Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New developments...

Interesting blog today from Mark Bowman, who mentions that any team that was interested in acquiring Derek Lowe wanted the Braves to eat half of the 45 million that remained on his contract. Thus, it is easy to see why Vazquez was moved instead. Also, speculation is that no one other than the Yankees were interested in taking on Vazquez and pay his entire 11.5 million salary (Angels??). So, I guess getting a 4th outfielder, bootleg lefty, and a top 3 prospect from the Yankees wasn't so bad after all.

Now to today's developments...The Glaus signing (2 million for 1 year with incentives) makes me think the Braves didn't want to give LaRoche a multi-year contract and are intent on giving the job to Freddie Freeman as soon as next year. An Adrian Gonzalez trade is now likely off the board, but the team is far from set. Thinking Glaus will be a middle of the order hitter and stay healthy the whole year is not realistic. That would be comparable to signing Raul Mondesi/Brian Jordan to fill a corner outfield spot...

It is becoming more apparent that Mark DeRosa is the perfect piece to finish off the team. He can play the outfield with McLouth and Heyward/Cabrera/Diaz, first base if Glaus is hurt, or 3rd if Chipper is hurt. Also, Glaus could play 3rd in the case of a Chipper injury and DeRosa to 1st. He is also another right handed bat that would balance the lineup well.


That's a pretty good lineup with some right handed power at the bottom. Throw in Diaz who lights up lefties and you have a pretty deep team.

With that said, the team still has work to do before spring training. The 10+ million available to Wren needs to be used wisely. Either sign DeRosa, trade for Uggla, or do something outside the box - like the Glaus signing...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More on the Braves...

Ken Rosenthal is now saying that the Braves have admitted they can't afford Bay or Holliday, but are interested in Mark DeRosa. What about signing DeRosa to 3/21 and LaRoche to 3/25? LaRoche brings solid defense and power from the left side, and DeRosa's versatility would allow for some flexibility in the lineup each day.

Consider this lineup against righty's...

McLouth - CF
Prado - 2B
Jones - 3B
McCann - C
Escobar - SS
LaRoche - 1B
DeRosa - RF
Cabrera - LF

Against lefty's...

McLouth - CF
Prado - 2B
Jones - 3B
McCann - C
Escobar - SS
DeRosa - 1B
Diaz - RF
Cabrera - LF

This doesn't consider Heyward, but if he is ready, just move him into the lineup for Cabrera. This team would, mixed with a good pitching staff, could compete for the NL East title. They should be deep, with Infante on the bench and LaRoche against lefty's and Diaz against righty's. If Heyward is in the lineup, Cabrera is a solid 4th outfielder.

The possibility of trading for Adrian Gonzalez is also an option that is intriguing. It would likely take Freeman/Medlen/Teheran/Prospect, but he could come in and be the clean up hitter/threat that could make this team a real contender.

The Uggla trade is also being discussed, but I don't know how likely that is or if I like it either. There has to be something in the works and the sooner we hear what it is the sooner I can forget about the transaction made this morning...

Christmas musings...

I was up this morning looking for a blog topic when I saw the Joel Sherman tweet about the Yankees being close to acquiring Javy Vazquez. I was figuring the Braves would be getting Nick Swisher + prospects in the deal and was pretty excited about the potential deal. Alas, the news turned sour when it become apparent the deal was for Melky Cabrera, a swap of bootleg lefties, and a 19 year old pitcher 3+ years from the bigs.

Why the timing of this trade? I understand for NY they felt a need to match the Lackey move the Sox made, but what is our hurry? It was known that Lowe was being dangled and if there was no market for him, why rush into trading Javy? I feel the Braves could have received more for a guy that is a lock for 200+ innings and 12+ wins.

Here is a quick breakdown of the players the Braves received:

Melky Cabrera - .274-13-68 in 154 games last year
Mike Dunn - LHP with good slider that should make big league club
Aloyds Vizcaino - Flame throwing 19 year old Dominican with big time stuff - think Neftali Feliz

But, now that the deal is done, what does this mean for the team? First, according to David O'Brien, the Braves will pay none of Javy's 11.5 million this year. So, one would think that this would allow some payroll flexibility to go after a first baseman at this point. Assuming the budget for the 2010 payroll is similar to 2009 at 95 million, here is where the team stands as of now.

