Two bad trades cost Braves this season

If you’re trying to place blame on when the Braves blew their shot at making the playoffs, it wasn’t when Matt Diaz was caught off base trying to score against the Florida Marlins. That would have made the score only 5-5, and the game could still have been won.

And it wasn’t when Frank Wren was slow to pull the trigger on John Smoltz, leaving him to hook up with the Red Sox. Nor when Tom Glavine was turned down, in essence making way for Tommy Hanson in the pitching rotation. Au contraire, a stroke of glowing luck.

No, it goes way back longer than that. (And with this, I promise never to bring it up again.) It was when the Braves traded Adam Wainwright — as if he wasn’t enough — and Jason Marquis to the Cardinals for J.D. Drew, the nomadic outfielder. (Eli Marrero, the mysterious Latin also came along, but he created more dilemma than offense.)

And, of course, more recently the disastrous deal that robbed the farm system of five high-grade prospects to Texas for Mark Teixeira, the temporary first baseman. Five, mind you, starting pitcher, a catcher with long-range value, a shortstop now among the finest in the other league, Elvis Andrus, and maybe best of them all, the relief pitcher named Neftali Feliz.

They patched some of the holes, like signing Garret Anderson, the expression-less outfielder, then had to turn around and undo the deal that sent Adam LaRoche to the Pirates, by way of the Red Sox. LaRoche had been traded away in exchange for Mike Gonzalez, another of those one-inning bullpen wonders.

There’s nothing like what-might-have-been. Some of the best deals in baseball are those that are never made. It is quite likely that after all those 14 seasons of ringing up those banners over the left-field fence, that the Braves brass was beginning to pant for a return to glory. Their scouts had brought in some glistening prospects, only to have them squandered in disastrous trades. Nothing worse than the one that sent a pitcher developed under their noses here in the state, in Brunswick, also a tough out at-bat — Wainwright, who hits as well as he pitches. A 20-game winner for years down the road. Marquis, winner of 15 games at Denver — after being passed around to the Cubs and Cardinals — wasn’t popular with the brass. But waste a 15-game winner because he’s quirky?

Under Wren’s care, some good deals were made, and some not so good. He invested heavily in Kenshin Kawakami, the good-natured Japanese, who has since fallen from grace — into the bullpen. Derek Lowe cost even more, and true, he found a way to win 15 times, but his earned-run average outweighed his value, by a bunch. The Braves invested $60 million in him over the long haul. Just how much of this they can afford into future seasons is yet to be seen.

But, you will have to conclude that one major reason Bobby Cox decided to stick around another season is that he must have felt it a shame to leave with a gold-nugget pitching staff on hand. So there.

As for Matt Diaz, he’s a good card to have in your hand. Not only was he the Braves’ leading hitter, but he has never made a move that  he didn’t make with the idea that it might win the game. Yep, he does have a kind of unscripted swing, but you can believe this — he’ll be back, and the Braves will win with him.

218 comments Add your comment

Bisher Drinking Game

October 3rd, 2009
10:28 pm

Once again Furman lets us all know he’s been around long enough to get to waste AJC resources with impunity. So easy to point to the stinker trades as the reason why the Braved faltered down the stretch, but it was their bats and not their pitching that hurt them. You constantly drone on about not keeping Wainright so your statement that pointing this out for the last time is likely a grand lie. It was a bad trade in hindsight but move on, man.

And for those keeping up with the Bisher (Crutch Devices) Drinking Game, remember to take a shot for his “Eli Marrero, the mysterious Latin . . .” and another for “Kenshin Kawakami, the good-natured Japanese (aren’t they all in your world, Furman? Well, the ones who aren’t inscrutable, right?) . . .”

Leave the Braves alone and go back to writing about how nobody runs the Winged-T anymore or how the set shot has disappeared from the NBA or how many named you cannot pronounce in the LPGA.

steve munge

October 3rd, 2009
10:46 pm

Enter your comments hereThis team was good enough to make the playoffs this season, major reason is the poor coaching staff and next season will be the same old Cox sitting in the dugout waiting for something to happen instead of doing something to try and make it happen, the only way we win and make the playoffs is if our guys do it on their own.

