willingham/Swisher would be great options.

Bourn is gone and I’m ok with that. Loved having here, he did great, but he’s asking for too much and tires in the second half. Mac is a tough option. Terrible last couple of years, but he showed me in July that when he’s healthy, he is still capable of going into beast mode. So… considering what he’s done for us, I say get him and hope he’s able to get healthy.

I am awfully concerned about old Mac though.

Worst case scenario, he has a bad year, we lose him in 2014 and Bethancourt will hopefully be ready by then. And while everyone is high off of Ross (as am I) let’s all remember how he did in 2011 when Mac went down the oblique. He’s not an everyday catcher, amazing back up. The best there is. But not an everyday starter for an extended period of time.

If Mac and Uggla can rebound and have big years, we can win the East. Freddie and Heyward are on the brink of becoming beasts, our pitching rotation is going to be very solid. No 8 game losing streaks here. If we can just somehow someway find some good players via free agency or trade to fill the void in either LF, 3B or CF pending wherever we put Prado, we could be great next year.

Just need a couple of pieces and a little more maturity and growth.

I do disagree with you on one thing, DOB. Hanson… I’ve personally seen enough. I know he was thought to be our next great pitcher, but he’s declined so much over the last year and a half that I don’t know about running him back out there again and again is going to solve anything. He needs to either learn to be a finesse pitcher or find that lost velocity. If he can’t, and I don’t think he will given his performance, we gotta trade him asap. There’s no room for him once Brandon comes back.

I think Randall is ready to take that next step. Haven’t seen enough of Tehran. But Minor is only going to get better, Meds will hopefully continue to pitch how he has been, Huddy is always reliable and Maholm is very solid. If we get Beachy back, our rotation will be top notch with three excellent pitchers, a former ace and a solid workhorse in Paul.

Bullpen is the bullpen. They’re beasts and will continue to be. Hope Jonny can bounce back and have a better year in 2013. EOF deserves whatever he wants. Didn’t allow a run since July? He’s insane.

Thanks for the blog, DOB. I miss them.

Choppinmama

October 10th, 2012
8:22 pm

Vote, vote then vote some more for Jason to win the Hank Aaron Award. We know he’ll have Hank’s vote!

ChipperisGod

October 10th, 2012
8:24 pm

And Maholm might be dealt at some point to make room for Beachy next year, if Brandon is ready for the rotation, and to make room for Dealgado.

Not Understanding

October 10th, 2012
8:24 pm

McClouth looks like the guy the Braves traded for but who never showed up in Atlanta.

AA

October 10th, 2012
8:29 pm

This McLouth guy seems pretty good for the O’s…I wonder if he could be had cheap…sorry, couldn’t resist.

DOB, I’ve read that Swisher could be asking for a Werthian type contract. I would love the Swisher/Pagan combo, but if he wants $15M or more (much less than Werth), I don’t see how Braves could have Swisher & a name CF, as even Pagan could reasonably make in the $7-9M range. If Wren is serious about his wanting more value than a specific player, I don’t see them getting both. Also, will this winter go like last year, with Hamilton going first, setting the market, then everyone else follows?

bulldogbubba

October 10th, 2012
8:30 pm

A good article with a well thought plan.I like all the moves if only they were a reality. Its gonna be tough waiting 4 months to find out how it wil come together. GO BRAVES!!! My choice for World Series is Baltimore and Cinncinati. Stinger2 are you out there?

Chop Chop

October 10th, 2012
8:33 pm

Posey or Braun for the Hank Aaron Award; Posey if you want to vote for a Georgia guy.

Scott from Fairburn

October 10th, 2012
8:35 pm

DOB, stoking the hot stove. Good stuff.

Wink

October 10th, 2012
8:36 pm

Wren when you fix your attention on a position player, say 3B or OF. Would you please focus on the players (strikeouts and how he performs with runners in scoring position, not that interested in his home runs).

We just missed the playoffs because we could not convert scoring opportunies in the 7,8,9 innings. The Cardinal on the other hand scored 3 runs while just getting 1 hit, yes there was a big error but they put the runners on to capitalize on the miscue. They forced a bad throw from Simmons and Uggla felt the pressure as well. The Cardinals have professional hitters…bunting, giving up an out to move runners…they did the little things necessary to get the victory.

