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


October 6th, 2009
4:54 pm

KC is right, Johnson, Frenchy and Schaeffer….they stunk and Boobie Cox is to senile to have realized that. Please leave now Boobie…and take Don Waddel with you!!


October 6th, 2009
5:33 pm

The reason he mentioned the Drew trade was that we wouldn’t have needed to sign Lowe if we had Wainwright. We would have had a front of the rotation type of pitcher already with us. We could have used that 15 million this year that we spent on Lowe somewhere else. Now that’s not to say we wouldn’t have traded Wainwright later on because you almost always trade prospects for proven commodities. It’s a good thing that it is not always because I remember a lot of people clamoring for Wren to trade Hanson to get Peavy this past winter.


October 6th, 2009
5:58 pm

Good God, Booby Cox lost the post-season chance by continually pitching to Ryan Howard. How stupid do you have to be to lose FIVE games to ONE guy in 4 weeks?


October 6th, 2009
6:16 pm

As usual, Furman bisher is right and Frank Wr–en is Wr–ong.


October 6th, 2009
9:50 pm

Shush you old codger.. enough

Keith Conley

October 7th, 2009
12:32 am

I’m not an overly critical person, but this is the most pointless article I have ever seen. The only players that the Braves’ brass would like back would probably be Wainwright and Feliz. Marquis was in a great situation this year, and he pitched well early in the year, but he has been awful the last 2 months. There’s a reason he’s bounced around alot since he left Atlanta. I like Elvis Andrus, but Yunel is better. Salty may lose his job if he hasn’t already. The Braves took a shot on Teixeira, and even though the postseason wasn’t attained, it certainly wasn’t his fault. He hit the ball and he played unbelievable D. I’m glad that the franchise I support took a shot. It shows the fans that the organization will stand up when they believe the team is close. And the last point I make is simply that you contend if we had Wainwright and Marquis we would somehow be better. Check out the Braves pitching #s this year and rewrite this article. I would love to have Wainwright back, but I wouldn’t trade the Braves’ starting 5 for another in the NL.


October 7th, 2009
4:26 am

This season was lost when Brett Butler, Brook Jocoby and Rick Behenna was traded for Len Barker.


October 7th, 2009
7:01 am

Let’s be thankful for the trades that didn’t happen. The largest being the Peavy deal. Talk about gutting the farm. The Texas and St. Louis trades did alter how the 09 team could’ve looked. Salty would have been traded regardless of the year of team. Elvis will be the one missed. His attitude would be welcomed over Escobar’s pouting any day. The pitchers traded won’t amount to much. Felix is a flash. Anyone remember Valdez traded to SF a few years back? This trade wouldn’t be talked about as much if the Braves would have received equal value in return from the Angels, or any other team for that matter. I think I would have rather seen Tex walk and receive two first round picks. Having Adam on the staff replacing Lowe, no brainer. Let’s all hope moving forward talks such as the Peavy deal don’t surface. Don’t need anymore one year “wonders”. Especially Boras clients.
Wren please keep in mind Chipper is talking of retirement. There are no replacements on the farm!!!


October 7th, 2009
2:18 pm

You can add the Gonzo for LaRoche trade to this list. If we had not traded LaRoche the Scott Thorman Error would have not happened. Then the braves would not have had to sell the farm for Tex.

All of you hating on Furman need to go read the “farm system” article again. He stated that all these trades for one year wonders is what caused the system to dry up.

I hate to tell you folks something, but other than Freeman and Heyward, the farm system looks really bad, at least at AA.

The trades themselves were not so bad. It is the fact that know we have NOTHING for them. Tex walked, Drew walked, Wainright won 20 games for the Cards (Marquis needed to go), Gonzo was a disappointment, and we had to pay Lowe 16 mil for a 4.50 ERA and double didgit losses.

So on top of NEVER being able to move Lowe’s contract. The braves have no chips to trade (ie a Chipper replacement or a RH power bat). They had to trade the only other offensive catcher in the system (Tyler Flowers) for Javier Vasquez, who is the most likely to get dealt again. They had to sign KK and his 12 loses. (I have hope for him, guys from Japan do better in year 2 usually.)

There is no doubt the lack of talent to trade and/or money to spend hurt the braves this year. It also looks like it will hurt the club for years to come.


October 7th, 2009
3:03 pm

Bobby Bowden Cox was the main reason that cost us the season, as will he next season. Keeping him around for one more nostalgic year is a big mistake. 2011 can’t get here soon enough.

Mike Hogan

October 9th, 2009
11:58 am

The Braves have not won a playoff series since 2001 and haven’t even made the playoffs since 2005.Since 2006 their collective record is a losing one(321-327).This situation is the definition of mediocrity and the reason Atlanta is known nationally as LOSERSVILLE.We have one WORLD SERIES RING in 44 seasons.The moves that the Braves have made over the last few seasons have been half-hearted and obligatory.This franchise is clearly one that doesn’t have the desire or the ability to compete seriously on a winning level.One more point;tell me one other team in the MAJOR LEAGUES that has the same manager for the last eight years who has NOT won a playoff series.There isn’t one team that I can find.And that’s why Atlanta is known as LOSERSVILLE.(And we’ve got Cox signed through next year).No other MAJOR LEAGUE franchise would tolerate such complete sorriness.Only Atlanta.Stop going to the games and stop watching them.Maybe then they’ll do something to make us competitive….


October 9th, 2009
12:30 pm

Yeah, If we only had pitching, a decent catcher, and a shortstop. Oh wait….None of those are reasons we aren’t in the playoffs. We have great starting pitcher, an all star catcher and a really good shortstop. Those are not the reasons we didn’t make the playoffs. Oh, thanks for rubbing our noses in trades from YEARS ago

Kevrock/Smarty Jones

October 9th, 2009
12:51 pm

The Braves brass until Wren took charge…really has made only had two good trades and that was for McGriff & Neagle. Don’t forget us trading Jermaine Dye for Michael Tucker…bad trade…Of course Wainwright…we will pay for years on that….Marquis is a push…BUT Teixeira trade will haunt us yet again for years…NOW if we had of signed TEX and gave him a no trade clause…which I WOULD have made a exception for him…then we would be in the playoffs as we speak….With again that trade for TEX WE HAD to re-sign him….we didn’t and again we are out of the playoffs….I will have to say thus far Wren has made some solid trades and I didn’t agree with them at first…so with that said…that’s I am a blogger and not a scout or in the front office anywhere as a ‘Traveling Secretary to the GM’.


October 9th, 2009
1:00 pm

how does this fossil still have a job?


October 9th, 2009
9:57 pm

Also letting the fans run off Frenchie. He hit 15 pts. higher that Jones and less errors. Chip lead the league in errors at third this year. he’s a bum!

T'ville Dawg

October 13th, 2009
9:47 pm

That is a bullseye shot if I ever heard one. By the way I met you in the parking garage under the Omni in around 1990 or so. I was the idiot who said to you, hey you look older in person than in your column. I remember being being shocked at meeting someone I had admired for so many years, you see I’m 48 now.If you had not been there I may still be wandering around in the dark underneath the Omni. I guess maybe I never said thank you and I’m kinda doing that now, for so much over your career.


November 7th, 2009
8:26 am

Good on ya’ you old coot for realizing DIAZ’ true strength – his character. Every good team needs at least a handful of these types of players, and the BRAVES are lucky to have him in ATLANTA.

Big Sack Dawg

January 10th, 2010
8:35 pm