Archive for the ‘The Hot Button’ Category

The Hot Button: Should Braves be buyers or sellers?

Frank Wren was the most aggressive general manager in baseball over the winter. Barely a week passed that the Braves weren’t in the middle of some transaction, some of which were consummated (Vazquez, Lowe, Kawakami, Garret Anderson), some of which were not (Peavy, Burnett, Furcal, Griffey). With the Braves four games out of first place with 78 to go, there seems little chance he’ll relax now.

But maybe he should. Maybe this is one of those almost-but-not-quite seasons that would be better left to its own devices. Wren has already made a major move in landing Nate McLouth, and that was a reasoned acquisition — a team that needed a professional center fielder found one who’s under contract for four years more. But sometimes decisions made near the trade deadline are less reasoned. Sometimes you swing for the fences and wind up with …

Mark Teixeira for 365 days.

Wren, it must be said, didn’t make that trade. John Schuerholz did. And the new GM has positioned the Braves nicely …

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The Hot Button: Should the Braves trade Yunel Escobar?

Yunel Escobar is, shall we say, a different sort of Brave. He has blond highlights in his hair. He doesn’t always pay attention. He has a temper and is given to the sulks. He has yet to respond to the gentle urgings of Bobby Cox, which have become less gentle over time.

According to Buster Olney of, the Braves “are willing to trade Escobar for a good hitter right now.” (Link requires registration.) But I don’t think they will. Nor do I believe they should. Because Yunel Escobar is a different sort of Brave in another way:

He can really hit. And he can really play.

The Braves have become so skilled at siphoning off higher-maintenance types that they have lesser tolerance for one than do, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers. But sometimes a higher level of maintenance isn’t just needed but advisable. Some guys are worth the trouble. John Rocker was not. Yunel Escobar is.

He’s a great talent who comes with an inherent disconnect. He doesn’t speak much English. (He’s from …

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The Hot Button: Why the Hawks still must pluck a PG

It became clear the moment Mike Bibby arrived from Sacramento: This is how it’s done. You find a point guard and put the ball in his hands and live happily ever after. And that’s why, in a draft deep in nothing except point guards, the Hawks should take one with the 19th pick tonight.

Let’s assume the Jamal Crawford trade is consummated, and let’s even assume the Hawks re-sign Bibby: Even then, there’d always be a need for a distributor, and no team knows it better than the one that passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams in 2004. It took the Hawks until February 2008 to find a real point guard, and once they did they were never the same.

With Bibby on the floor, they were transformed. They were creative. They were properly positioned. They were, for lack of a better word, good. They took the Celtics to Game 7 that spring, and they were even better in 2008-2009, winning 47 games and a Round 1 series. They know now what they should have known all along: Unless you have a …

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The Hot Button: Do the Braves need a new manager?

He’s the best manager I’ve ever seen. He’s the best manager I’ll ever see. That said …

I’m not sure Bobby Cox is the best manager for what the Braves have become.

They’ve gone from being great over 15 seasons to being not very good the past 3 1/2. There’s still a aura of assurance around Turner Field, a feeling that, “Oh, we’re the Braves and we’ll figure out something,” but the Braves haven’t figured out much since Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur were rookies. No, the manager hasn’t stopped managing, but this sort of team needs more managing than Cox likes to do.

He’s a player’s guy, now and forever. He loves his players and treats them like men. The Braves of the ’90s were indeed men, even those who arrived as rookies. They were serious about the game and serious about winning for this manager. I’m not sure what some of these Braves take seriously.

Who can reach Yunel Escobar? Who can instruct Jeff Francoeur in the art of plate management? Who can break the news that Kelly …

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