The Braves need to learn how to manufacture runs and not miss opportunities. Can the team as a whole learn to advance runners, get the sacrafice fly, bunt to shake up the defense, force them to make a play…ie David Ross. We need professional hitters. In the playoffs, you need professional hitters…ie Braves14 Division Titles and 1 World Series championship.

Time to spend money on productive outs and timely hitting…give me a team of Martin Prado(s)…the home runs will come!

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
8:37 pm

Nick Swisher to me atleast is Dan Uggla in the OF mold.

Not Understanding

October 10th, 2012
8:40 pm

I know it is probably sacrilidge, but the Hank Aaron award is a meaningless award.

Why? Look above at the poster who wants fans to vote for Heyward. Why? This award is for the best hitter in the league! If anyone thinks Heyward is the best hitter in the NL they are on crack!

Another popularity award that has nothing to do with actual performance.

Kris

October 10th, 2012
8:41 pm

I really don’t think the Braves should spend big bucks on Bourne. He’s actually not a great leadoff hitter – he has speed, but he strikes out way to much and doesn’t draw nearly enough walks to fully utilize his speed on the basepath. I also think that with speed being the primary factor associated with his value and defensive skills that a long-term contract would be an albatross for this team in 2-3 years time. The fact is he isn’t going to get any faster and historically the value that guys with his type of skill-set bring to a team fades pretty quickly. I could see the Braves stuck in a bad contract situation as early as Year 2 or 3 of a 5-6 year contract. I’d much go cheaper and not be stuck with yet another dead weight contact (ala Kawakami, Lowe and now Uggla).

Mister Frisky

October 10th, 2012
8:42 pm

Good starting point DOB.I would say goodbye to McCann and package Uggla with as many guys as it takes to rid us of that rally killer.

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
8:43 pm

Dan Uggla before signing big contract at 31 years old.

Average of last 5 seasons before contract.

155 Games 263/349/488/837 31 HR 93 RBI 73 BB 152 K

Nick Swisher will also sign his new big contract at 31 years old.

Average of last 5 seasons.

150 Games 259/360/469/830 26 HR 84 RBI 82 BB 133 K

nolie

October 10th, 2012
8:43 pm

DOB has been reading my mail. I couldn’t have laid it out better ;)

nolie

October 10th, 2012
8:46 pm

However, his splits vs. lefties the last 2 years have been quite poor. Can we ignore that?…TOBF

what in the deuce is poor about a 920 OPS? The only thing poor was his batting average, the rest of his numbers were awesome. Batting average i s way less important that the other numbers

ChattTownBrian

October 10th, 2012
8:48 pm

How about sign Victorino and trade for Trumbo who I believe can play LF. Power RH.

brian

October 10th, 2012
8:48 pm

Great blog DOB as always. DOB for GM

brian

October 10th, 2012
8:49 pm

I wouldn’t want Span from the Twins. Pagan would be the best fit for the Braves

nolie

October 10th, 2012
8:49 pm

Trumbo is WAY overrated. fell apart the second half too

BFChris28

October 10th, 2012
8:51 pm

ChattTownBrian

I like the idea of Victorino and Trumbo.

Victorino CF
Prado 3B
Heyward RF
Freeman 1B
Trumbo LF
McCann C
Uggla 2B
Simmons SS

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
8:52 pm

I believe Cody Ross played over his head this past season and whoever signs him in the offseason is gonna get burned. He might still be a solid addition but in terms of dollars I bet he doesn’t meet expectations. I’m willing to bet he get’s a 3 year deal around 30-35 million…

ChattTownBrian

October 10th, 2012
8:52 pm

I think my wife said Angel Pagan is an ironic first and last name.

Dawgdad (The Original)

October 10th, 2012
8:55 pm

Pagan would be a great option, but I don’t know why you think SF is going to let him get away. He has been a star for them. We are one year too late to move on Pagan. Maybe we should have ID him and got him in the Franceour trade instead of Ryan Church.

ChattTownBrian

October 10th, 2012
8:56 pm

I’ll take your word for it, nolie. I was just scanning over RH OF with pop on my PS3, I mean, the baseball stat sheet I have and Trumbo’s numbers look solid at first glance. But hey, you know more than I because you actually analyze instead of knee jerk.