18 Wheels of Love

October 3rd, 2009
10:55 pm

Wow. I’ll never get those 3 minutes back.


October 3rd, 2009
11:01 pm

I agree with you on the 2 trades. You didn’t give the third reason the Braves didn’t make play offs=BOBBY COX! You can say what you wish but you can’t hide Bobby’s stupid moves and insanely loyal man crushes on JF,KJ, Schafer, A. Jones etc. Can’t wait till 2011 when his a@@ is gone. Damn we got another year of this BS to go.

Bisher: a journalist worth his salt

October 3rd, 2009
11:20 pm

Trading Salty still hurts.

I mean can you imagine the hit the Braves took on jersey sales? Those letters aren’t cheap, you know!


October 3rd, 2009
11:22 pm

Why is it necessary to describe Eli Marrero as a mysterious “Latin” and KK as a good natured “Japanese?” You didn’t mention that J.D. Drew is some “white guy” nomadic outfielder.

Da Mick

October 3rd, 2009
11:38 pm

Poor Jeff is just like the most realistic of us poor Braves fans — he’s spot on, as the Brits say. But all of the many different assorts of us here in the Braves nation apparently can’t all tell it like has been — it seems so similar to the political realities that our nation has suffered (don’t want to open that can of worms here). The Bobby Cox problem is sooo apparent to even the most casual observer, and really the biggest problem to the Braves organization. Never mind the wild card, I don’t think it’s overstating the reality that we could have realistically have won the East with some savy management over the first half of the season. This has all been hashed to death here before. Point is that the Atlanta media hasn’t the balls to get past the current reality of our venerated manager’s legacy. Once could say that this same ongoing boy’s club prejudice within the Brave organization has been the club’s greatest weaknesses over the course of the Bobby Cox era. And now hovers over the glaring ineptness of it’s manager for a period of several years in gratitude. Over stated, I’d say.

Chuck Uga

October 3rd, 2009
11:44 pm

Braves are done. They will not win the division nore make the playoffs next year. All fingers should be pointing to Wren and Schurholz just like this article suggests. These trades basically set the franchise back years. I hope Schurholz AND Wren retire with Cox. Adios.


October 3rd, 2009
11:55 pm

If we are going to point fingers, save one for Chipper Jones.

Tired of reading classless remarks

October 4th, 2009
12:29 am

“Winthrop09″, you assume I was talking about the economy, I’m talking about the loss of standards and morals in our society. Some people can’t even blog with any civility, I guess they think it’s o.k., being anonymous. Same way in the public, no respect for other people, even if there’s a little ol’ grandma standing near them, talking trash and swearing. Hopefully you won’t be in public with your wife or daughter when it happens to your familly, some guys or even girls swearing near you. Not an easy thing to have to explain to a young child what some ugly words might mean, if they were to ask. But then again, what do I know, I only went to war when my country called during the Vietnam War. Way back then, they called it a “draft”. Didn’t know then what I know now, just low life politicians playing with peoples lives. Hopefully you or your son won’t find out. I’m just saying, I wish there were more respect for one another or more pride.


October 4th, 2009
12:37 am

Enter your comments here

I totally agree with your assessment of the long term damage done by the Wainwright trade. Imagine him with Hanson and JJ for the next ten years and you’ve got a rotation on par with the one in the 90s. But Schuerholtz got so obsessed with the short term that he forgot the future. If he’ been willing to have an occasional rebuilding years then likely the Braves would have won more World Series titles in the last 20 years–certainly at least as many as the Marlins. Jason Schmidt would have been nice to have back too. When might Wainwright be a free agent? It would be wise to get him back home where he belongs.


October 4th, 2009
1:22 am

All the Braves need is a 3 and 4 hitter and they’ll be good to go.


October 4th, 2009
1:32 am

I have alway thought it was a waste of time to read Bisher. After reading this I remember why I felt that way. Maybe I will try again in 5 years or so.It’s kind of like hoping Obama will not lie the next time he talks , it’s not going to happen.


October 4th, 2009
1:32 am

Go out and get Jermaine Dye and Josh Willingham during the offseason Dye can play left field and Willingham can play right. This will give the braves some power bats that they lacked this year at those positions.


October 4th, 2009
1:38 am

Yea, and they lost this year because they let Albert Pujols drop to the 15th round.

