Audience participation time! Rate Braves’ offseason moves!

This was where we left the Braves. Two of these guys play elsewhere now. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This was where we left it. Two of these guys play elsewhere now. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. Those words make some folks get all misty-eyed, but I have to confess they leave me unmoved. Probably because I hate watching teams practice in any sport. Give me real games!

But I digress.

The offseason is almost officially over. The Braves made some moves, as you know. (Say this for Frank Wren: He’s a movin’ man.) Here’s what I think of this club as currently configured, but I’d like a little audience participation, too. Tell me which transactions you liked, and which you didn’t. Unless you happened loved them all, which I guess would make you Frank Wren.

You’ll note that Johnny Damon’s name is not included below. Speculation is rampant that he’ll sign with either the Tigers or the White Sox, though speculation has been known to be wrong. He still might land here, I guess, but I’d be surprised. Though I’m often surprised.

And I didn’t include the Braves’ cutting of Ryan Church or Kelly Johnson because frankly I can’t imagine anyone disagreeing with those moves. But I am including everyone’s favorite pinch-hitter in our mix.

So here it is, our veritable Murderer’s Row of polling. You can vote once in each, and I encourage you to do so. And I thank you in advance.

Signing closer Billy Wagner was:

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Signing set-up man Takashi Saito was:

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Trading closer Rafael Soriano was:

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Trading pitcher Javier Vazquez was:

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Signing Troy Glaus to play first base was:

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Signing utility man Eric Hinske was:

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Not re-signing Mike Gonzalez was:

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Not re-signing Adam LaRoche was:

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Not re-signing Greg Norton was:

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221 comments Add your comment

mmgtfan

February 18th, 2010
1:01 am

mmgtfan

February 18th, 2010
1:01 am

im on a roll!!

Mark Bradley

February 18th, 2010
1:02 am

An epic roll, mmgtfan. A hat trick! Kudos thrice over.

Andre

February 18th, 2010
1:06 am

LOL @ EPIC FAIL!!

Reid Adair

February 18th, 2010
1:07 am

I gave Frank Wren a “so-so” for signing Troy Glaus. All of the other moves were ranked the lowest option possible.

mmgtfan

February 18th, 2010
1:08 am

Im kinda surprised on the split on Greg Norton

Kelly Johnson Fan Club

February 18th, 2010
1:09 am

Signing closer Billy Wagner was: A great move.
Signing set-up man Takashi Saito was: A lousy move.
Trading closer Rafael Soriano was: A so-so move.
Trading pitcher Javier Vazquez was: A so-so move.
Signing Troy Glaus to play first base was: A so-so move.
Signing utility man Eric Hinske was: A so-so move.
Not re-signing Mike Gonzalez was: Wise.
Not re-signing Adam LaRoche was: Wise.
Not re-signing Greg Norton was: Greatest move ever.

Tom

February 18th, 2010
1:11 am

I dont think any of the moves were lousy. a few so-so moves that could prove to be worthwhile. I think Wagner will have the best closer year of any Brave that I can remember….yea, not saying much I know!

Tom

February 18th, 2010
1:13 am

I’m with Kelly Johnson Fan Club for the most part..I just think Glaus and Hinske have the chance to be good moves. but could be real bad if Glaus is gimpy. Remember, injury prone guys(see JD Drew) tend to have their healthy year(s) in ATL!

Bobby Hill

February 18th, 2010
1:31 am

The real tragedy in the off season was failing to trade Lowe. Which led to Vazquez being traded. Trading Vazquez didn’t free up as much cash, as trading Lowe would have, and taking on Melky’s salary didn’t help. The end result being that Wren didn’t have enough money left in his pockets to acquire the big outfield bat the team has needed since Andruw’s career jumped the tracks.

Of course this whole mess could have been avoided if Wren hadn’t over bought on pitching a year ago. He’ll be paying the price for that decision for three more years.

uga-brave

February 18th, 2010
1:40 am

this season hinges on nate, billy wagner, and troy glauss.

if that trio dials it up they have a chance.

hudson has to take it to another level. he needs to be what he was in oakland.

uga-brave

February 18th, 2010
1:43 am

gotta agree with bobby hill,

there is a chance the lowe contract will be heavy. face the facts, his whip in the second half of the season was scary.

