Did Griffey do the Braves a favor?

While writing the early version of the story about Garret Anderson and the Braves agreeing to the terms of his one-year, $2.5 million contract, I didn’t exactly have a firm opinion about whether or not he’d be a better fit than Griffey would’ve been. 

But after talking to some of the Braves and doing some more research before updating my original story, I gained the belief that Braves general manager Frank Wren might want to send a thank you note to Griffey and his agent Brian Goldberg.

When one of my respected colleagues opined  that Anderson is “the most underrated player of his generation to me," I certainly took notice. 

But such a compliment wasn't going to completely sway somebody who believes Griffey was the most purely talented player of this generation.  (Obviously raw stats aren't the only components I used to gain this opinion.)

So while attempting to evaluate the current talents of two former superstars who are past their primes, I have to give the nod to Anderson, who is 2 1/2 years younger, undoubtedly the better defensive option,  and a player whose offensive capabilities provide the Braves the opportunity to place an experienced and proven bat in left field on a regular basis.  

The fact that Griffey would have been platooning at least provides reason to wonder what kind of production Matt Diaz would have provided during those days when he was playing left field.  During his first two years with the Braves, he devoured left-handed pitchers.  But before he injured his knee in late May of last year, he created reason to wonder if he could rekindle the magic he experienced in 2006 an 2007, when he combined to hit .333 with 19 homers and an .856 OPS.

Looking solely at the statistics he might have produced while batting solely against right-handed pitchers, you could argue that Griffey would have provided more power.   But in doing so, you have to assume that he’s regained all his strength in his surgically-repaired right knee.

Assuming Griffey was at optimal strength, you might project that he and Matt Diaz could have combined for 25-30 homers while serving in a platoon role in left.   But the “if” that accompanies this argument seems to provide a greater variable than the certainty Anderson has shown through his consistent production he’s provided since ending his days as a legitimate power hitter.

Anderson  hit .293 with a .774 OPS against right-handed pitchers last year and .290 with a .704 OPS against left-handers.Over the past three seasons, he’s hit .295 with a .799 OPS against right-handers and .272 with a .713 OPS against southpaws.

When the Braves are facing a tough left-hander or Anderson needs a day off, Cox may choose to play Diaz, who has hit .328 with a .508 slugging percentage against them in his career.

But for the most part  I think you’ll see Anderson in left and he’s told friends he’s looking forward to the opportunity to play 120-130 games in the outfield this year.  This workload would  provide  Diaz the opportunity to be more than simply a valuable bat off the bench.

Anderson obviously isn’t the great player that he was at the beginning of this decade.  But because he still has the ability to give the Braves an experienced and proven presence in left field on a regular basis, I’ve gained the opinion that he’s better than any other options Wren has explored over the course of the past week.

– Mark Bowman


I like Griffey going back to Seattle. There is something comforting knowing that he will retire a Mariner.


I guess this’ll work. I thought Anderson was terrible but from wat was said here it sounds like he could be a tremendous asset to us. Go Braves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kawakami showed up at the stadium around 8 a.m. this morning thinking the physicals were taking place there. When Cox told them they were approximately 20 minutes away, an interpreter relayed that the Japanese hurler didn’t have much gas in his car.
When Cox asked how much, the interpreter said, “We approximate we have 18 miles.” With this, the skipper laughed, reached in his desk and threw Kawakami his car keys.

Sorry that previous comment came up with the attribution to udflyers96 again. After yesterday’s loss to St. Louis, you’d think I’d have made sure not to make that mistake this weekend. While we’re on the topic of college athletics, did you hear how impressive Pat White was at this weekend’s combine? He’s by far my favorite college athlete EVER.

