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

Sonny Clusters

October 3rd, 2009
3:27 pm

We was thinking the same thing. Giving away all those players didn’t make a lot of sense. Then, they stuck with some players that wasn’t doing much and kept letting them make the same mistakes again and again. When we was playing ball Coach just played the players that wanted to win and played like they wanted to win. Coach never hollered, “easy” when we was running the bases and Coach never picked his nose.

Sonny Clusters

October 3rd, 2009
3:27 pm

Whoa! We was first!


October 3rd, 2009
3:52 pm

The pitching didn’t cost the Braves this year, the offense did. This article makes no sense. Marquis has been no better than Derek Lowe recently.


October 3rd, 2009
3:59 pm

KK has fallen out of favor? Really? For a fourth or fifth starter, he had a fine season.

I peg it as the Braves wanting to get a look at Hudson so they can make a somewhat informed decision about his option for 2010. And they certainly weren’t going to put Lowe in the bullpen for $15 million a year, even if it was only six weeks.

Stotts Era

October 3rd, 2009
4:22 pm

would we have made the playoffs in 2004 without JD Drew?

Knoxville bound

October 3rd, 2009
4:24 pm

Enter your comments here I don’t agree at all……they wouldn’t have won that year without Drew and Marquis was more frustrating than Francouer, ……and which of the players at Texas would have made a difference this year for the Braves? The pitchers may yet do that but they didn’t make the difference for Texas did they? The year turned out well for what they had to deal with and if they can upgrade the left field situation, replace the 2 relievers that should leave… year will be a lot of fun.

Country Boy

October 3rd, 2009
4:25 pm

Mr. Bisher I agree with your points on the bad trades but what do you think of Bobby’s inability to recognize the better players on his own team. I believe if Cox had not stubbornly continued to play Johnson and Shaefer early in the year – only to have Infante and Prado collect splinters and watch then we would be a playoff team..This season was lost on the field in Apr. and May.


October 3rd, 2009
4:28 pm

“a catcher with long-range value”

Furman, you might want to check the stats before you go and say something like above. So far Salty is a marginal major league player. In 84 games he has struck out 97 times and has an OPS of .661. He lost his starting job and really hasn’t been playing much. Seems to me that he will be a career backup. Also, keep in mind that the Braves have a pretty good catcher.

Regarding Andus, he may develop into a fine shortstop, but again, the Braves have a pretty good young shortstop. The only real loss from that trade is Feliz, but I will point out that he started out pitching lights out but after a few trips around the league it appears batters figured him out a little. Over his last 7 outings he pitched 8 innings with an ERA of 5.63. I’m not saying that he isn’t a terrific prospect, but lets wait at least for a full season before anointing him as the next great pitcher.

Can’t argue with you on the Cardinals trade, it was terrible. Although, Marquis had not distinguished himself with the Braves, 14-15 with an ERA in the mid 4’s.


October 3rd, 2009
4:41 pm

The Tex trade is the one that really hurt!


October 3rd, 2009
4:52 pm

Ummm….did you, like, watch a game this year?
The Braves pitching was fine this year, Furman…wasn’t a major problem like the offense was.

In closing: what are you talking about?

Ralph Garr

October 3rd, 2009
5:02 pm

Enter your comments here
After he compared Paul Johnson to some of the greatest coaches in football history, I have absolutely NO belief in any of Mr. Bisher’s blogs. He was always a great journalist but maybe it’s time to move on………….

Mark from LA

October 3rd, 2009
5:04 pm

If this were an essay, it would get an F. You’ve not proven your point at all, Bisher. Salty wouldn’t start over McCann. Andrus wouldn’t start over Escobar. They would have remained what they were at the time of the Texeria trade: Trade bait.

Furthermore, Marquis became a free agent three years ago. Your assertion is that had the Braves not kept him, he would have remained a Brave and become the threat the Braves had always hoped he had been. But, because they traded him, I believe we could safely assume that they would have let him walk after free agency. Instead, we got J.D. Drew for a year. And made the playoffs.

