Braves Offseason Wrap-Up

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. 

Uh, nevermind. 

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.

He said last week that if he can’t rebound from his TERRIBLE numbers a year ago, he will retire.  

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.

This doesn’t help his case, either.

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.



10 Responses to “Braves Offseason Wrap-Up”

  1. 1 Reptillicide March 2, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Dude, where to begin….

    Adam LaRoche is a player you want on your roster the SECOND HALF of a season, not the first. Go look at his numbers, he is awful in the first half of the season, and usually heats up in the 2nd half. Troy Glaus has hit at least 27 home runs in each of his last 7 seasons in which he’s played 120 games. Glaus > LaRoche and that isn’t even really a debate.

    After you get over the fact that you hate losing Vazquez, try to realize that Vazquez just had the best year of his career, and is unlikely to repeat that success. Also, realize that we had a traffic-jam of starting pitchers, with the return of Hudson, and holding onto Vazquez would simply be a waste of money, when we could spend money on free agents like Glaus, Wagner and Cabrera.

    Jordan Schafer was playing quite well until he broke his wrist. Remember that he tried to play through that without telling anyone, and it cost him more time than it would have had he stopped early. He has been rehabbing that wrist since. Secondly, Heyward is nothing like Schafer. He is 6’5, 245 lbs and a physical man-beast who is widely regarded as the top prospect in all of baseball.

    How the heck are you throwing Chipper under the bus when he just won the batting title in 2008? He didn’t wash up that fast. The reason he didn’t have a good year last year was because there was nobody in the lineup to protect him, and he had to try and provide all the team’s power, which is not something he does well. The addition of Glaus to the cleanup spot means Chipper will see more pitches and won’t be pressured to try to muscle everything out of the park. Chipper spent the off-season adding lean muscle mass, and reported to camp at 232 lbs, as opposed to the 220 he came in at in 2009. He’s going to be fine. It’s also absurd that you say he’s costing us too much money. He took a PAY CUT already so the franchise could bring in other players, and he’s easily one of the best hitters in all of baseball. Not 5 years ago. Today. Really the most outrageous part of this entire post was your judgment of Chipper. And it is outrageous. There is not another guy out there who has done more to help his team (whether it be moving to another position or taking a cut in salary) than Chipper Jones, and I have no doubt that if he feels he’s not helping, he will do what he said. But you should pray that he does bounce back, because we’re not ready for life without Chipper.

  2. 2 Corbindawg March 2, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I understand there was a logjam on the pitching staff, but what the Braves did defied logic. Wren openly shopped Lowe, who in turn got his feelings hurt and publicly was upset, and then out of no where they traded the most productive pitcher on the staff.

    Who did they trade him for? Cabberra. Not an even trade, like one of the ones Ucheedawg makes in our fantasy baseball league.

    As far as Glaus is concerned, we got him for a song. Only $1.75 million, and if he can produce then it is a GREAT deal. My concern is in 2003 he missed 70+ games and in 2004 missed over 100 games due to a shoulder injury. Go to 2007 and he had nagging injuries that caused him to miss close to 60 games. Last year, he missed essentially the whole season due to shoulder surgery. He is a stud, and Wren paid a small price to get him, but I don’t think that he can be counted on as a solid get until he proves he can bounce back from his injuries.

    Heyward is going to be very good, but my point there is he hasn’t faced big league stuff so we should temper our excitement on him. Call me a pessimist.

    And onto Chipper. Look, I love what Chipper Jones has done and I think there should be no debate: he should be a 1st ballot HOF.

    However, what makes me think that 2008 was the norm and not the exception? Chipper has missed 211 games since 2004. He is injury prone, no? That is a fact. No major injuries, but he is good to go on the DL for some sort of foot, hamstring etc.. injury. Chipper is a clutch player, but what is more likely: repeat 2008 or repeat 2005 (109 games), 2006 (110 games) and 2009 (career lows)? I hope he plays outstanding, but is he at the point where everyday play is consistent for him anymore?

  3. 3 ucheedawg March 2, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Corbin, you’re the Kensingtondawg of the Braves! You need to have as much faith in them as you do our Dawgs! You gave Willie a bigger break than you’re giving Chipper!

    • 4 Corbindawg March 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm

      Please read what I have written previously and specifically tell me where I am misguided in these points:

      1. Frank Wren has proven himself to be an incapable GM and bad at PR.
      2. The Vazquez trade was terrible; however the pitching rotation will still be solid top to bottom.
      3. Chipper Jones and Troy Glaus have missed signifigant playing time since 2004 and 2005 and we should expect more of the same until they prove otherwise. With that being said, if Glaus can work out it will be a great get.
      4. While Heyward is a man child, we should be “cuatiously optimistic”, since he has only played 3 career games above AA.
      5. The Braves are capable of a Wild Card berth, and with the pitching they have, can be dangerous in a post season run.

      AND…familiarity breeds contempt. The Braves are around more often, ergo to give them grief more often.

      Where I come from, people have been giving Chipper hell for years, since he is injury prone. So, in that sense of being extremely loyal in the face of opposition, I have treated Chipper with the same fairness of Willie.

      • 5 Reptillicide March 4, 2010 at 2:24 am

        1. Frank Wren improved the ball club by 14 wins in 1 season on the job. He deserves the benefit of the doubt, because he’s been anything but “incapable” thus far. As far as PR, John Smoltz has been a primadonna for a long time, so his whining wasn’t too surprising. The bad blood with Glavine started a long time ago with Schuerholz, so you can’t blame that entire saga on Wren.

        2. The Vazquez trade was a salary dump. You don’t get an equal player in a salary dump. We were trying to free up cap space, and did so, in the meantime gaining a better defensive outfielder than anyone on our roster last year, save for McLouth.

        3. Chipper Jones is a career .300 hitter. I’d say 2008 is more the norm than the exception. He also played as many games as any other major leaguer did last year. Troy Glaus had an injury that has been surgically repaired. There’s no reason to question whether he will suffer another serious injury. There is simply no logic behind that line of thinking. When pitchers have tommy john surgery, nobody says “he’ll probably need it again.” Glaus’ injury isn’t much different.

        4. 2 games into spring training now with the big league club, and he’s still killing it. Chipper Jones said he’d be “shocked” if Heyward doesn’t break camp with the MLB club. I have not read/heard one single thing to make me feel like I should temper my expectations for Heyward to be a significant contributor this year. Think Jeff Francoeur’s first year, except a stronger hitter who won’t strike out all the time and won’t fade away after his rookie season.

  4. 6 Reptillicide March 4, 2010 at 2:26 am

    And people who give Chipper hell for being injury prone are morons.

    • 7 ucheedawg March 4, 2010 at 9:59 am

      I actually agree. Sorry corbin. Go Braves!

      • 8 Corbindawg March 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm

        “After eight seasons of playing at least 153 games, he has not played more than 137 in the last four. In fact, his recent placement on the DL represented the seventh time he has gone on the disabled list during the last four-plus seasons. Coming into 2008, Jones had missed a total of 158 games from 2004 through 2007.”

        That was written during the 2008 MVP-quality, chase for .400 season. Couple that with his lack luster performance in 2009, and I think it is a legitimate concern to wonder how effective Chipper can be over a 162 game season at this point in his career.

        If averaging almost 2 stints on the DL per season is not injury prone, then what is? Missing almost an entire season every four seasons?

        Again, I ask this same question: Do you not hold your breath everytime he rounds the base paths trying to get an extra base.

        Look, Chipper Jones is one of the all time great Braves. But the dude is injury prone.

  5. 9 ucheedawg March 5, 2010 at 8:06 am

    This coming from the guy who continued to say Willie is fine, it’s not him. We don’t need to fire Willie. You gave him a leash twice as long as a HOF baseball player and all-time great. Come on! Where’s the optimism now?

  1. 1 Monday Re-Cap « The Grit Tree Trackback on April 6, 2010 at 8:02 am

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