Or when they drafted Joseph McBride instead of David Wright, and the next year when they picked up Jeff Francoeur even though Matt Cain was available.


October 4th, 2009
2:45 am

This article makes no sense what so ever. Jason Marquis was a very bad example hes a forth starter at best. Are you serious the Braves make more good trades than bad. Here are a few examples over the last few years. Edgar Renteria for Jair Jurjens and Gorkys Hernandez we get a future ace which he pretty much is already. Thomas Flowers and brent lillibridge for Javy Vasquez already a win for the braves well see how it plays out for the sox bug Vasquez has been an ace for the braves from the start. You named 2 bad trades and i can’t think of another one at the moment more good trades are Jose Ascino for infante and ohman, diaz trade was a great one, and also soriano and O’flarety are two more good trades but the braves usually make some of the best trades. Furman next time come up with something that actually makes sense you are very desperate to hate on the braves. Really Marquis? Man you have to laugh that one off.


October 4th, 2009
4:46 am

Furman you are so right. But it’s like revisiting the Hawks drafting Marvin Williams over Chris Paul, it will drive you crazy to think about what could have been.


October 4th, 2009
4:51 am

Fisher=epic failure

Retired on the Lake (formerly cityofdecatur)

October 4th, 2009
6:05 am

Dear Mr. Bisher, been reading your articles for many years, from one old coot to another don’t embarrass yourself by writing any more, please. Enjoyed your writings until about a year or two ago and now it’s like watching old uncle Ned drool at family gatherings, just painful.


October 4th, 2009
6:21 am

I’m sorry,

How do you have a job?


October 4th, 2009
6:38 am

Agree with you totally about Andrus and Feliz.
Who is/was Wainwright’s agent? Boras again?


October 4th, 2009
7:13 am

Bobby when it comes to the bullpen, Bobby when it comes to the offense-did someone say he was coming back next year-I guess we will have some more of the same, not a pretty picture and it doesn’t get me excited.


October 4th, 2009
7:50 am

For me, the good of the season has been erased by a 5 (maybe 6 game) losing streak to close the season. The Braves have played erratic all year and here we go again. They need to dump D-Lo, Kama-whatever, and get some hitting. The facts are that pitching does NOT win penants anymore. Look at the Philllies…….OK pitching with great hitting. We have really good pitching, but need the monster home hitter now who doesnt slump every 2 weeks like this bunch.


October 4th, 2009
7:58 am

Winthrop09….your last sentence in your rebuttal was a classic ! Not only did you show your ignorance…it proved “tired of classless remarks” point !…..”us younger generations may be classless but….!!!
Thanks for the chuckle so early this morning…


October 4th, 2009
8:18 am

Bischer, late to the party on this topic. Many columnist have already made this point over and over again for the past three years. So, did it take you this long to come to a realization others and fans have already reached, or are you just filling your allotted amount of inches to pull a paycheck?


October 4th, 2009
8:35 am

Guys, guys, guys…you’re missing the point. It wasn’t those trades that doomed the Braves in 2009. You gotta all the way back to the 80’s when we traded Brett Butler for Len Barker…now that’s why we didn’t win in 09.


October 4th, 2009
8:36 am

Enter your comments here
I agree with Country Boy. Bobby Cox stuck with players who weren’t performing for too long. Where would the Braves be if Infante and Prado had been inserted into the lineup , say after 20 games of the season. Twenty games should be enough time to prove you are a starter. Also, why didn’t Bobby drop Chipper down in the batting order when it was clear he was not hitting? We may be in for more of the same next season.