I think Anderson is a great player and hope that he does well for the Braves. The key for him will be for the opportunity to show that he still can hold his own. Hopefully the Braves give him this chance.


joejoe, after not showing up in April or May, Edmonds hit .319 with six homers and a 1.085 OPS in June. During the season’s final three months he hit .233 with 12 homers and a .926 OPS. In the 34 games he played in August and September, he hit .221 with seven homers and a .901 OPS. Because of his futility against left-handers, he got just 27 at-bats against left-handers in the season’s final three months.
The fact that the Braves never showed much interest in him provides further indication that their primary interest was to find somebody who could provide consistency against both LHP/RHPs and play LF on a regular basis. I never got a sense that all members of management were completely comfortable with the platoon arrangement that Griffey would have created. But when you have the opportunity to gain such a figure, who certainly could have aided attendance during these uncertain economic time, you sometimes are persuaded to take a gamble that contradicts your initial plans.

I like the signing but only if he(Anderson) is being brought into play 125 or so games in LF and bat in the #6 spot.

He in no way is a cleanup hitter and is not a good candidate to provide protection for Chipper.

Now if he’s going to play almost daily and bat behind McCann in the #6 spot then I really like the signing. I agree with Bowman that he has the chance to be a much better signing than Griffey.

As for giving Anderson some time off and an occassional break against tought lefties I for one would rather see those AB’s go to Prado or Infante than Diaz.

Diaz(IMO) is not a good fit as a #4 OF because of the glove limitations.

I still would prefer something along these lines of a batting order.


As for bench makeup I would go as far as saying I would prefer that Diaz gets moved and Diory Hernandez stays so both Prado and Infante are freed up to be used at any time both in the Infield or Outfield without worrying about having someone on the bench capable of playing the Middle infield spots late in a game.

Or Wren could fine tune the bench and get a righty bat capable of playing all 3 spots in the outfield.

Not a knock on Diaz but he is a poor fit as a 4th OF on this particular team.

As a die-hard Braves fan as well as a Junior fan since childhood, I can say that I’m glad that Griffey went back to Seattle. It’s where he belongs, like **cough** Smoltz in Atlanta.

Much as I liked the thought, I don’t think I would have ever felt like Jr. really belonged with us.

I think the Anderson signing is growing on me. Bobby likes to keep so many pitchers that he really can’t afford to keep many position players that can only hit against RHP or LHP. Now he doesn’t have to make a move every time the other team turns our hitters around in the late innings. Prado and Infante are the kind or versatile players Bobby has to have in his type roster. Diaz is just a hitting machine, but he will have to prove himself all over again this spring. He and Norton are the only two that really are limited to facing pitching from one side or the other. Brandon Jones and Gregor Blanco are bumming this morning for sure. Schafer is non roster anyway so it’s business as usual for him.

Dave, I like the line up. Diory could make it interesting if he has a big spring. Diaz is sort of the odd man out in a Bobby Cox roster. But man that’s a lot of middle infielder bats again. There needs to be at least one guy that comes off the bench to make the other team at least consider the possibility the ball will be driven, somewhere. Norton does a good job of that I guess. The waiver wire certainly looms in the future for a bunch of players around the league this season, so there will probably be options if Frank and Bobby aren’t comfortable yet. With legit starting pitching, do we really need 13 pitchers?

Does anyone feel for Matt Diaz at all? I mean what more does a guy have to do to prove worthy of any everyday role..? or at least a platoon? I am excited about the Anderson deal… but man, Diaz is a class guy. Very unselfish and very clutch. In his three previous seasons before his injury last year, he hit a combined .315. That’s factoring in his .280 season his last year with the Royals. With the Braves he has hit a combined .332. He is not that much of a liability in the outfield. The only thing he lacks is consistent power. Since he’s an outfielder, that’s the only thing people seem to look for. I guarantee you that a second basemen that put up those numbers would start everyday. He’s a tough out and puts the ball in play almost every time. In nearly 950 at bats, he has only struck out 168 times on his career. He plays hard all the time (see the replay of how he hurt his knee last season). I like a guy like him coming off the bench… but at the same time I think he has proven himself worthy of an every day role. Because of the guy he his, he will accept his new role with honor and he will play his best… but he’s got to be asking himself what more needs to be done to earn an everyday job. Anyone with me here?

Agreed rother but I’m becoming somewhat convinced that Prado scares oppossing managers more than Diaz as a bat off the bench.

