Hudson talking and Heyward is limping

As the Phillies prepare to play in something called the World Series, the Braves are taking advantage of the opportunity to get a leg up on their division rivals by planning for the 2010 season. 

Considering that Tuesday will mark the 10th anniversary of the most recent World Series game that included the Braves, there’s obviously reason to write such ridiculous openings in attempt to create some sense of October optimism in Atlanta.  

OK. Before I ramble on too long and kill the journalistic lessons that I once learned, I’ll let you know about some recent news involving Tim Hudson and Jason Heyward. 

Braves general manager Frank Wren and Paul Cohen have started negotiating the contract extension that could keep Hudson in Atlanta.  The two parties spoke on Friday and they’re expected to resume talking on Monday. 

Like Jimmy Buffett, come Monday, Heyward is hoping that he will be alright.   The highly-regarded outfielder has been dealing with a strained gluteus muscle that has prevented him from playing in the Arizona Fall League since Oct. 17.

The Braves remain hopeful that Heyward is simply dealing with a minor injury that will allow him to resume playing with the Peoria Saguaros within the next couple of days.

There doesn’t seem to be much reason to believe that Heyward is dealing with a significant injury.  But the lost playing time certainly lessens the development that would benefit him if the Braves do decide to have him start the 2010 season as their starting right fielder.

I’ve written that it doesn’t seem logical to believe that Heyward could start next year in the Majors.  But as time passes, there’s growing reason to believe that the Braves are certainly open to this possibility.

A more concerning development from the AFL stems from the early struggles encountered by Freddie Freeman.   Before recording a pair of hits in five at-bats (through eight innings) on Friday, the 20-year-old first baseman had gone 1-for-19 with nine strikeouts.

Now back to Hudson.  My guess is that the two parties could reach an agreement within the next week.  My guess is that the 34-year-old right-hander will agree to a three-year extension worth approximately $27 million and also gain an option for the 2013 season.      

If the deal with Hudson is secured, we’ll likely start hearing more about the possibility of moving either Derek Lowe or Kenshin Kawakami. 

There are two ways to look at Lowe’s situation.  Given that he’s owed $45 million over the next three years, there aren’t going to be a lot of clubs lining up to add him to their rotation.  Still, there seems to be some hope that the Red Sox, Yankees or Mets might be willing to deal for him as long as the Braves eat a portion of his salary. 

On the flip side, can the Braves responsibly deal Lowe with the the knowledge that they would gain a limited return in talent and still have to incur some of his cost? 

Lowe will be the first to tell you that he was disappointed with the fact that he went 15-10 with a 4.67 ERA this past season.   What he won’t discuss are the intangibles that he brought to a club that needed a proven veteran to serve as the leader of its reconstructed rotation.

As September was nearing its end, an American League scout said that he didn’t believe that Javier Vazquez would have been as successful had he started this past season bearing the responsibility of being the staff’s ace?   Another National League scout recently voice this same opinion.

My rebuttal to this argument would be that Vazquez could return next year and once again not have to feel like he had to carry the load for the rotation.  Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson are going to be front-line starters for many years to come and could easily prove to be an “ace” as early as the 2010 season.

Plus, I think that Vazquez proved that he does have the makeup to be a leader.  He was as responsible as anybody for the enhanced maturity that Yunel Escobar showed during the final months of this past season.   

Repeating is an accomplishment:  While dodging champagne and  getting interviews after the National League Championship Series concluded Wednesday, I heard many of the Phillies talk about how hard it had been to go through this season as defending world champions.

This got me to thinking whether Braves fans truly appreciate what their clubs accomplished during the 1990s. 

This year’s Phillies stand as the first NL club since the 1996 Braves to return to the World Series.   They now have the chance to be the first NL club since the 1976 Reds to repeat as world champions.  

The Dodgers advanced to the World Series in 1977 and ’78.  But since then, the Phillies and Braves (1991 and ’92; 1995 and ’96) stand as the only NL organizations who have competed in the World Series in consecutive seasons. 