Lowe - 15
Chipper - 13
Hudson - 9
Kawakami - 6.67
Wagner - 6.75
McCann - 5.5
McLouth - 4.5
Saito - 3.2
Diaz - 2.55
Infante - 2.25
Ross - 1.6


Cabrera - 2.5
Moylan .75
Jurrjens - .5
Escobar - .5
Prado - .5
Medlen - .5
O'Flaherty - .5
Hernandez - .5
Hanson - .5
Chavez - .5
Dunn - .5
Thurston - .5
Heyward - .5

That comes out to about 78 million, so there appears to be some room to maneuver before spring training. But what I still can't figure out the reason for this salary dump. Now, the starting rotation, bullpen, outfield, catcher, SS, 3B, 2B, UI, all are set. The only position of need is first base and there are not any better alternatives than simply bringing back LaRoche at a 3 year deal worth about 25-30 million. But, if that is the case, why not trade Lowe and eat some of the contract and still be at your 95 million dollar budget and still have Vazquez?

I find it hard to imagine that Wren will just sign LaRoche, have a payroll of about 85-87 million, and not use all of his available funds. Hopefully, the payroll flexibility created with this trade will allow the Braves to take on a contract of a good player without giving up much. Or, allow for a mid-season acquisition of some sort.

As of now, here is where the team stands...

SP - Hudson
SP - Jurrjens
SP - Hanson
SP - Lowe
SP - Kawakami

RP - Saito
RP - Chavez
RP - Dunn
RP - O'Flaherty
RP - Moylan
RP - Medlen
CL - Wagner

C - McCann
C - Ross
1B - N/A
2B - Prado
SS - Escobar
3B - Jones
UI - Thurston
UI - Infante
UI - Hernandez
OF - McLouth
OF - Cabrera
OF - Diaz
OF - Heyward

I do not think this is a playoff team at this point even with LaRoche. Lets get to work, Frankie Boy...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Back in the swing of things...

A lot has happened in the 2 weeks since I last wrote on here. The Falcons season came crashing down with several injuries, including a couple to key skill position players. But, that's the curse of the Falcons. Matt Ryan is 12-1 as a starter at home and the Birds have 2 home games to get to 8-5 and he can't play in either game. That kind of timing is why the back-to-back winning seasons may continue...

As for the Falcons getting back on the right track, it is going to start on defense. The offense could maybe use another lineman and a #2 receiver, but most spots appear pretty solid. The defense has to upgrade the secondary in the off-season. It may be an uncapped year and Art opens up the checkbook, or TD drafts players for the secondary. I will go ahead and go on record that I think Joe Haden and Javier Arenas would be excellent additions. I am not sure what the consensus will be for those players as far as draft position, but I say take either in the teens.

I am very excited at the moves Frank Wren has made with the Braves. Not just the bullpen additions (Wagner, Saito, Chavez), but the speculation that he is actively trying to trade Derek Lowe. I say wait for Lackey to sign, then trade with one of the teams that tried to sign him and failed. I think Wren may even be able to get a team to pay all of Lowe's contract. Even if Braves have to pay a portion, I still think they will have enough money to sign LaRoche and Marlon Byrd. The Soriano situation worked out beautifully, with Chavez being better than potential draft picks. He throws gas and can be a solid guy in the 6th-7th innings along with Moylan.

I don't know when it is going to happen - it may be in 5 months or 5 years, but at some point Lane Kiffen is going down in flames - and it is going to be real ugly. I can't wait...

Looks like the UGA defensive coordinator search is heating up. Kirby Smart was seen in the Butts-Mehre building Friday, but Tony Barnhart says Bama is going to offer 900K to Smart to stay in Tuscaloosa. I don't think UGA will pay 900K, especially when the OC only makes 325K. Vic Koenning is also rumored to be in the mix. He is at Kansas State, but has ties to the southeast and hasn't even moved his family from South Carolina since signing on at K-State.

Other guys like Brian VanGorder and Bud Foster may still be in the mix, but I don't think they are viable candidates. VanGorder has stated that he is not interested in the position and Foster has been with Beamer since 1981.

Hope the Hawks finish 2009 off strong with their next 9 games. They have a chance with the way their schedule sets up to finish the year 7-2 which would put them at 23-8 and in a good position to make a push for a top 3 spot in the East. If they can avoid injuries, I see this team winning 52-55 games and possibly making the Eastern Conference Finals for the 1st time in franchise history.

Finally, I have seen several college hoops teams this year and I think I can give a pretty good top 10 for the season so far. I haven't seen West Virginia, so they won't be listed.

1. Kansas
2. Syracuse
3. Kentucky
4. Villanova
5. Texas
6. Purdue
7. Georgetown
8. UNC
9. Duke
10. UConn