In a perfect world the 5 man bench would consist of
Norton-Switch hitter and #1 PH
Infante-Everywhere except Catcher
5th spot- a utility guy skilled enough to play CF and SS and preferably a lefty bat off the bench. Unfortunately those types don’t grown on trees.

How could you leave Diaz off of that list?

Agreed bravomania, Diaz is a “Class Act” all the way around.

His only drawback IMO is with the way the bench is constructed in the NL it’s hard to carry a one position bat off the bench. Though in Diaz;s favor is the fact that he can be the #3 emergency catcher along iwth playing LF.

I really think Diaz’s game would be better suited to the AL with being able to DH along with playing LF and being an emergency Catcher type.

Like I said not knocking Diaz at all bravomania, if he’s there I will cheer like hades for him daily.

His inability to play more than LF or a emergency Catcher hurts on this particular five man bench.

good fit!!!we needed outfield help diaz has good upside he is not everyday ready!will be shocked if he doesn`t get traded.i read another fan say they thought anderson was terrible advice before you make stupid comments do your homework. the guy can flat out swing it!!!hopefuuly francour will pull his head out of ***!!! and hit the ball this year and chipper wll stay healthy,we could be snicky good.we will see how it works out good luck and go braves!!!!!!glad to see bobby cox back for another by the way!!!

So true, but this is ATL, so that left handed utility guy who can play CF and SS will be a lefthanded relief pitcher who can’t face 3 batters in a row.

Infante is the guy who makes it all possible. Prado has grown into being a big factor. I agree he has trumped Diaz. Diaz is just another of the million guys who have A MLB caliber skill, but not enough to play in the NL. He is the ultimate 13 or 14th guy luxury for an AL team now. Sad but true. HE really hurt himself last year when he swung at everything against the RHP and became exposed. All Prado did was one hop the fence in right center field consistently. I like that a lot.

True. He is not extremely versatile defensively, but very rarely are pinch hitters brought into a game for their defensive ability. Pinch hitters are called upon in much needed clutch situations to get on base or drive in a go ahead run, or to bat for a pitcher they will be substituting for. I guarantee you Bobby is not thinking about what this guy will do for me defensively when he is bringing a pinch hitter into the game. There are few more clutch than Diaz, in my opinion. He is a tough out. He rarely strikes out and consistently makes contact. He hits the ball all over the field. Norton has more power, but I can’t count the number of times he came up to the plate last season in game-deciding situations and struck out. Diaz is an instrumental part of this team and will not be left off of any roster.

I will never talk bad about Diaz. He is a class guy and all you could ask for. That will be a VERY hard choice at the end of March.

Mark I’d love to hear your thoughts in this little debate. What’s your take on Diaz?

I’m getting the impression the Braves are going to swing a deal or two for A or AA level Left handed starters, using the odd guys out in the outfield battle and the excess right handed relievers and AAA starters as bait. IMHO most of the guys who go to Gwinnett this summer won’t ever be Atlanta Braves, with the exception of Hanson, Schafer, Diory Hernandez and maybe one other starting pitcher. The rest will be moved on over time. Heyward and Freeman won’t be in Gwinnett yet.

I like Diaz as stated earlier bravomania, I just like Prado’s bat better at both, spelling Anderson occassionally and in a strict pinch hitter role off the bench.

We all know that Ross is there as the BUC, Infante and Prado are there as key Utility types that can fill in in various spots across the diamond and Norton is there as the #1 pinch hitting option late in games particularily against righties as most closers tend to be.

I agree with rother above I would prefer Diaz as a 14th position player and go with 11 pitchers but we all know that is not a possibility.

So is this where we are so far?

G Anderson
C Jones

Then 13 pitchers including


There’s not a lot of wiggle in the roster anymore is there?

I like Anderson, but I think I would’ve rather seen Kelly in left and Prado at second. Martin needs to be playing everyday.

I agree. That’s why I kept saying there is really a negligible difference is numbers by adding the veteran stick. But I guess for $2.5 million, Anderson was just too good of a bargain to pass up.