Thank You:   When we returned to the press box earlier this week, it was learned that this forum had been the most-visited among the blogs authored by MLB.com writers throughout the regular season.  

This prompted a witty response from Phillies beat writer, Todd Zolecki, whose Zo Zone finished second. To which I responded, “Don’t you think you guys in Philadelphia have won enough recently?”

But seriously, thanks for the regular contributions that you all have made throughout the year and let’s keep this site busy throughout the offseason. 

12 Comments

The current developments concerning the future of this team is interesting indeed. Resigning Tim Hudson is almost a no-brainer, the guy is an Ace. But the reversal of course concerning Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami is troubling at best. Less than one year ago the entire fan base was congratulating themselves over the rebuilt pitching staff, and now the Braves find themselves in the position of having to trade part the same great pitching staff of 2009.

Not to mention the impending free agency of Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez and Adam LaRoche. How do they fit into the budget?

I then have to question the judgment of our current management. Frank Wren did well to build around pitching but not so good when it comes to the way he spent the limited amount of funds when considering corporate ownership, and a limited budget. Chippers 13 million dollar extension coupled with the 34 million doled out to Lowe, Vazquez and Kawakami totaled up to 47 million.

That’s roughly half of the teams total budget spent on four players, one of which now has to be traded less than one year later. Basically, the course of actions taken by the Braves upper management lends itself to a great deal of second guessing.

What would it take to get Billy Butler (Would Medlen-Schafer-Hernandez do it) What about Jake Fox ( Would Johnson & Acosta do it) We need some young right handed hitters with some pop

Something I’ve been wondering about, has there been any word on who is going to be the new TV announcer for the Braves next year? I was really happy when we had gotten Boog and Joe in the booth and gotten rid of the two guys who I had never heard of doing the commentary during the 06 season. Bob Rathbun was one of them I think. But they sucked. Is there someone in particular you guys would want to have calling the Braves games on TV next year? Im pretty sure it won’t be Chip Caray because of his deal with TBS and Peachtree although Ive been hearing he’s been catching a lot of flak lately and I don’t know why. I hope we keep Joe up there. He was my third fav announcer after Skip and Pete.

And not to beat a dead horse, but there are two other things that been bothering me. 1, Do we have any idea yet what has happened to those two or three umpires who we had a great deal of cause to hope for disciplinary action for (cohn)? The fist bump for example in FL. After all, they reported that a bunch of SEC football umpiring crew got suspended for the calls they had made and was wondering about the umpires who seemed to have had a vendetta against the Braves with some of their calls.

2, and this is pure conjecture on my part but did it seem odd to anybody else that Raul Ibanez’s HR numbers dropped dramatically after the “Is he doing ‘roids?” internet blog popped up? It kinda makes ya think that MLB must have tested him right at the time of the blog, he tried to detox the roids and his numbers dipped. Or was it just incredibly good luck that the beginning month of the season he was popping balls like Bonds was? I bring this up because of the two teams now going to the World Series. I love baseball but I can’t stand to watch the Yankees and their endless payroll and what seems to be the ‘New Yankees’ Philles. I’ve got no one to root for. All the more reason just before each game of the WS I think MLB needs to do a mandatory test for ‘roids before each game. Hell, with these two slugging teams, perhaps after each game as well.

Mark, any word or help on this?

Here’s my thought on everyone’s comments,
bbraves1st, Frank has done a tremendous job as GM, certainly a top candidate for “Executive of the Year.” I suspect Rafael to walk and the Braves claim two draft picks, Gonzo signs in Arby, and LaRoche signs for 3/22.
74years, Medlen alone would be enough to get Butler. While Butler has a excellent SLG%, his defense sucks, strikes out a lot and he hardly walks. Fox has the same story, that man is a future DH.

jimphelps, I think Chip will be at least offered the job. The Phillies – Yanks WS sickens me too. And your right, I sincerely hope, from the bottom of my heart, that Bill Hohn burns in a fiery car crash and can’t get his seat belt off… (and dies)Harsh, I know, but that man is awful.