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
8:57 pm

I think I rather have Denard Span instead of Angel Pagan. Span is a much better defender and overall hitter. He’s had some injury problems but still in 129 games he doubled 38 times…. Has 20-25 SB speed and is a viable lead off option. There may be concerns about him playing away from Minny but I’d be willing to role the dice.

I like Pagan cause he’s a Switch hitter and is basically solid across the board. But he isn’t great at anything.

Both player fit budget wise, but Span is a trade target while Pagan is a free agent.

Dan

October 10th, 2012
8:57 pm

I say we get both Uptons!

nolie

October 10th, 2012
8:59 pm

dang Brian and here I was looking for an argument……
actually I have no idea what happened to Trumbo but he really took a nosedive in the second half. Some here last winter claimed his as the second coming. maybe not….

EasyE

October 10th, 2012
9:00 pm

I know absolutely nothing about baseball with the lone exception of hitting a home run.

However, the Sons of Anarchy (on FX) is the absolutely best show on TV bar none. Well SOA and Game of Thrones..

Bama Braves

October 10th, 2012
9:01 pm

I Say Both Uptons to.

BosnianBaller

October 10th, 2012
9:02 pm

I agree with Kevin post. Getting Span would be ideal replacement for Bourn

David O'Brien

October 10th, 2012
9:02 pm

DOB, I’ve read that Swisher could be asking for a Werthian type contract. I would love the Swisher/Pagan combo, but if he wants $15M or more (much less than Werth), I don’t see how Braves could have Swisher & a name CF, as even Pagan could reasonably make in the $7-9M range. — AA

That’s why I said Willingham is atop my preferred list. I’d part with the prospect to get him and his very reasonable contract for next two years, then you’ve got enough to add Pagan or another CF and also sign Prado and Heyward to long-term deals (in case you need to go a little higher on Heyward in first year of deal than you might have in arbitration, etc).

ChattTownBrian

October 10th, 2012
9:02 pm

Damn I’ve been depressed lately. Braves always get kicked out of the playoffs early, so it isn’t all that for a reason. Ever just get that feeling inside and can’t seem to shake it?

David O'Brien

October 10th, 2012
9:03 pm

Good stuff DOB. Although I’d rather have Teheran than Hanson, if possible. — Borno

Yes, but Twins aren’t going to have any interest in Hanson, for same reason you and others would like to get rid of him.

nolie

October 10th, 2012
9:03 pm

not sure why you think Span is a better hitter, he is a 104 OPS+ and Pagan a 106. basically equal, Span is definitely a better defender though. That away stat for Span worries me a bit, but I see no real reason for it so it might be nothing

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
9:04 pm

EasyE

Breaking Bad to me is the best show I’ve ever seen and I’m sad its ending soon. The Walking Dead is up there too. I plan on eventually watching Son’s of Anarchy on netflix soon tho.

Efrim

October 10th, 2012
9:05 pm

Tough to find the downside of bringing in Willingham unless you’re concerned about his age and price in prospects. His production and consistency can’t really be knocked in any way.

I probably wouldn’t trade Teheran or Graham for him, but I’d trade Delgado + others. Probably not enough to get it done though.

It’s hard to say if Pagan, Ross and others are options until we hear about their desired price. I mean, if Pagan wants 4-5 years and 11-12 million a year, I can’t make a case for giving him that.

nolie

October 10th, 2012
9:06 pm

I’m starting to wonder if Delgado is not gonna end up the better pitcher

7n3

October 10th, 2012
9:07 pm

Who cares what the Braves do? They could go 162-0 with all-stars and choke in the postseason just like they have done every time this millennium. They are a garbage organization with garbage coaching, garbage management, and garbage players. Crew them.

Efrim

October 10th, 2012
9:08 pm

Braves are going to trade to fill one of these spots. I’d be all in for Chase Headley, but I see no real reason why the Padres(who already have a ton of minor league depth) would trade him away.

Wish Beltran was a free agent….this coming offseason. ;)

ChattTownBrian

October 10th, 2012
9:09 pm

Women can make you feel all sorts of stuff inside, so that could be it. This new chick with brown puppy dog eyes needs to leave my store. Not that I want her to, but …

phil

October 10th, 2012
9:09 pm

That was a great read, DOB….