A.J.

February 18th, 2010
1:48 am

I know Greg Norton was terrible last year, we should cut the guy a break. When he first came here from Seattle in 08 he was really good. He does not deserve the flack that he has gotten. Anyone remember Chris Woodward???

Mike A

February 18th, 2010
1:49 am

Bet Kelly Johnson puts up better numbers than Melky Cabrera next year.

Bob in SF

February 18th, 2010
1:56 am

Mostly so-so. The Vazquez trade has potential (the dirtiest word in sports) to be Alexander-Smoltz-ian in scope if Arodys Vizcaino blossoms into what some scouts think he can be. The Braves would have potentially a very young and cheap power trio at the top of the rotation with him Hanson and Jurriens. Wags and Saito know how to pitch but can they physically hold up at this stage in their career? They will get lots of work due to a probably anemic Braves offense and a manager notorious for picking 3-4 guys in his bullpen to wear out like rented mules. Glaus could be an out-DP machine as a hitter when he actually can dress out and who knows how much he will butcher 1B defensively, a much harder position to play than most people think. The Braves will need a come back year from McClouth and a ROY campaign from young Mr.Heyward to have any shot at making hay in the division much less competing in the playoffs.

Another Mark

February 18th, 2010
1:57 am

They royally screwed up by trading Vazquez and letting LaRoche roll. Glaus will get hurt- take it to the bank. Saito and Wagner are also very, very risky for injuries. Cabrera is garbage, and the Yankees are laughing all the way on that one. Yeah, we got a few prospects from them that may turn out nicely, but I thought we were trying to win this year? Vazquez/LaRoche/Soriano >>> Saito/Wagner/Cabrera/Glaus

Another Mark

February 18th, 2010
1:59 am

They got their feelings hurt that nobody wanted the Lowe or Kawakami bait. Well tough luck. You throw Kawakami into the pen despite his salary and keep Vazquez AND Hudson both.

Innocent Bystander

February 18th, 2010
2:16 am

How ’bout “Not Resigning Kelly Johnson was…” ???

uga-brave

February 18th, 2010
2:26 am

not resigning kelly johnson, the guy crapped the blue bean in every pressure situation. getting rid of him and the glory boy was the best thing wren did.

speaking of francoeur, he still has not met a microphone or a p.r. situation he does not like. the dude is setting him up for a impending diaster. jeff, step away from media.

Robert

February 18th, 2010
3:11 am

Glaus was a reasonably priced gamble. Overall he is a poor hitter but the one thing he does bring to the table is power, which is a commodity the Braves were lacking. He is a good fit for the Braves in the sense that he is not a player you try to make finesse moves with. You hand him a bat and tell him to swing hard until he hits one far or misses three times. Great player for Bobby Cox. About the only way to mismanage him would be to bat him in the upper third of the lineup or to ask him to steal bases

Melky Cabrera – was not the focal point of the move that brought him here. He is a bit part, an adequate ballplayer but not a game-changer in any way

Adam LaRoche – At his peak, Glaus was better, but right now LaRoche is the better player. Then again, Glaus is cheaper

Javy Vasquez – had a career year. Sell high was the right move, and getting a true blue chip prospect for him wasnt a bad move. Opinions will differ of course as to how good or truly blue chip any prospect is. Vizcaino? Very raw. Big potential sure. Personally I wouldve liked to see them target a more finished product but philosophically you cant really condemn this move

Eric Hinske – Career adjusted OPS of 100. Slugs a little, used to could run a little, can play the corners or even of in a pinch. If there’s such a thing as a generic ballplayer, this is him.

Greg Norton – addition by subtraction

The bullpen moves – To my way of thinking, it just doesnt matter much who exactly the relievers are – whoever they are they are going to be abused and misused by Bobby Cox

Bottom line – Net result was took an asset we had in abundance (a starter) and converted it into a supporting actor and a prospect while also changing the names of some of the rest of the supporting cast.

Will Hudson be anywhere near his peak form? Is Chipper finally in his twilight or does he have time left as a big time run producer? Is Heyward ready to not only make the transition to the bigs but to be a significant contributor? Can McCann continue to be an everyday catcher and a big offensive cog as well for another year? These are the questions that will decide our fate this year

Of the moves they made, the only one that will really affect the team was not firing Cox – and that effect will be negative, just as it has been for the last twenty years

Robert

February 18th, 2010
3:20 am

“Trading Vazquez didn’t free up as much cash, as trading Lowe would have,”

A trade requires two willing participants. Trust me, if they couldve found someone to take Lowe, they would have.