October 4th, 2009
8:47 am

The Braves are finishing the season, as they have played almost all of the season. Chipper, since late June, has been positively terrible. No offensive help, and it seems every ball that he boots, leads to runs, that cost a ballgame. We have one or two decent hitters, and NO “money” hitters (Yunel, perhaps)…those guys that get the BIG hit in the clutch. We have wasted yet another great pitching performance by JJ. Lowe is as close to worthless as one can get, at 15 mil a year. He is a 6th starter on his best day. KK is a better than Lowe. Stick a fork in Derek Lowe. He, Chipper, and Bobby Bozo (the leader of the clowns) should retire NOW. If this team had even MEDIOCRE hitting they would have won 100 games. Manny Acosta…96 MPH of loser. That’s all he’ll ever be as a pitcher. No command. None. Consistent only as a chocker… It’s hard to watch the last 5 games, after a great run of 15-2, BUT, the last 5 games are much more true to form for this group of batters box non-producers, than the 15-2 run. Chipper is telling us how the fans can be encouraged…that the Braves can compete next year…then he does an 0 for 5 games…ya, he’s one to listen to…he’ll lead the club…


October 4th, 2009
9:01 am

They should have brought Hanson up to start the season in the bigs this year and should have at least brought Heyward up after the all star break….That would have done the job. Instead we had wasted starts by Jo Jo and Goricki as a fill in outfielder down the strectch. Thats the difference.

Jake Pollard

October 4th, 2009
9:15 am

Enter your comments here It all started when the Braves and John (I can do no wrong) Schuerholz traded away David Justice and later Jermine Dye and received nothing in return. It’s gone downhill ever since.

Jeff R

October 4th, 2009
9:19 am

This line that the Braves wouldn’t have made the playoffs without Just the Dollars Drew in 2004 is sheer nonsense. The team’s offense was loaded that year. What the Braves needed was a couple of seasoned, successful pitchers.

The Wainwright and Tex trades were possibly the worst ever made by JS before he was bumped upstairs. But, I think Wren learned from those mistakes.

In hindsight, Lowe’s not worth a $60 million deal – but that’s hindsight. Last winter, he got what the market would bear. The Braves paid happily. There’s some scuttlebutt that Wren may dangle Lowe this winter in exchange for a power bat. Not a bad idea, and better than dealing Vazquez.

And Lowe did win 15 games and give the Braves the 200 innings guy they wanted. Having said that, he’s easily the number 4 starter on the staff. Not worth the balance of his contract.

Michael Lunsford

October 4th, 2009
9:28 am

No…don’t agree Derek Lowe cost them…..waaaaayyyy over paid!!!!! and JOJO Reyes at the beginning!!!

Doc Dawg

October 4th, 2009
9:35 am

Mr. Bisher (and the rest of you morons), yes the farm was depleted but the Braves were exactly where they wanted to be, in the playoffs every year. I am sure the front office felt like they were one player away from another championship and made those trades to put them over the top. If you want to place blame, how about the failure of Mr. Cox to deliver when given those lineups?

Daybed Wagmoe

October 4th, 2009
9:51 am



October 4th, 2009
9:54 am

MR.BISHER,Earlier this summer on another blog I wrote the same exact thing!!! Anyone with a lick of baseball sense can see the folly of these two misguided trade’s and the aftermath that will be felt for sometime to come!!


October 4th, 2009
10:01 am

The Braves have made a lot of dumb trades over the years. But the Mark Teixeira trade was the dumbest. We gave up so much for so little return.

The Braves’ hopes for next year depend on keeping Adam LaRoche, praying that Chipper bounces back and finding two outfielders with some power. We already know that the best starting pitchers can’t win a Division title.

Keith B

October 4th, 2009
10:08 am

If you look at the Braves’ payroll, you soon understand that the folks who carried the team were making the least, for the most part, while the ’superstars’ were dead weight. Let’s start with Lowe. $15 million for an ERA near 4.7. Chipper Jones, hitting, what, .230 the last 2/3 of the year? $10 mill wasted there, but Bobby would rather die than move him from the number 3 spot. What was Bobby waiting on, for Chipper to turn it around the last two days of the season? Kawakami. Mediocre at best and $8.34 mil a year! Klley Johnson, $2.8 mil and can’t hit his way out of a wet paper sack! Soriano? Give me a break! 6 mill and way overrated! CHurch at, what, another $2.8 mill? How many games did he play to hit his 4 HRs this year? Norton? Good God, he didn’t hit .140 but yet Cox continued to utilize him, as if he, too, would break his ’slump’ at some time. Bobby COx and the Braves organization need to get real in assessing the club. And Buddy Carlisle with an ERA of around 8. is still in uniform? Come on Bobby, old age isn’t catching up with you that bad, is it? Move the players or retire even earlier? WREN, where you at? THINK !