As for Wainwright, the only assumption you can make is that if he had been successful with the Braves, they wouldn’t have had to sign Lowe, Kawakami, or trade for Vasquez, thus freeing up salary for a power bat. But which power bat would you have signed? Who was available last winter that would have meant the playoffs for the Braves? Pat Burrell? Bobby Abreu? Adam Dunn?

Would we have held onto Salty and Andrus, only to trade them for Jason Bay last year?

You made a very poor argument. Consult your Optometrist, Bisher. Even your hindsight isn’t 20/20.


October 3rd, 2009
5:08 pm

Mr. Bisher, you have written some fine articles in the past. However, I’m wondering if it isn’t perhaps time for you to step aside so that a younger writer might have a chance.

It’s not realistic to think that the home team will “win” every trade. It’s interesting that you mentioned Marrero. Gosh…I wonder if Kansas City is happy with that trade. If I recall, the Braves received Matt Diaz. I’d say we did pretty well with that trade.

I wonder how Detroit feels about the trade they made that brought the Braves a pretty decent pitcher for Renteria. I wonder how the Chicago White Sox feel about the trade that brought another fairly decent pitcher to Atlanta. Even if Tyler Flowers develops into a thumper, which is questionable, we did pretty well for ourselves.

The reality is that you have to give up something to get something. Sometimes it works out for you…sometimes it doesn’t. What’s the saying? No guts…no glory.

It’s easy to sit back and offer a revisionist berating. But I think that it is an unrealistic thing to do…unless someone is desperate for a story to make at deadline.

Please come up with something better next time, Mr. Bisher. I do wish you well.


October 3rd, 2009
5:10 pm

Enter your comments here
Hey Furman: it’s college football game day…check your blog vs. football blogs…NOBODY CARES RIGHT NOW ABOUT THE BRAVES…questionable if anyone cares period…how pathetic did the stands look during that amazing last month run?! Baseball isn’t a sport…it’s truly “AMERICA’s PASS TIME.” It passes the time til football starts!


October 3rd, 2009
5:11 pm

The trades over the years have cost us greatly, but I personally think the slow starts that the Braves traditionally have really show up big this time of year – we traditionally have the best record after the all star break every single year – but the slow starts really put a lot of focus on needing those late season wins – we didn’t have winning streaks of any amount until August – too late for playoff caliber teams – maybe a little more consistency at the start of the season can get another pennant! Next year looks promising!


October 3rd, 2009
5:14 pm

Oh look, it’s another pointless article from Bisher. Yeah, I’d love to have Wainright, but pitching isn’t this teams problem Marquis isn’t very good, so nobody cares if he’s gone. And the Tex trade is no where near as big of a disaster as many like to portray it to be. Salty and Andrus would have never played for the Braves. McCann and Esco are both better players. Matt Harrison is a back end of the rotation guy and isn’t missed either. The only piece they will miss is Feliz, the kid looks great. So they gave up one useful guy for a year and a half of Tex. Come on Furman, you can do better.


October 3rd, 2009
5:35 pm

Trading Adam Wainwright and Jason Marquis for JD Drew for ONE FREAKING YEAR was the worst trade in Braves history. The Texiera trade is right up there with it. John Schuerholtz is the most overrated general manager in the history of professional sports. The guy came into a great situation. Bobby Cox has already drafted Chipper Jones, Steve Avery, Tom Glavine, and traded for John Smoltz. Schuerholtz also had Ted Turner’s large check book to use as well to sign guys like Maddux and thankfully Greg Maddux did not want to pitch in New York if so the Yankees would have gotten him. The Dave Justice and Marquis Grissom for Kenny Lofton was a stupid trade as well as was the Jermaine Dye for Keith Lockhardt deal that Schuerholtz made. I could go on and on but the guy is so overrated.


October 3rd, 2009
5:50 pm

scottbravesfan – I agree with you.

double d

October 3rd, 2009
6:09 pm

Also I think Frenchy for Church was a recent bad trade.


October 3rd, 2009
6:17 pm

Mark in LA, you get an A+.


October 3rd, 2009
6:19 pm

Dear Screw This Guy,
It wasn’t a great article, but you’re out of line.