I can see this phone conversation

Frank Wren – Hey, you guys have any interest in Lowe?
29 other GM’s (one by one) – SURE! You pay 80 percent of his salary and we can talk. We’ll offer a second level prospect or a utility guy

Frank Wren – We’ll throw in Cox
29 other GM’s – No thank you
Frank Wren – Look, we’ll pay ALL of Lowe’s salary.
29 other GM’s – Nah
Wren – We’ll pay Cox’s salary too
29 other GM’s – What? Cant hear you. I think we have a bad connection
Wren – We’ll throw in a bag of balls, some used condoms, and an ajc sportswriter. Guy’s name is OBrien
29 other GM’s – click

Robert

February 18th, 2010
3:39 am

Oh here’s some thoughts

1) Anyone still think we pulled one over on the Mets with that Frenchy trade?

Ryan Church for the Braves – .260 with 2HR and 18rbi in 126 at-bats with the Braves

Frenchy – 10HR 41 rbi and .311 in 289 at-bats for the Mets

Which would be bad enough. But let’s make it worse by doing some analysis on Franceour

Since 2006, Frenchy’s adjusted OPS’s in Atlanta were 87, 102, 72, and 68. His batting average for 2006-09 with the Braves – .266

What happened? Sure seems like a guy who had the ability all along, but was misused. Jerry Manuel got performance out of him – performance he had once had (2005) but had lost after exposure to Cox

Robert

February 18th, 2010
3:46 am

Here’s some interesting stuff – ZiPS projections for the Braves for 2010

Chipper – 115 games, 400 at bats 15 hr, 58 rbi .295
McCann – 144/511/23/95/.288
McClouth 130/452/19/71/.268
Diaz 113/322/10/43/.307
Glaus 91/313/14/60/.252
Hinske 105/257/10/36/.237
Heyward 119/448/12/53/.275

Pitchers

Hanson 172.1 IP 14-7, 3.19 ERA
Jurrjens 208 16-9 3.46
Hudson 112 8-5 3.94

all figures from http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/oracle/discussion/2010_zips_projections_atlanta_braves/

Robert

February 18th, 2010
3:48 am

Also from the above referenced link

“As of now, the Braves are my personal darkhorse pick in the NL. The infield should be solid, if unspectacular and while the outfield has been much criticized, there are enough bodies out there to patch an outfield good enough to keep from balancing out the strengths of the team. Jason Heyward forcing his way onto the team as soon as possible would allow a Hinske/Diaz platoon and let Cabrera fill in the remainder of outfield at-bats, a task he’s qualified for.
Now, the team’s a darkhorse for a reason as the Braves seriously contending does require a little luck with injuries because the positions where the team is most susceptible to boo-boos. Glaus missed almost the entire season with shoulder injuries and Jones is always an injury risk, but the team has very poor upper-minors depth at both positions. The rotation, if the projected 1-5 plays, is very strong and Hanson/Jar-Jar could be the new Smoltz/Glavine, but the team’s 6-10 options on the mound aren’t the best and Tim Hudson is still coming off major surgery. “

Kelly Johnson Fan Club

February 18th, 2010
3:51 am

Innocent Bystander (February 18th, 2010 2:16 am EST): How ’bout “Not Resigning Kelly Johnson was…” ???

Lousy.

Robert

February 18th, 2010
3:57 am

“The 2009 Atlanta Braves will always be remembered as a team that was built on a strong foundation of starting pitching and destroyed with a bulldozer driven by manager Bobby Cox.”

Not my assessment, but I couldnt have have said it better

Conyers Braves Fan

February 18th, 2010
4:52 am

Mark: I voted most all of the moves as lousy. This does not mean I think the Braves management made lousy decisions in all cases. I thinks the bad moves were mostly made because of lack of $$$ available to work with. I would say Wren did as much as he could do in most cases given the $$$ constraints. I think the Braves will be lucky to finish as good as they did in 2009…10 games
over .500.