Thing is, no matter who we acquire, they will immediately slump. Collapsing into Ugglaesque oblivion won’t be far behind the ink drying on the ole contract.

Sigh.

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
9:09 pm

nolie

Your right, both are very close with the bat. Span has the edge in OBP and walks more and strikeouts less, Pagan has the edge in power. Span is few years younger and could improve some. Toss up. Pick your poison lol

BRAVELESS

October 10th, 2012
9:10 pm

The Braves need to try and trade Uggla because $13 million is too much for a player that hits around .220 for at least have of the last two seasons. Even if we had to pick up have his salary it will still give us $6 million to pick up a very good ballplayer.

Chopp

October 10th, 2012
9:12 pm

RESIGN BOURN. Trade Hanson and Delgado get an Ace. RESIGN BOURN. Get Youuuukilis, leave Martin in Left. RESIGN BOURN.

Efrim

October 10th, 2012
9:12 pm

I’m starting to wonder if Delgado is not gonna end up the better pitcher

It could happen, but a lot of folks would be wrong. Delgado’s walk rates haven’t really gotten better. But he still gets more swing and misses than Teheran does – at least the last two years. Teheran needs to throw that slider more. That could be a real breakthrough. Braves sent that pitching guru down to Gwinnett to work on that delivery, and Wren had Delgado traded for 2 months of Dempster. I just have a strong feeling that if we’re going to get a bat, Delgado will be used for it.

phil

October 10th, 2012
9:13 pm

I won’t go as far as this 7n3 character, but i must agree that until we win in the postseason, it really doesn’t matter what we do.

It has been one choke after another for moving on towards a generation now. Maybe Chipper’s retirement will actually be a good thing where the choking is concerned. Something has to give eventually.

BRAVELESS

October 10th, 2012
9:13 pm

brian

October 10th, 2012
9:13 pm

Seems like the Twins, royals or whoever will want Teheran, but we will likely settle on Delgado – still a great get by any organization.

Royals and twins both need starting pitching in the worst way

brian

October 10th, 2012
9:14 pm

Well said Erfim

phil

October 10th, 2012
9:16 pm

Let Bourn go…..the quicker he cleans out his locker, the better.

I’m sick to death of the strikeouts and lack of hitting from the guy. His 8th inning whiff the other night on 2 fastballs right down Peachtree made me want to vomit. Goodbye, good riddance.

ChattTownBrian

October 10th, 2012
9:17 pm

Guess y’all would rather talk baseball than my feelings. Whatever. Bye.

brian

October 10th, 2012
9:18 pm

Trade candidates??

OF- willingham, span, Bourjos, trumbo, Alex Gordon, nick markakis

3B – Headley, e. Nunez (NYY)

Dum-Bass

October 10th, 2012
9:18 pm

I had a sneaky suspicion about something so did some checking. Sure enough it’s possible, and this will make some of you even “sicker”. You can actually field a team from ex-Braves now playing in the postseason. The only thing missing is a catcher, so maybe one of the two first basemen could be converted. (or maybe there is a catcher I don’t know about). Anyway here tis:
Infante-2B
Laroche or Texeira-1B
Furcal-SS(he’s injured but on the team)
Betemit or DeRosa-3B
Blanco, McLouth, and Jones(Andrew)-OFs
Wainwright and Lowe-Starting Pitchers
Gonzalez-Reliever
That’s 12 players who are no longer Braves and now on playoff teams.
Anyone know of an X-Braves catcher on one of the teams still in it that I may have missed?

nolie

October 10th, 2012
9:19 pm

poor phil, life is soooo tuff for a sensitive Braves fan…..

Efrim

October 10th, 2012
9:19 pm

I don’t want to trade Delgado. Much rather trade Gilmartin, to be honest. But Frank loves his LHP’s. ;)

HooRah

October 10th, 2012
9:21 pm

so what? are you claiming that they are the reason their teams are in the post season? not hardly

nolie

October 10th, 2012
9:22 pm

I agree about trading Gilmartin even if that makes me a traitor to FSU….