If Schafer is lights out and proves he’s ready to be an impact guy now, the end of ST scramble will be fun to watch. The Braves will have to move somebody. Sitting on guys for Super 2 reasons when they are ready is bad business. It could get very interesting. We are better than the naybobs will admit to. We went north with Francoeur, Kotsay, Diaz last year and nobody was wringing their hands. This group is better than that group.

rother BC usually carries 12 pitchers coming out of camp.

You won’t see 13 unless there is a spte of injuries.

With that being said and Glavine not needed until the 19th of April my early guess at the 12 man staff that breaks camp would be as follows:


Final spot between Logan,& O’Flaherty or possibly some camp surprize..

The real decision will be the move when Glavine gets ready to assume the #5 spot and another reliever will have to be moved in some capacity.

Let’s not forget that Diaz signed a 1 year contract in January. He will not be left off of the roster.

The guess of the staff above of course assumes good health by both Soriano and Moylan.

Casey Kotchman is thrilled about the Anderson signing and he told me this morning that his good friend is physically capable of playing at least 120-130 games in the outfield this year. He hasn’t done so the past few years because the Angels had an abundance of outfielders and the luxury of keeping Anderson’s bat in the lineup as a DH. With this being said, I still believe Diaz still brings value to this team as somebody who can occasionally play left and bring some versatility off the bench. He had comparable success against LHPs and RHPs during the 2007 season. Norton’s strengths rest solely against LHP.
Prado is simply a great piece to have. I’d have to agree that he could be the club’s most valuable bench player this year because of his bat and the improved defense that he’s shown at 2B and 3B.
You can certainly find some flaws in the makeup of this roster and when you look close you realize just how important it will be for Jeff Francoeur to be consistently productive during the 150-plus games that he’ll have to play. Infante provides the bench some defensive versatility. But as you guys have pointed out the bench could be improved with some added diversity.

Plenty of options for Wren where Diaz is concerned.

I would say a lot of it depens on how healthy G.Anderson is and how much they envision playing him, if he(Anderson) is completely healthy and going to play daily that could spell trouble for Diaz.

David, speaking of Soriano, he just completed his first live batting practices session of the year and from what I could tell his arm stayed in tact and he wasn’t too bothered by that nagging cough that had been keeping him off the mound. But enough about him. He knows his contract situation and thus I’m sure he’ll be ready to pitch when April arrives.
Kawakami also threw another live BP session today. He worked solely from the stretch and one thing that stood out to me was his slow delivery to the plate. He slightly raises his arms as he begins his stride toward the plate, seemingly providing an opportunity for opponents to get better breaks while attempting swipe a base. This might be another adjustment he has to make over the next few weeks.

I forgot about the early season make up being different. I have a feeling if Moylan, Acosta, and Soriano are all healthy that Soriano is going to get moved. I also can’t see any camp surprise keeping one of the new lefties off the roster. Bobby would be hamstrung without the “one batter” guys he has gotten so used to. They both have power arms that can go a full inning of RH and LH hitters.
With 13 position players there will be one spot to play with. Is that how you have Diory getting in? I don’t think Schafer will be up unless they are ready to start him for real.

Having G Anderson also gives Kotchman a comfort zone that I hadn’t thought about. He is more likely to have a good start with a familiar face around. Garrett can keep him within himself where the rest of the guys just haven’t known him long enough to have that talk with him. GA will make Kotchman 10 points better than he would have been without him here.

I wonder what will happen to the frisbie game they have during early warm ups if the bull pen gets much more different than it was. Buddy was a big part of that. We enjoyed watching them chuck the frisbie into the stands during our pregame staff meetings. The lefties will have reverse spin on the disks and may be shunned by the regulars. So much for clubhouse unity, LOL.

Anderson is a good bang for the buck. He’ll have more hits per $ than Griffey or that other as yet unsigned r.h. l.f. with the dreads.
The baseball gods owe us one after last year so give Anderson anything above .290/20/80, Francouer a repeat ’06-’07, good fortune to the new SPs and CL, and we will be pressing for the playoffs.

