Thursday, January 14, 2010

Braves avoid Arbitration with newly acquired Cabrera

The Braves and outfielder Melky Cabrera have agreed to a one year, $3.1 million contract, avoiding arbitration. Cabrera was acquired in a deal with the New York Yankees which sent right hander Javier Vazquez and reliever Boone Logan to the Bronx.

Cabrera earned $1.4 million in 2009.
(Photo: Getty Images; source)
UPDATE: According to Baseball Tonight’s Buster Onley, the Braves are still looking for an additional outfielder, who I continue to hope is not Johnny Damon.

News&Notes: Adam LaRoche has signed a one year, $5 million contract with the Diamondbacks where he'll join Kelly Johnson who signed with the team earlier this month. LaRoche turned down a two year, $17 million deal with the Giants last week. I think I would have taken the money to join the Giants. Have you seen their pitching staff lately?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Braves to add Hinske

Sources have revealed the Braves are close to signing Eric Hinske. The utility man batted .242 with eight homers and .780 OPS for the Pirates and Yankees in 2009, but had 20 homers with the Rays in 2008. Hinske would be used primarily from off the bench.

If he’s cheap, he’s a better choice than Johnny Damon who doesn’t realize his best years are far behind him. However, this is likely the final offseason move for the Braves who are still lacking real power. If Hinske turns into the Braves' Matt Stairs, then that’s great, but where’s the every day bat? Troy Glaus, I am not so sure.
(Photo: Getty Images; source)

Your First Look At Troy Glaus

Troy Glaus was officially welcomed into the Braves family on Tuesday. Atlanta finalized a deal with the first baseman for $1.75 million, which was less than I was reading. For $1.75 million, I think he’s a risk worth taking.

News&Notes: Kelly Johnson has landed with the Diamondbacks.
(Photo: AP)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bring us your weak and elderly

In what has become a theme this offseason, the Braves have once again signed an aging veteran who had an injury plagued 2009. This time, Atlanta decided to temporarily plug first base with Troy Glaus who played just 14 games for the Cardinals last year. He also spent a large portion of this final two seasons in Anaheim in the trainer’s room, playing a combined 149 games in 2003 and 2004.

Atlanta is also said to be looking at Xavier Nady as the answer to their current power outage in left. Great, because a hat trick is not good enough. Maybe they could go the Grodie Howe route and add a fight and an assist to the collection. Scratch that, maybe they could just bring in Gordie Howe.

My major concern is that the Braves are leveraging to 2010 for the future. Which normally I would be fine with, but considering this is Bobby Cox’s final season, I’d rather they put things on the line for a trip to the playoffs.
(Photo: Getty Images; source)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Braves send Vazquez back to New York

The Braves have traded RHP Javier Vazquez to the Yankees for outfielder Melky Cabrera and reliever Mike Dunn. Atlanta also sent Boone Logan to New York and received right-handed pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino and $500,000 in the deal.

My initial reaction to the news was shear horror. Mekly is adorable like a teddy bear but I don’t really want something I created at Build-A-Bear workshop to be manning center field for the Bravos. He’s a marginal outfielder at best who amassed only 68 RBIs and 13 HRs in 154 games in 2009. And remember half those games took place in Yankee Stadium, a place where a pop fly to first suddenly becomes a homerun. In fact, in only 125 games Matt Diaz had 13 homeruns and 58 RBI, some pick up Frank!