MitchC

February 18th, 2010
5:02 am

Mark, the three worst things the team did this offseason were to trade Vazquez, not trade Lowe, and the closer situation. We should have kept at least one of the former closers, and not signed Wagner or Saito.

In fairness, maybe Vazquez did have a career year, and Lowe, based on his career numbers, may rebound, but, Lowe is going to be 37, and Vazquez is much younger. You also can’t tell me this team is better off with 38 year old closer Wagner, and (40?) year old setup man Saito, than we were with Soriano and Gonzalez. I dont buy it. Wagner was one of the top closers in baseball earlier in his career, and, while he looked healthy late last year with the Metropolitans, we always have to worry about breakdown, or pitching him too much.

Frank made some longshot riverboat gambler moves, and, nearly all of them have to work out, for us to compete for the wild card.

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 18th, 2010
5:36 am

“Being Greg Norton” coming to a public access channel near you soon!

Mike wren

February 18th, 2010
6:11 am

wanna bet cox will keep kelly johnson in line-up till he .208 avg at june…..did put mike prado in he bat 328 avg rest of season…..and again Cox great lousy moves will again make us look again while nats are inprovein n mets n phillies are n we in last place at all-star nothin like sendin cox out as a 70-92 loser in 2010…and folks get u 2011 season tickets Now

french fries good with chillie

February 18th, 2010
6:14 am

Oh and folks remember jeff Francouer (if spelled it right) well he be Mets startin right fielder n be ready for his finest 2010 ever ,338 n 30 hr n 107rbi at all star break…..while cox will ruin more arms then a bad case of rogaine!

USMC DAWG

February 18th, 2010
6:28 am

Maybe if this was 2001 or 2002, I could get excited about signing Wagner or Glaus. What is it with Wren’s fascination with signing players coming off Tommy John surgery? And you know Glaus will miss 20+ games. Still never got a player capable of hitting 35 or more HR. Yeah, yeah, I know Glaus… Next year, my only hope is that Wren goes after a player less than 28 years old.

runtt

February 18th, 2010
6:45 am

Melky money would have come in handy when we tried to get Johnny Damon.

Braves Fan Forever

February 18th, 2010
7:06 am

Considering all the moves were lateral moves and may even be a step down in some cases… The only way this club is considered better than last year is if…

1. Chipper rebounds – he must have at least an average year for this club to have any chance at all.
2. Troy Glaus/Hinske must equal an average LaRoche year
3. There are no significant injuries
4. Jason Heyward must make a decent contribution. Not asking for a miracle here but if he can give us 20 homers from right field, this club has a chance. (We know he will probably eventually hit 40 and drive in 120)
5. Someone steps in and makes a great contribution for an injured player (you know this club has a high chance of injuries in several key areas: 3B, 1B, closer).

Anything else: big year from Nate McLouth, Schafer makes a splash, Mitch Jones hits a few homers, the overall bullpen becomes better than we think, etc. is all icing on the cake.

Senator Blutarski

February 18th, 2010
7:06 am

Some of the moves that seem so-so now might seem better if some of the older vets who have had injury problems recently play anywhere close to their peak years. The Vazquez move doesn’t seem so great. Not re-signing Norton seems like a good move! It will be interesting to see how it all plays out–of course there are some “ifs” but with the pitching, the Braves should at least be competitive. Of course, “if” Chipper returns to form, “if” Heyward is ready, “if” Glaus can have a good year, “if” McLouth comes back to all-star status, “if” the two old relievers pitch anywhere close to past years, “if” Lowe rebounds to a the solid kind of form he’s displayed before, and so on–

puff

February 18th, 2010
7:29 am

How ’bout a “rate Mark Bradley” opportunity? The most consistently wrong guy writing/talking sports in ATL.

Michael

February 18th, 2010
7:35 am

Geeze, all this talk about Greg Norton reminds me of how much Bobby really did do to destroy the 09 season. He’d pinch hit him every time with the game on the line. EPIC FAIL BOBBY. EPIC FAIL NORTON.

Jordan's Almonds

February 18th, 2010
7:36 am

Don’t forget Mr. Jordan Schaefer. Something tells me he will bounce back from his injuries and be the surprise star of the 2010 season.