October 3rd, 2009
6:43 pm

Enter your comments hereand those js trades scott mentioned were nlot even his worst think david cone for ed hearn in kc lol he ruined the braves his book should have been titled a blue print to disaster lol


October 3rd, 2009
6:55 pm

Screw This Guy…out of bounds. 2 stroke penalty…tee it up again.
When you reach seniority let’s hope your body of work leaves room for a bit of respect as you look upon it as a whole. (and don’t go making fun of that last word…lol)

Tired of reading classless remarks

October 3rd, 2009
7:28 pm

Some of you bozos don’t have as much class in your whole body as Furman Bisher does in his “nail clippings”. Calling the older Gentleman “names” reminds me of how classless these new generations are. No wonder the country is such bad shape.

Max Sizemore

October 3rd, 2009
7:29 pm

Mark in LA, excellent rebuttal. I believe Furman is just about 91 now. As a kid, I remember watching him with Jim Minter, the old coach (can’t think of his name), Ed Miles, and a couple of other sportswriters on Football Review every Sunday afternoon. I’ll be happy just to make it to 91.


October 3rd, 2009
7:30 pm

Losing 5 straight games when your in a situation where you had to win the last 6 games, If that isn’t choking, I don’t know what is.


October 3rd, 2009
7:45 pm

The group Little Texas reminded us “Try not to think about what might have been,” and yet we do it all the time in sports. You might nitpick any one player Mr. Bisher identified, but taken as a group, the ones we got were not nearly as valuable as the ones we gave away.

Ned Yost

October 3rd, 2009
7:54 pm

If I were still the 3rd base coach Matty would have scored & we’d have won the Wild Card. by the way

I still need a job!


October 3rd, 2009
7:57 pm

tired of reading classless remarks, “no wonder the country is in bad shape” well you need to do a little research yourself. how do you mean the country is in such bad shape? the economy? well lets see, there was a bad recession during the 80s, and wasnt there one in the 30s? what was that thing called?? the great depression or something like that. even countries all over the world are experiencing economic difficulties, even in europe, where the mighty euro is king. have you read about the problems ireland is having recently? are we in bad shape because of military decisions? what was that skermish that we were in in the 60s that got so many of our own people killed and had virtually no point? what else has the “young” people of this country done to hurt it? us “younger generations” might be classless, but dont you dare say that it is the reason that we are killing the country.

John A.

October 3rd, 2009
8:03 pm

Enter your comments here In the last week Chipper is the one that deserved to be benched….does anyone realize he didn’t get a hit in his last four (4) games? Thta nis extremely bad for someone getting the money he gets to (his words) play a game.

Gov Clinton Tyree

October 3rd, 2009
8:03 pm

Only one of the whole bunch we miss is Wainwright. And we got Tex, then Kotch, then LaRoche. We can sign LaRoche. LaRoche for a nice reliever and a very good fielding shortstop and some spare parts. Really wasn’t so bad.

Can’t win ‘em all, and the new GM has made some really, really nice deals. I’m bullish on the Braves in ‘10.

Sid Bream's Legs

October 3rd, 2009
8:08 pm

Who woke Bisher from his 4-month nap?
Are farm system stinks, right Bish? Except that we have the #1 prospect in all of baseball.
We didn’t make the postseason this year because of hitting, not pitching. Would any Braves fan trade any young pitcher in the game for Tommy Hanson right now? Of course not.
Wren took a lot of heat this year, but except for Kawakami, he was perfect.

Now back to your jello and shuffleboard.


October 3rd, 2009
8:10 pm

this team should be ashamed of itself.; pride in itself at all. lackluster offense against the worst team ever. it is as if this team no longer has any pride in itself and with that, who can excited about next year. besides, the year was lost early on with Cox’s continuing support of Schaefer…and Francouer. this is not a manager we need

Jack G.

October 3rd, 2009
8:25 pm

Bisher is just like Bobby Cox. He dosent know when to quit (Retire)

When its over, its over and keeping on keeping on Just enlarges the obvious.


October 3rd, 2009
8:26 pm

Those were bad deals but most every team makes them. How about trading Renteria for Jurrjens? Maybe we don’t do that deal if we had Wainright. who knows?