The only upside in this deal is that it clears salary cap room to help facilitate the acquisition of a power hitter. And I swear if the Braves pick up Johnny Damon with the left over funding I am going down to Atlanta and will stalk Frank Wren like I am Tom Cruise and he is Michael David Sapir! Ok, I won’t wire tap!
(Photo: Getty Images; source)

Monday, December 21, 2009

News Heading into Christmas

Mike Gonzalez is Gonzo
Mike Gonzalez signed a two year, $12 million contract with the Orioles ending his tenure with Atlanta. Let’s see, Gonzo for $6 million a year vs. Billy Wagner for $7 million a year. 31 year old proven reliever vs. 38 year old coming off of Tommy John surgery. Oh yeah, this makes about as much sense as Gonzalez’s gingham shirt and vest combo.
Adam LaRoche’s second go round with the Braves looks like it was brief one. When asked by the Atlanta Journal Constitution about his likelihood of re-signing with Atlanta, the first basemen texted “No talk from ATL that I know of. Guess I should have hit .400 while I was there." That’s not really a fair assessment Adam, you only played with the Braves in the second half of the season when you are at your best. If you could hit .300 from April to July then you’d probably be back with Atlanta for the type of money you want.

Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez heading to the Angels?
The Braves have reportedly been in talks with the Angels to trade either Javier Vazquez or Derek Lowe west for outfielder Juan Rivera. Rivera had career totals in HRs (25) and RBI (88) but he also has a history of injury shortened seasons. If Atlanta is going to give up Lowe or Vazquez, I’d rather they get someone a bit better back.
(Photo: AP & Reuters)

Braves stock up at the bargain bin
Atlanta have invited Scott Proctor, Joe Thurston, Mitch Gomez, Brent Clevien and three others to spring training as non-roster invitees. Proctor has made 262 career relief appearances with the Yankees and Dodgers among others. He underwent Tommy John surgery and will likely be unavailable until May. Good, he and Billy Wagner can trade war stories.

Former Brave Signings
Outfielder Ryan Langerhans has signed a one year, $525,000 contract to stay with the Seattle Mariners.

Things are also looking up for second baseman Kelly Johnson who is being pursued by the Diamondbacks.
UPDATE: Jason Marquis signed a two year, $15 million contract with the Washington Nationals. Wow, the Nats have really been stocking up this offseason.
(Photo: AP)

Monday, December 14, 2009

We’ve Got A Lot of Catching Up to Do

It has been a very busy offseason for the Braves so here’s a quick look back on the last two months:

Braves re-sign Tim Hudson
After opting out of his contract, Tim Hudson decided to stay with Atlanta, signing a three year deal worth $28 million. The contract also includes a club option for 2013.

“Strengthening the Bullpen”
The Braves were unsure if either Mike Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano would accept arbitration so they decided to be proactive by picking up Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito. The idea made sense but paying Billy Wagner, an aging veteran who is coming off of Tommy John surgery, $7 million for one year seems excessive. And then add the $3 million they gave to Saito who will be forty before the season starts and it seems like that $10 million would have been served better as part of Jason Bay’s contract than on two guys who are closer to 50 than they are to 20.

Rafael Soriano surprised the Braves by accepting their arbitration offer which left them with an extra reliever and no where to put his contract ($7.25 million) so they sent him to the Rays for reliever Jesse Chavez.

After re-signing Tim Hudson, the Braves are overflowing with starters. At last count they had six legitimate pitchers going for five rotation spots. So instead of moving Kenshin Kawakami to the bullpen, alleviating the problem and keeping a competent starter for emergency use, the Braves have decided to dangle Derek Lowe. Currently, the market seems a bit stale for a pitcher who still has three more years on his $60 million contract, but Atlanta is holding out hope.

Diaz In, Johnson and Church Out
The Braves re-signed outfielder Matt Diaz to a one year, $2.25 million contract while cutting second baseman Kelly Johnson and outfielder Ryan Church. Martin Prado proved to be a much better option at second and let’s face it Ryan Church already served his purpose; he got Jeff Francoeur out of Atlanta. Anything after that was icing on the cake.
So What’s Next?
With the bullpen solidified, Atlanta now must turn their emphasis to their offense. The Braves are not contenders in the Matt Holliday sweepstakes and the Mets look to be very aggressive in the Jason Bay free for all so that leaves very few good options for the Braves - who by the way – could also use a first baseman. Xavier Nady is an interesting option. He has power, but he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Hank Blalock has power but is not very consistent and the same could be said for Ryan Garko. Atlanta’s best option will probably come from the trade market; I just wish someone would take Kawakami off Atlanta’s hands instead of Derek Lowe.
(Photos: AP)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Huddy to become a free agent?