If Manny signs for under $20 million, he is going to be the biggest nightmare ever to beset which ever team it is that thinks they got a bargain. He will NEVER play hard for a pay cut. I’m praying the Yankees add him to give the press something besides AROID to talk about. If they do, they win maybe 85 games this year, maybe. And Girardi and his successor both get fired during the season. Sounds to good to be true, so it won’t happen.

Good to hear that Soriano threw today.

Best case scenario for Braves, is that Soriano can log 30+ healthy appearnces with no problems answering the bell in the first half of the season.

Then,if that happens and we can get effective performances from Soriano plus needed rest for Acosta,Boyer and Moylan we may very well have a marketable asset.

Then in July when 20+ teams are scrambling for pen help Soriano could be put on the market, he(Soriano) would have far more value after a strong half season performance plus the salary requirements would be half or less by then.

If everyone is healthy in that scenario a Gonzo,Moylan,Acosta,Boyer pen could still be top notch plus make Soriano a talent acquiring asset to boot.

Still a long time to go and plenty of pieces that have to fall in place exactly and we all know that hardly ever happens.

Here’s hoping that the pen can remain healthy, if that happens it could really be a top notch crew. One of the best in the NL.

A pen like that with a 90+% chance of a quality start each night and this team could really be interesting. The defense alone will pull 0.50 to a full point off of Vasquez’s ERA this season. Chicago didn’t cover much ground the last few seasons, infield or outfield. Now when he makes the pitch he’ll get the out. I’m impressed with the number of sinker ballers we have now. The staff will work well in the little parks like Philly. Then when the power arms come in late in the games everyone will be swinging under the ball and popping up. It’s a nice combo to go to battle with.

Mark — I couldn’t agree with you more. I almost feel like this season’s success could rest solely on Jeff Franceour. I know that sounds outlandish, but if he has a break-out year offensively, it will ignite the team and the whole city. He has A LOT resting on his shoulders. We simply do not have the offensive back-up supply if he becomes a liability. He’s such a likable guy and EVERYONE is pulling for him. I really can’t emphasize enough how important it is he has a good year. I also agree with you on Diaz. He is simply too much of an asset to not keep him on the roster.

Jeff can’t drag the team down by himself, but he sure could take it to another level given his personality. Once he gets over the hump and settles in to who he is, look out below.

We need to remember that Dale Murphy hit less than Francoeur did last year in over 25% of his seasons with the Braves. He never had to deal with the hatred that Jeff got from the stands last season. It was absolutely brutal at times.

Ultimately it will be Francoeur not McCann that takes over the leadership role from Chipper, whether we want that to be true or not. If he can’t, the Braves will have to go elsewhere to find it. Jeff has it in him for sure.

Couldn’t agree more Rother. The place will blow up if he has a big year. No doubt! We’re all pulling for him. It’s too bad he was treated the way he was last year. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that everyone knew what his problems were and everyone could point out the holes in his swing… he simply did not adjust at all last year and I think TP has to shoulder some of that blame. The Murphy comparison is a good one, but that was a time when not a lot was going on and 2,500 people were showing up to Fulton County Stadium. There wasn’t a lot to cheer for and Murphy’s MVP years were it. Murph was the “Golden Boy” back then. Frenchy is the new one. I think we’re all dying to have him back and better than ever!

I totally agree with you. Canns doesn’t seem like a team leader, and there aren’t any other home grown team leaders and I’m pretty sure that Jordan Schafer will never be that person. Chipper has at least 3 years left in him and with him goes the legacy of the Braves’ dominance in the 90s/early 00s.

I live out in Gwinnett and the legend lives out here. He has had that burden for a very long time and his shoulders are most certainly broad enough. I think he tried too hard and made too many changes last season, getting pulled in all sorts of directions and coming up with the bases loaded so darn often. It was the perfect storm to keep him down. A good start this season and its all in the rear view mirror. His intangibles are off the charts. Chipper knows better than anybody, and will tell you Jeff is still the guy. Some guys just have that something extra. Teixeira fills a stat sheet like no other but he will NEVER lead a team anywhere. Neither will ARod. They will figure that out about June or so in NY.