DogTheMan

February 18th, 2010
7:57 am

The Braves are at best a .500 team. I mean we have no power and as always the one of the pitchers will get hurt. We traded pitching and got nothing in return. Liberty has done nothing to help this team. And management has done nothing but shoot in the dark with no results. ITS GOING TO BE A LONG SUMMER!!!!

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 18th, 2010
8:01 am

To bounce back, don’t you fall from previous good years. Saying Schaefer is going to “bounce back” is like saying Terence Moore is a has-been. Terence was never famous, so how could he be a has-been.

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 18th, 2010
8:02 am

who is Mitch Jones?

hatfieldgeoff

February 18th, 2010
8:02 am

Trading Vasquez was a mistake, but if you do it the deal has got to provide some solutions to Braves needs. The trade did not do that. Melki Cabrera wasn’t an answer to the bat we needed, so why the trade? The minor league pitcher better pan our or you just gave away a good starter for nothing. Wren couldn’t deal Lowe and felt like he had to do something, so he weakens our pitching staff without meeting a need. Not very smart. He needs to pony up for Damon we need an experienced hitter in the lineup.

Nativebird

February 18th, 2010
8:04 am

Very so-so except for one very critical good move…as long as Adam LaRoche was the Atlanta Braves first baseman, this team would have never…repeat never accomplish anything of material importance. Not his fault, just that way it was.

tp

February 18th, 2010
8:13 am

Greatest move ever: Not losing sleep over the fact that I’ll never be ‘first’ to comment in a blog.

Smith fan

February 18th, 2010
8:19 am

How the hell did Cox and Wren get their Braves jobs with all these available experts who hide behind fake vent names?

Walker, Texas Ranger

February 18th, 2010
8:21 am

Vasquez trade is not that bad. If you are looking just a Melkey, then yes it was horrible but we got the Yankees best young pitching prospect (Vizcaino) along with a lefty prospect that has a chance to play this year. Vizcaino could be a 1-2 type guy in the next 3 years, so the trade wasn’t a bad one. Now the Soriano deal, that was bad. We traded a legitimate 8th or 9th inning guy for a dirty uniform and a dozen baseballs.

tp

February 18th, 2010
8:21 am

The lousiest move this offseason: Thinking we can rely on two injury-prone players to play the entire season at the corner infield sports (with no viable backups).

I don’t disagree with getting rid of Johnson and giving Prado a much-deserved starting position. But, that rids us entirely of the player who would have surely played 20 to 30 games at third (days off + conservative estimate of injury time for Chipper).

hop

February 18th, 2010
8:23 am

bottomline… the braves will limp into another 3rd place or worse finish,as wrenn comes up with more reasons why the braves had another embarassing year.my only question is
when does college football season begin?

F-105 Thunderchief

February 18th, 2010
8:26 am

As I wrote yesterday, IF Chipper hits and doesn’t sit. IF Glaus hits and can play first base well. IF Wagner returns to form and IF Heyward puts up Bob-Horner-rookie-numbers without also breaking his wrist, the Braves should contend. But that’s a lot of ifs. The 2008 Braves’ pitching staff was held together with bailing string. 2010 has that kind of feel, except the hope-they-come-throughs are spread around the diamond.

Benjamin

February 18th, 2010
8:27 am

As presently constructed, I’m deeply disappointed with the offseason. Frank Wren went into it talking about how we were going to build on 2009 and make contender moves, and then proceeded to swap our ace from 09 for a fourth outfielder, a mop up man, and a pitching prospect who won’t see the majors until 2013. (It doesn’t help that the ace went to the Yankees. After the run of 14, it’s embarrassing to feel like we’re helping other teams contend.)

To me, general managers shouldn’t talk about what contenders they’re going to be when their trump cards are Melky Cabrera, Troy Glaus, and two 38+ year old relief pitchers. We had a strong, strong foundation in place going into the offseason — just needed to find a viable first baseman and resolve the back end of the bullpen — and, while I like Saito, I feel like we gambled on all three. Having Troy Glaus and Chipper Jones on the corners is playing the ultimate risk, considering their health history of the past few years. If either one of those two miss substantial amounts of time, which is much more likely than not, we’re going to be right back where we started, playing “fill-a-spot” with utility guys who are best suited as such.

We’re strong in areas, but as per the usual of late, we’re going into the year with some pretty big question marks.