October 3rd, 2009
8:39 pm

Enter your comments here
Bobby’ll give us one more year of endless righty/lefty “play it safe,” moves and keep hoping for a homer. Chipper will embarass himself and won’t admit he can’t hit anything over 92 mph and can’t field anything not hit right at him. Lowe will continue to stink up the place. Kawakami, the dragon slayer, will gather dust and rust in the bullpen. Wren will roll the dice and bring the new kid up to play the outfield. And … another third place finish is in store for 2010.


October 3rd, 2009
8:43 pm

Elvis Andrus is nowhere near one of the best in the other league, Salty has yet to prove to be an everyday player, Harrison and Perez have shown flashes but none of those guys have made me say OMG, I can’t believe we let him get away. I would like to see the overall numbers from the firstbase position since the Tex deal since we essentially traded Tex for Kotch, and Kotch for LaRoche, I bet the production from them combined is incredible. As far as Wainright, yeah we let a good one get away but he could have very easily been Dan Meyer or better yet Marquis. I could care less about getting rid of Marquis as I promise this year is an exception, not the rule with him. J.D. had his best year with the Braves and was one of those guys where the hope was for that “home town discount”. You can’t hit a homerun if you don’t swing, I’m glad we went after both guys and I wish they both could have stayed and continued there success but it’s one of those things. I don’t understand the logic though, trading a couple guys who wouldn’t be starting for us (Andrus and Salty), plus a bunch of pitchers when we have had some of the best pitching in baseball this year…..just saying.


October 3rd, 2009
9:11 pm

I usually agree with you. You are way off on this one. Wainright would not have won 20 games with this offense, He pitched no better than Vazquez or Jurrgens. Marquis is a benefactor of run support. The people traded to Texas made very litle impact this year. Andrus may someday be an above average SS, but we already have Escobar. Ditto with Saltalamacchia, he was not going displace McCann. Harrion is a walking medical report and the kid who reportedly throws 100 mph is a flash in the pan. Get over it.

Ancient Mariner

October 3rd, 2009
9:33 pm

Furman, Furman. Why don’t you just retire? You are embarrassing yourself with this drivel.

Sonny Clusters

October 3rd, 2009
9:33 pm

We was in Parkview the other night Furman, and we was disappointed that the Braves started a losing streak.


October 3rd, 2009
9:34 pm

furman bisher is probably rolling over in his grave right now as he reads this crap.

the Truth...

October 3rd, 2009
9:36 pm

Ok smucky little mindless pseudo sports fans…you bash Furman because you think you know so much….

Furman is right on the trades being marginally productive….what the real impact is that the trades were major in what we gave up, for one year rentals…not for players with a contract for two or three years…RENTALS,


Don’t you folks understand? You trade the future for RENTALS? That is crazy and Furman knows it better than you folks ever will…..



Meanwhile...speaking of trades

October 3rd, 2009
9:43 pm

Speaking of trades best not made, how good do the Braves look now for not packaging Hanson in a trade for Jake Peavy?

Rico Suave

October 3rd, 2009
9:45 pm

“A stroke of glowing luck”
Hey Bisher, why dont you just do me a favor and drop dead!!!


October 3rd, 2009
9:57 pm

rico, you showed that you are a classless guy with that awful comment.

i would be real careful by going around and telling someone to drop dead!

thre is an old adage that says one reaps what one sows.


October 3rd, 2009
9:59 pm

The Braves are just in bad shape now they have good pitching but their offense isn’t going to get them over the top. I say during the offseason they need to address what the pitching rotation is going to look like next season, First off they shouldn’t re-sign Tim Hudson and try to Trade Kenshin Kawakami. I think they should try to sign Jermaine Dye and either Josh Willingham or Dan Uggla. Dye can play left field McCloth can play center and either Willingham or Uggla can play right field.


October 3rd, 2009
9:59 pm

If the Braves had KEPT Teixeira, they’d be heading to the World Series right now. Cheapskates!


October 3rd, 2009
10:21 pm

Blind in one eye and can’t see out the other. Retire O’vaunted Sage.


October 3rd, 2009
10:24 pm

Mr. Bisher have you even watched a game this season?

Honus Wagner Lives

October 3rd, 2009
10:26 pm

Has anyone seen Furman’s nurse?

His diaper needs changing.