Cox was very impressed with the velocity Soriano showed in the bullpen and during his live BP session. All signs are that the elbow is healthy. Unfortunately, Charlie Morton now has some health concerns courtesy of a potential oblique strain that he suffered this morning. Before feeling a pain in his side, the young right-hander impressed his manager with a solid bullpen session.

What do you think the odds are Bobby Cox can keep Tommy Hanson away from the Phillies and Mets this spring completely? If he is gathering momentum the less those teams see the better, even if he is destined for Gwinnett in April. It’s much more fun for the legend to grow “in abstentia”. Mystery is a wonderful thing.

Rother — I see what you’re saying. But wouldn’t it also be beneficial for Hanson to start facing those guys and working his own charts against their hitters? As a former pitcher, I’d say there is comfort in knowing who you’re throwing to as opposed to going in blind… even if they’ve had past success.

It works both ways, but right now the Tommy Hanson phenomenon is growing and the longer he goes being heard about without being seen the better the psych job. The Braves have enough film on the Phillies hitters to keep Hanson from ever guessing what to do. It is just more fun to have the scouts building the legend and mystique about the guy. I’m trying to remember that last guy around here that got this type of hype. Maybe Jason Schmidt. Kyle Davies was never near this good. Neither were Smoltz or Glavine to be honest. There were AAA All Stars in Arizona quoted as saying that they were just glad to get the ball in play against Hanson. That’s Doc Gooden stuff right there. I hope he continues on and debutes against the Padres and Jake Peavy. ESPN might even preempt their Yankees/Red Sox babble for a couple minutes to cover that. Did you see ESPN has the Thursday game this week where Tommy is slated to pitch. This could really be fun while it lasts.

Really? Had no idea. I’ll be sure to tivo that! Davies didn’t have nearly the hype of Hanson… but Kyle wasn’t as dominating of a presence either. I played at Stockbridge with Kyle in Henry County. I was a senior his junior year. We had every major league team represented at every game he pitched. I was surprised to see that he was drafted as high as the 4th round when he graduated. He threw hard and had great control… but I had a feeling major league hitters would catch up to him. I’m pulling for him at KC. I really think that injury was much to blame for the bad year he had before we traded him.

Vivabeta, I have to disagree with your assessment about McCann’s leadership abilities. In a quiet and unassuming way, he shows leadership. Many members of the Braves front office view him, Chipper and Hudson as the team’s leaders. He has an infectious passion for the game and the organization. His early credentials provide him the right to be a leader and his actions will allow him to be one.

Most of us have Campillo projected to start the season in the bullpen. But to ensure he’s ready to serve as a starter if an injury arises, would it be better to use Carlyle as Atlanta’s long reliever and allow Campillo to keep his arm stretched out while pitching in Gwinnett’s rotation? Based on what Campillo did last year, this might not seem fair. But if you’re in the business of winning, can you also be in the business of being fair all of the time?

Rother, if Hanson stays on his current schedule his third start would come against the Phillies and his fourth start would come in Port St. Lucie against the Mets. But his current schedule may be adjusted once Tom Glavine arrives and when Campillo and Vazquez return from the WBC. He and Campillo have been slated to pitch on the same days.

Mark–I was wasn’t implying that McCann isn’t a team leader. I was just talking about who would be THE leader of the team, as Chipper is now. I would never question Brian’s passion or dedication, and has obviously proved that he is the best catcher in the NL.

There really is no room for fair in baseball. Ask Wally Pip. If Campillo still has options, he may well end up in Gwinnett. But, if Tommy Hanson turns out to be what it really sounds and looks like he is going to be, Campillo won’t be needing to be stretched out as the 7th option. Give him a role and let him get used to it. An MLB paycheck is worth the time in the pen.

I’m planning on attending Sunday night. I’m very excited Tommy Hanson is scheduled to start! Anyone going to be there? I live in Jacksonville – 2 hr drive to Disney. Very lucky this time of year.


You are an amazing writer but to say that McCann has an infectious passion is a bit much don’t you think? Also, Pat White has no chance.

bravo: If you’re talking about the March 8 game against the Phillies, it starts at 1:05 p.m. ET. Since you’d said Sunday night, I just wanted to make sure you knew this.

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