I have wanted to speak on the Braves for several weeks now. I haven’t had time with work and travel to sit down and adequately put my thoughts on paper (or screen, as the case may be).
There have been a lot of happenings the last couple of weeks, with spring training officially starting up. I will preface this by saying that Frank Wren knows more about baseball than I do, but that doesn’t mean I can’t rip into him a little. I haven’t been pleased with some of the recent headlines, so not trying to be all negative like a certain Middle GA sportstalk show host, let’s just jump right on in:
Frank Wren could you know what to a you know what: I was optimistic that when John Schuerholz became Club President and handed over the GM office to Frank Wren, the personnel decisions that will make Schuerholz a Hall of Famer would not miss a beat. I know Schuerholz was banged on pretty good about the Texiera deal in 2007, but I liked going out and getting a big star for a playoff run (and the Braves were going to the playoffs that season if Edgar Rentería hadn’t gotten hurt, but I digress). Frank Wren’s one and done player wasn’t as star worthy as Texiera.
Who did we get last year for a playoff run? Adam “I think about hunting while playing first base because I have ADD” LaRoche. LaRoche had a nice season last year, but are the Braves better off with Troy Glaus or LaRoche? I hope Troy Glaus is able to bounce back from his injury, but if Glaus doesn’t hit 25 HR and hit .280, then was giving up something for LaRoche and not resigning him worth it?
I won’t go into the Vazquez deal again.
Wren went after Johnny Damon and failed to get him. I was ok with this; I never wanted Damon in the first place. The Braves’ problems last year on offense was not batting for average: it was power. Brain McCain is solid, but he is does not belong batting 4th.
So far, I am not impressed with what Frank Wren has done with the Braves organization.
There is an impressive rookie outfielder reporting to training camp: Haven’t we heard this before? Ah yes, it must be Jordan Schafer.
Jason Heyward is having himself quite the impressive the spring. Veterans such as Derek Lowe and Chipper Jones have gushed over the 6’4” outfielder. I hope that he can come in and make an impact to the Braves’ patch worked outfield, but I am going to be cautiously optimistic. He has played 3 games above AA, so let’s curb our enthusiasm.
What is this, 1996: There was a collective sigh of relief when it was announced that Jair Jurrjen’s shoulder problem was just inflammation. The Braves rotation still has one big question mark: Tim Hudson. If Hudson is strong enough following Tommy John surgery and can avoid the nagging injuries that he has suffered since being traded from Oakland, the Braves’ five man rotation should be the best in baseball.
Lowe will get the start on opening day (to appease him), the rest of the rotation to finish out the first week will be: Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Hudson and Kenshin Kawakami. That is a rotation with three aces, one future ace and one very manageable 5th starter.
Chipper Jones is old, overpaid and needs to be shown the way of the Dodo: Chipper Jones will play be playing his last season for the Braves, if he is true to his word.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Chipper Jones as much as the next guy, but let’s be realistic here. What is more likely: Chipper having a MVP caliber season like he did in 2008 (.364 BA, .470 OBP, 22 HR, 75 RBI) or having an injury plagued season like he has in recent years?
I hold my breath every time he stretches out to save a double or rounds first base. Chipper Jones’ ridiculously high salary (approximately $14 million this season) really “hamstrung” (pun intended) Frank Wren in going out and getting a big time bat.
Frank Wren as already shown that he is not the best at PR; the John Smoltz and Tom Glavine situations made Wren look like the bad guy (and honestly, I did agree with Wren on both of those decisions). Why cut two aging pitchers and then sign an aging, injury prone third baseman to a HUGE contract extension? I say, since there is no loyalty to veterans who built the franchise, go ahead and sever ties with Chipper. He is not worth the cheddar being given to him, and we don’t want the franchise to suffer because another aging star won’t burn out gracefully.
You cut me Chipper, you cut me deep.
I know the overall tone of this post was on the negative side, but I think the Braves could field a very good team-if things break right. I said in September that the Braves have the pitching; all they need to gain during the offseason is a big bat. That was the one piece of the puzzle. In all the offseason moves, we weakened our already strong pitching and didn’t upgrade anything proven on offense.
I still think we have a good shot at post season play. With the Braves’ stout rotation and solid bullpen, they will be in a lot of ballgames. With a pitching staff like that, all you need to do is make it to the postseason (see Arizona Diamondbacks). The Phillies will be hard to unseat: if the 2010 Braves club can earn a Wildcard birth, then they could be a dangerous team.