Braves Have Options

December 22, 2008 at 1:22 pm Leave a comment

PhotobucketPhotobucket

The Atlanta Braves are sitting quite right now and one has to wonder why. With a current roster that boasts about a $70M+ payroll (including potential raises in arbitration) the Braves still have roughly $30M to spend to match last season’s total payroll of just over $102M. With huge holes in the outfield and in the pitching staff, the Braves have plenty of options to chose from.

The Braves current starting roster looks something like this:

C – Brian McCann
1B – Casey Kotchman
2B – Kelly Johnson
SS – Yunel Escobar
3B – Chipper Jones
LF – Matt Diaz
CF – Josh Anderson/Gregor Blanco/Brandon Jones
RF – Jeff Francoeur

SP – Tim Hudson
SP – Javier Vazquez
SP – Jair Jurrjens
SP – Jorge Campillo
SP – Jo-Jo Reyes/Charlie Morton

RP – Rafael Soriano
RP – Mike Gonzalez
RP – Blaine Boyer
RP – Jeff Bennett
RP – Manny Acosta
RP – Buddy Carlyle
RP – Boone Logan

The Braves could obviously use an upgrade at any of their three outfield spots, another starter wouldn’t hurt, and their pen could use another arm. Here are a few options available via free agency for their outfield:

Milton Bradley
Adam Dunn
Pat Burrell
Rocco Baldelli
Bobby Abreu
Jonny Gomes
Erik Hinske

Bradley is seeking a 3 year deal and his defense is very suspect. Dunn and Burrell would be great options on a 1 year deal but both should be 1B/DH types. Baldelli is the best option but he is garnering interest from many teams and should be reasonably priced. Abreu needs to move to left and wants 3 years. Gomes seems to only hit lefties and they already have Diaz for that. Hinkse could be a bargain.

Of those choices Rocco Baldelli makes the most sense to me. He has played CF and RF and should have no problem in LF if needed. If the want a big bat for at least 3 years then Adam Dunn should be their man but they would need a plus defender in CF to makeup for his defense. Another option is to move Kelly Johnson to LF and sign Orlando Hudson to play 2B.

With prospects Jordan Schaefer, Gorkys Hernandez, and Jayson Heyward not far off the Braves would be best suited to add guys to short term deals. If I were the Braves this would be the way I would go about the OF problem.

– Sign Rocco Baldelli to an incentive laden deal that could be a potential long term deal (vesting options and player options). He would solve the problem in CF and if the prospects all turn out to be above average big leaguers while Baldelli is in a Braves uniform then he would be a great fourth outfielder.

– Sign Orlando Hudson to a 3 year deal in the $8-$10M range. He wouldn’t block any prospects and the Braves could then move Kelly Johnson to LF and platoon with Matt Diaz.

The starting lineup could look like this (or some other variation):

1. Escobar – SS
2. Hudson – 2B
3. Jones – 3B
4. McCann – C
5. Kotchman – 1B
6. Johnson – LF
7. Baldelli – CF
8. Francoeur – RF

Those two signings would cost around $14-15M leaving them with another $15M to spend on pitching. Here are some pitching options for the Braves:

Starters:
Paul Byrd
Freddy Garcia
Jon Garland
Tom Glavine
Randy Johnson
Braden Looper
Derek Lowe
Brad Penny
Oliver Perez
Andy Pettitte
Ben Sheets
John Smoltz
Randy Wolf

With $15M left to spend they would have to use all of it to get Lowe, Sheets, Perez, Pettitte, and possibly Smoltz. They could get Wolf for around $10M but I would balk at that. Penny might be had on a 2 year deal for just under $10M per year. Garland wants $8M+ and he’s not worth it. Johnson could be had for under $10M. For $4-6M they could have Looper, Byrd, Garcia, and possibly Glavine.

Relievers:
Chad Cordero
Brian Fuentes
Eddie Guardado
Trevor Hoffman
Brandon Lyon
Takashi Saito
Luis Ayala
Chris Britton
Juan Cruz
Keith Foulke
Joe Nelson
Rudy Seanez
Russ Springer

It’s looking more likely that Fuentes is going to have to settle for $7-8M over three years. Hoffman wants to close and wants at least $6M. Cruz is looking for at least 3 years and $5M per. Guys like Foulke, Seanez, Springer, and Guardado could be had on one year deals for $1-4M.

If I were the Braves I would sign Juan Cruz first and foremost. He gets a ton of Ks and can pitch more than one inning outings. If he was a closer he would be getting over $10M per season. Then I would try to get Joe Nelson or Chris Britton on deals below $1M. I would swithc my focus to starting pitching and I would try and sign Sheets to a 2 year $24M deal but if that doesn’t work I woudl turn my attention to Penny and offer him $16-18M over 2 years. The Braves pitching staff could look like this:

SP – Tim Hudson
SP – Javier Vazquez
SP – Jair Jurrjens
SP – Brad Penny
SP – Jorge Campillo

RP – Rafael Soriano (RHP)
RP – Mike Gonzalez (LHP)
RP – Juan Cruz (RHP)
RP – Jeff Bennett (RHP)
RP – Manny Acosta (RHP)
RP – Buddy Carlyle (RHP)
RP – Boone Logan (LHP)

These moves would keep their payroll in line with 2008’s while adding significant upgrades. The additions of Baldelli and Hudson to the lineup and defense should add a minimum of 4-6 wins to the team and the additions of Penny and Cruz should also add a minimum of 4-6 wins (if healthy, of course). And they already added Vazquez and Logan which should be another 3 wins or so. The Braves would easily improve from a 72 win team to an 82-85 win team and that doesn’t include current players progressing and they wouldn’t have to mortgage any of the future by making these moves.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell
-free agent lists taken from MLBtraderumors.com

online advertising

Advertisements

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Phillies Should’ve Retained Burrell Over Signing Ibanez Reds Sign Taveras to a 2-Yr Deal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Recent Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11 other followers

Twitter Updates

Facebook Page

Archives


%d bloggers like this: