Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Texeira Trade Thoughts...

Well, as predicted here, Big Tex is gone to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Braves weren't able to get any stud pitching prospects, landing Kotchman was the key to the deal. Now, instead of losing Tex for a couple picks this winter, they have a good 1st baseman at an affordable price. Kotchman is under Braves control until 2012 and will probably command just 4-5 million a year the next 2 years in arbitration. The only way this deal turns out to be good for LAA is if they resign Tex or win the World Series this year.

However, this does not solve all of Atlanta's problems. They are still without a right handed power hitter in the outfield and suddenly have a gaping hole in the rotation. Published reports have Wren actively pursuing Jason Bay and I am still holding out hope a Bay for Francoeur/Lillbridge/Prospect deal can go through by Thursday. Locking up 1st base for 2009 at an affordable rate and acquiring Bay at his 09 salary (7.5 million) would go a long way toward fielding a competitive team next season. I also am not opposed to shopping Kelly Johnson and Mark Kotsay - Ohman is all but gone for prospects.

The reason the rotation is scary now is because it looks like Tim Hudson will miss all of 2009. This puts a lot of pressure on Smoltz to come back healthy to anchor the rotation. In the scenario proposed above, all off-season spending can be on starting pitching. The Braves may even have to sign two pitchers to fill out the 09 starting staff.

Could this team compete for a title next season? If both free agent starting pitchers listed sign for around 10 million per season, the team payroll will be similar to the past 3 seasons.

C - McCann
1B - Kotchman
2B - K. Johnson/Lillbridge
SS - Escobar
3B - Chipper
RF - Bay
CF - Shafer
LF - B. Jones

SP - Smoltz
SP - Jurrjens
SP - D. Lowe
SP - Garland
SP - Campillo

RP - Soriano
RP - Gonzo

The problem here is you are again counting on Smoltz and Chipper to stay healthy and carry the load. There are also 2 rookies in the starting lineup and too many left handed hitters.

At least there is now another guy to throw into the group of current players you are comfortable building your team around:


Back to the trade - I was convinced last weekend that there wasn't any way Atlanta got C.Jackson, Loney, Youkilis, etc. Kotchman is by far the best MLB ready 1st baseman that was available so I certainly am happy about the deal. He has never shown great power or patience at the plate, but is a good hitter nonetheless. And, the deal is WAAAY better than the Chad Tracy/Micah Owings deal I read about last night - what a disaster that would have been. Unless Owings pulls a Rick Ankiel in 3 years...

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