Keith B

October 4th, 2009
10:14 am

Oh, and let’s not forget about Hudson. For $15 million, he should be THE Ace, along with Lowe.

Trade Hudson ($15 mil), Lowe ($15 mil), Chipper ($10 mil), Kawakami ($8.3 mil), Kelly Johnson ($2.8 mil), Soriano ($6.3 mil) and thow in Church ($2.8 mil), Norton, Carlyle – and you’d still have the nucleus left on the team that was productive this year. And what could we get for all that (half the team payroll?) Speed and power. Come on Atlanta, THINK !!! IMPROVE the team next year based upon what you saw this year. And if Bobby Cox keeps Chipper in the number 3 spot while hitting like the .230 hitter he was the last 2/3 the season, WREN needs to stick his foot up Cox’s tail and rotate it !!!


October 4th, 2009
10:22 am

That Drew trade was five years ago! Those pitchers are having great years this year, but that’s a long time to wait when they were supposed to be ready a long time ago. It’s hard to say putting up with their growing pains the last four years would have been better. And I agree with everyone who points out that none of those prospects in the Tex trade have been stars yet. Plus, the Braves also got a valuable left-handed arm for at least that year’s playoff push in that trade. The Braves don’t have the budget that a lot of these teams have, and have done a great job with what they do have.


October 4th, 2009
10:23 am

Furman, all of that is old news – but you are right onall points…primarily the Tex trade. All of that talent could be here now or could have been used to find us a somewhat permanent BAT now. If Wren does anything good at all in this offseeason, then Bobby might have a chance to reach the post season in his last season as a manager. Still, even with a team loaded with pitching and with the potental of new power bats, Bobby could come uo with a way to screw it up. I really do think he reached the end of his effectiveness a few years ago.

Nice summary of the deals that made very little sense.


October 4th, 2009
10:30 am

Keith – Keep either Lowe or Hudson (I prefer shipping Lowe somewhere) and we have four good to excellent starters for next year. But I do not agree with your assessment of Bobby keeping Chipper in the 3 hole. He had a bad year! Who would have expected it to last so long? He lead the league in hitting last year and has been a superior hitter his whole career – so, you keep him in the three hole and wait for him to get out of the slump – which never happened. But the facts supported that decision. Chipper is not a Kelly Johnson or Francoeur. He has proven for years that he can do it and do it well.

Keith B

October 4th, 2009
10:38 am

Bisher: That’s not what cost the Braves this year. What costs the Braves this year, is no different than what costs the Braves MOST years. Bobby Cox manages the first half the season like it’s still Spring Training. He leaves players who are non-productive (Choker, Lowe, etc) in the game, while leaving productive players on the bench. His loyalty to players overshadows his loyalty to the fans and his desire to win, which should come first at the professional level. I think back on the game where he left Moylan in the game to hit when runners were on base in the 7th inning. It was Moylan’s first careeer at bat. Yet, he pulled Moylan in the top of the 8th anyway. WTF was that for? Then, I am reminded of the game where Lowe was pitching and the other team had 6 hits off Lowe in one inning. Did Bobby pull Lowe then? No! The team got yet another hit that inning. Did Bobby pull Lowe then? No! It was only after the EIGHTH hit that Bobby finally pulled him. Cox TOO OFTEN doesn’t give the TEAM a chance to win. Tell me. What moron COULDN’T have won as many games as Cox did this year, with the talent on that team? If I was Prado or Infante, I’d be raising hell with Bobby Cox or demand a trade / free agency as SOON as I could. I guess we’ll have to suffer through another season of what if’s next year while Cox continues to let his .230 hitter bat in the number 3 spot.

Keith B

October 4th, 2009
10:49 am

VARoadRunner: I could see keeping Hudson as a Number 4 pitcher. Lowe definitely doesn’t belong. (And there’s talk of trading Vasquez? Unbelievable!) I guess my point on Chipper is this. You can’t manage the entire year like it’s spring training. If your Number 3 guy ISN”T producing, at some point in the year, you have to move him. Chipper’s success last year didn’t help the Braves this year. His power numbers have fallen off dramatically over the past few years, though he’s always been a very good hitter. NL batting title last year noted.