Bob the Blogger

October 10th, 2012
9:23 pm

Rather than pencil Prado in at 3rd, I would keep it open so that the Braves have the option of getting a third baseman or left fielder, which ever works best based on the player and his contract. However it works out, the Braves absolutely need to add one big bat.

I agree with not pursuing Bourn too much. His second have average and total season strikeouts are red flags, and his contract will taking him into his mid thirties, when most players are losing a step.

nolie

October 10th, 2012
9:25 pm

Rather than pencil Prado in at 3rd, I would keep it open so that the Braves have the option of getting a third baseman or left fielder, which ever works best based on the player and his contract. …BtheB

that is probably the approach Frank will take

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
9:26 pm

Randall Delgado, Sean Gilmartin, and Navery Moore

for

Josh Willingham and Denard Span

Too much? Not enough?

Efrim

October 10th, 2012
9:27 pm

Could definitely see Zeke Spruill getting dealt this offseason. I mean, they will want to not trade too much depth from Triple-A. But if they actually do keep Hanson, I certainly don’t see Teheran, Delgado, Gilmartin, Spruill and Graham at Triple-A. I mean, that’s better than the Twins major league rotation……

nolie

October 10th, 2012
9:28 pm

McLouth might actually be the reason the Os got in, but it makes no difference to us, if they had re-signed Nate 98% of the blog would have imploded, probably including dum bass

HooRah

October 10th, 2012
9:29 pm

Dum Bass is Lou I think

nolie

October 10th, 2012
9:30 pm

that would be one helluva AAA rotation, huh?

TheOnlyBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
9:33 pm

You are correct nolie, his OPS is good, but I’d like him to have a better avg. I mean, we want a guy that hits lefties, right? Or just someone who hits them far when he actually connects.

Cody Ross had a better line vs. lefties last season than Willingham, and is better for his career. I’d rather pay him 9-11 mil than trade one of our prized prospects for Willingham. Also, Ross is younger.

___@____
@mlbbowman So are you saying if BMac has to have surgery, the Braves might not exercise his option

Mark Bowman ‏@mlbbowman
@___ no, but if he is going to miss a significant part of the season, they will not exercise it.

I thought insurance would cover that, no?

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
9:34 pm

As much as I’d like to see Hanson have another shot to bounce back to his old form, I think there’s a good chance that it could backfire and something similar to Jurrjens happens. Pass on trade offers and then get zero production leading to a non-tender. But maybe Hanson can atleast maintain what he is right now and be a solid #4/5 type.

phil

October 10th, 2012
9:34 pm

Nah, life is great….

It’s the Braves and you head in the sand fellas that worry me.

Efrim

October 10th, 2012
9:34 pm

Too much? Not enough?

If they trade both players, it’ll be in seperate deals. You can make a case that it’s just right for Willingham.

gb

October 10th, 2012
9:35 pm

dob
whats your thoughts on juan francisco?

TheOnlyBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
9:35 pm

Tough to find the downside of bringing in Willingham unless you’re concerned about his age and price in prospects. His production and consistency can’t really be knocked in any way.

Eh. He has a good SLG, but his avg. has been poor over the last 2 years. But, yes, the main issue for me is price. If we can get him for a mid prospect or 2 (like Spruill and Salcedo), all for it. That won’t happen though. They will want one of our top 4 arms. I say no.

jed

October 10th, 2012
9:36 pm

very nice breakdown & plan, DOB. i absolutely agree with letting bourne go, and i like pagan as well. willingham would be a good addition, but my only question is Can we live with uggla at 2b again? his D is bad and seems to be getting worse. if willingham trade didnt work, i’d strongly consider playing prado at 2b, moving uggla to LF and trading for a 3b w/pop.

BRAVESFAN

October 10th, 2012
9:36 pm

phil

October 10th, 2012
9:36 pm

jeffrey d

October 10th, 2012
9:38 pm

Was the alternate title to this blog “That’s what she said?”

phil

October 10th, 2012
9:39 pm

Move Uggla to Siberia if that’s what it takes to be rid of his awful self……

VaBravesFan

October 10th, 2012
9:41 pm

Efrim

But those 3 would be quite a bit for a 34 year old wouldn’t ya think? Being realistic we’d have to expect Willingham’s numbers to dip a little. Or possibly have a season like he had in Oakland.

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