If the Braves managed to trade Medlen straight up for Billy Butler, I’m pretty sure the Royals would get laughed right out of Major League Baseball. I don’t mean that as a slight to Medlen, but right now, Butler’s value as a run producer (he was second in all of baseball with 51 doubles, batted .301, and drove in 93 runs for a team whose OBP was tied for third-worst at .318) far exceeds that of a young pitcher who has yet to settle into a defined role, let alone conclusively prove himself over the course of a season. Oh, and did I mention that Butler is still only 22 years old? I’d be rather surprised if the Royals weren’t seriously considering working out an extension for him.

The only way I could seriously see the Braves trading Derek Lowe at this point would be if they were to take on the contract of another overpriced player, say, a Magglio Ordonez, Vernon Wells or maybe even Michael Young. Mind you, this is simply conjecture on my part. But it would take care of the logjam in the starting rotation as well as addressing a need in the lineup, even in spite of taking on another bulky contract. Of course, I’m sure there’d be significant work done to address some of the financial obligations. But I seriously doubt the Braves would be willing to deal away a potential 1 or 2 guy for a couple of prospects.

Just a thought: If the Braves don’t re-sign Adam Laroche (which, light of Freeman’s struggles for most of this season, is becoming increasingly relevant), a potential replacement might be Jorge Cantu. After all, the Marlins would like to move him, and he does have a right-handed bat with some pop. If anything, as much as I’d hate to say it, I would think the Marlins would love to take on Kelly Johnson as Uggla’s replacement if they don’t move Coghlan back to second. I still think trading KJ right now would be premature, because he does still have a lot of potential. (Then again, I’d hate to get stuck with another Francoeur.) However, I think the teams do match up nicely, even if it is within the division.

So, as far as Jason Heyward is concerned, the Arizona Fall League was just a big pain in the a——-.

If Vazquez really does need to operate in the shadows to be successful, Lowe, Hudson, and Hanson should provide plenty. My take is that he has never felt like more than a rental anywhere he has been, and that Atlanta for some reason has been a goal for him over the years. A relaxed Vazquez was amazing to watch. Even Derek Lowe in 2010 won’t be the guy who gets the microphone every day with Hudson and Hanson around. The “Ace” question in Atlanta, with the rotation they have now, is one of the more irrelevant conversations out there.

I do believe the Braves will have to go out of budget to get the bat, and that signing 1 year free agents is the way to go versus taking on a 2006-2007 size contract unnecessarily. I’m looking towards Tampa for the help we need. They have a number of options that fit really well here in Atlanta, Crawford, Upton, Zobrist.

jimphelps The old “roid” thing again. I guess simple minds look for simple answers. If you bothered to follow baseball you would know that Ibanez has had an abdominal muscle tear since before the Allstar break.

I do follow baseball, but I don’t read every article that deals with every single team. I follow the Braves and I’m not a stat-head like PWH or Jurrjens4NLCY. Besides, even with that tear, I still think my theory holds water.

Well, if you don’t follow baseball except the Braves where did you come across this crap about Ibanez? But I get it. That’s your story and your sticking to it. It can not be because another player, team or organization is better. It has to be about luck, injury or drugs.

Like I said, I don’t read EVERY article, but I do follow baseball. I didn’t say it couldn’t be that another team, player or organization is better than my team. I was merely hypothesizing as to the drop. You may follow the game more seriously than I do and can tell me every stat you can rattle or fact or report from the entire league for 2 decades or the last hundred years. Good for you and congratulations, I salute your superior baseball knowledge.

My theory may not be a cup, but again, I think there’s something to it. Dismiss it if you will, I don’t care.

The conversation for Billy Butler starts with one of Jurrjens, Escobar, Schafer, Heyward, or Hanson. No less. He’s got a better bat than anyone on the Braves or in their system with a possible exception of Heyward. But Butler has super-star potential. 40+ HR potential, perhaps as soon as next year. He posted a .853 OPS as a TWENTY-THREE year old. The sky’s the limit with that kid. I would trade anyone on the Braves’ 40-man roster for him except maybe Hanson. MAYBE.

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