2010 Lineup

Infante – 2B
Prado – 3B
Diaz – OF
Escobar – SS
LaRoche – 1B
McCann – C
Anderson – OF (trade Church, Jones, Lowe, Johnson, Kawakami, Norton, Carlyle, Soriano, etc*)
McLouth – OF

JJ, Vasquez, Hanson, Hudson

* I know some are eligible for free agency, but this will clear up money for power and speed.


October 4th, 2009
10:50 am

Now Keith is showing ignorance. Chipper is not a 230 hitter – he is a lifetime 307 hitter who is hitting 263 this year. Granted, he had a bad year FOR CHIPPER JONES. The all time average batting average for MLB is 260 – 270 which would mean that Chipper had an average year, based on his peers. Again, I agree, he had a bad year for himself. Still Bobby Cox rightfully keeps him in the 3 hole.

Now go back and get in the line, kindergarten is now over and you can go home.

Bobby has made (IMHO) many errors in judgement over the past few years and I am one of the many that thinks he is long overdue for retirement, but not because he kept the best hitter on the team in the 3 hole.


October 4th, 2009
10:53 am

Bish, perhaps you forgot the trade that also brought Hudson here, Renteria here and then traded him away in which we got Jurrjens, Soriano, and also Fred McGriff….on never mind, those wouldn’t support your article.


October 4th, 2009
11:12 am

Mr. Bisher,

Your comments about Marrero and Kawakami (”the mysterious Latin and Kawakami as a good natured Japanese”) are inappropriate and seemingly out of context. It smell bad.

Marrero came from Cuba when he was a 9 years old, and don’t worry…they are legal workers (as well Infante, Soriano, Escobar, Prado, Suzuki,…………………………….. )

By the way, don’t blame the “bad trades” for the Braves failure!!!


October 4th, 2009
11:18 am

To the guy bashing the bashers, how long do you have to keep somebody before they aren’t considered rentals? In 157 games Tex hit 37 homers and 134 rbi’s with about a .290 average, in 130 games KC hit about .260, with 8 homers and 61 rbi’s, and in 56 games LaRoche has hit 12 homers and 40 rbi’s with a .330 avg. That works out to just over 2 years 343 games, 57 homers (about 26 a year) and 235 rbi’s ( about 100 a year) and about a .280-.290 avg. Not to mention the fact that we can resign Laroche and if he opts not to come back, we still get draft pick compensation for him. It doesn’t look to stupid now considering that over the past three seasons, two of the years we were in the playoff chase until the end and if it weren’t for a plethra of injuries to our starting pitching we would have been in it all three years. Remember, we had Julio Franco and Scott Thorman playing first base for us! Of course that deal was the right deal to make then and still is now!


October 4th, 2009
11:22 am

The Braves should have never gotten rid of Smoltz or Glavine! If they had paid them the big money they wanted, those two pitchers would have produced enough wins to get the division or a wild card spot. The braves blew it again!

Keeping It Real

October 4th, 2009
11:52 am

I usually do not agree with Bisher. In this case I do. None of the players received in both trades are in the Braves orginization. Most if not all of the players that the Braves gave up are helping other teams. The Braves have nothing to show except a boring team with no athleticism. They will be no better next year unless they get rid of some of the dead weight they have on the team. This team is not good as has been demonstrated in the recent five game loss streak. A good team would play better to show that they belong in the top elite. This team cannot even beat the worst team in baseball.

The only major Newspaper with only a single Black Sports Columnist

October 4th, 2009
12:20 pm

Mr. Bisher,
Thank you for the sentiment and time served, but your statistically flawed column is an example of why Atlanta is the only major city you could continue to write in!

JJ was stolen from Detroit, as was Vasquez from the Whitesox!

Jason Marquis was traded 3 or 4 times after we traded him!

We cannot lament every trade that works out or doesn’t, especially when the principals are mediocre at best (save Wainwright)!

AJC can you assign an Intern with actual Internet access to develop non Kentucky Derby story ideas for Mr. Bisher?

And suprise surprise who is the hero in the end? Not the Pitching MVP (JJ or Javy), not the best everyday player (Escobar)…. no the 5th outfielder (who I love by the way)!!!!

I can hear you now Whistling Dixie….wondering why no one reads this rag!