Major League sources are talking and I am not loving what they are saying. Barring a big offer from the Braves, Tim Hudson could become a free agent this offseason. Hudson and the Braves have a mutual $12 million option for 2010, but if Hudson rejects the option, he’ll become a free agent.

Hudson has been a staple in the Braves rotation since his trade to Atlanta in 2004 offseason. Four years later, the right hander suffered a set back when he was forced to undergo Tommy John Surgery, but was able to return in September 2009, going 2-1 with a 3.61 ERA in those final seven starts.

Without Hudson, the Braves would still command one of the best starting rotations in the National League with Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hanson and Kenshin Kawakami. I would just rather have Hudson in there and move Kawakami to the bullpen.
(Photo: Getty Images; source)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Braves Complete Sweep; Remain 2.5 back

Braves 6, Nationals 3

With time running out, the Braves were able to pull off an extra innings victory over the Nationals to wrap up a sweep of the bumbling Nats. Brian McCann drove in the go ahead run in the 10th with a week grounder that scored Nate McLouth. Omar Infante followed with a two run single that padded their lead.

The Braves will now head home for a three game set against the Marlins followed by four against the Nationals. They’ll have to stay as close to perfect as possible to keep pace with the Rockies, but anything can happen!

Atlanta picked up a game in the Wild Card standings after Colorado fell to St. Louis, 6-3 on Saturday.

News&Notes: On Mike & Mike this morning, Buster Olney declared the Braves pitching rotation the best in the National League. I’d agree with that.
(Photo: AP)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Braves continue hot streak but is it too late?

The Braves wrapped up their sweep of the Mets with a 5-2 victory moving them just four games behind the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card. The Braves are tied for second in the race but with just over a week left is it too little too late for Atlanta?

It seems for the past few seasons the Braves have moved into a seasonal pattern. For the first few months the Braves hover around .500 until the All-Star break descends and they move into high gear propelling them right into the thick of the playoff hunt until mid-August when they begin to stumble. Once their name has fallen from reporter’s tongues as a possible playoff team (somewhere around the second week of September) they start up a hot streak, getting close to a playoff spot but ultimately falling short.

Not one to give up before they are mathematically eliminated, it seems the Braves will fail to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year. But don’t fear Braves fans, there is some hope. In the next 10 games; the Braves will play the lowly Nationals seven times. They also will play the Marlins – who are also still mathematically alive – three times. In addition to the friendly opponents, Atlanta will end the season with a seven game homestand, a place where they are four games over .500.

Still the task at hand will not be easy. As red hot as the Braves have been over the last few weeks, the Rockies have been equally as hot and the Giants - who are tied with the Braves for second in the race - feature a stellar rotation with Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum at its helm. Over their final 10 games, the Rockies will have series against the Cardinals who should have their playoff ticket punched by the start of the series, three games against the Brewers and a final series against the Dodgers who should also have the division wrapped up. The Giants, meanwhile, will play against the Cubs, Diamondbacks and Padres – all teams who are closer to a spot on the golf course than in the post season.

One thing is for sure, even if the Braves miss out on the playoffs this season, they can take pride in their stellar record and what appears to be a very exciting future.

News&Notes: Poor Martin Prado, if it’s not unexplained headaches it’s a ball ramming into his knee during batting practiceChipper Jones stands only three homeruns away from having his 15th straight season with 20 homeruns. If he can get the required dingers, he’ll be the only person to accomplish that feat…In addition to announcing the signing of Bobby Cox, the Braves have announced they will retain their current coaching staff.

(Photo: AP)