Braves sign Saito

Remember when I recently wrote that Frank Wren and procrastinator should never be used in the same sentence?  Well, I certainly wasn’t lying.

Now we’ll just have to see if the Braves continue their press conference series with a Friday afternoon press conference. 

During today’s press conference that announced Takashi Saito as the newest member of Wren’s reconstructed bullpen, Braves manager Bobby Cox praised the Japanese right-hander who will now primarily serve as the setup man for closer Billy Wagner, who you may remember was the featured guest during Wednesday’s installment of “Afternoon press conferences at Turner Field.”

“We’re very fortunate to get two outstanding relief pitchers in the last two days and we haven’t even been to the Winter Meetings yet,” Cox said. “We’re way ahead of the game.”

So how does Cox plan to utilize these two former closers, who like their predecessors (Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano) provide a left-handed, right-handed mix.

“I think Takashi could have gone to any team that he wanted to,” Cox said. “Here when Wagner isn’t closing, he’ll be closing and setting up and vice-versa at times depending on who we’re facing.” 

In other words, if there comes a time when Wagner needs a rest, Cox at least for now, has a plan to occasionally utilize Saito as his closer.

“I can remember when Takashi was with the Dodgers and he was lights out,” Cox said. “It became an eight-inning game.  He was throwing that good over there when Grady Little was the manager.  I know what Grady thought of him  —  a lot, very highly.  I can’t wait for him to get to Spring Training and get the season going.  I feel extremely good about the tail end of our nine-inning game.” 

Saito, who developed a friendship with Wagner while they spent the final six weeks of this past season together in Boston’s bullpen, said that he had an opportunity to talk to Kenshin Kawakami about the Braves and the city of Atlanta. The two hurlers crossed paths during a television appearance in Japan last week.

Last year, Kawakami became the first Japanese native to play for the Braves at the Major League level.

“I asked (Kawakami) a lot of question and he explained a lot about the Atlanta area and the team and the manager and everything,” Saito said. “Everything seemed so positive.  He was always calling me as well, telling me about the Braves.  All of the information I’ve heard is very positive.”

Now that Wren has secured a pair of quality late-inning relievers at a cost that will likely remain below $12 million (depending on Saito’s incentives), he can place his focus on his needs to determine who will play first base and fill his final open outfield spot. 

In the process, he will continue to attempt to find suitors for Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez. For now, the club still would have a preference to deal Lowe.

I need to write the main story for the site.  Just wanted to throw this up to talk about what Wren has done in the past two days.       

 

6 Comments

Nice! These proven vets + Moylan should be able to help the growth of Hyde, Kimbrel and Medlin. I think Mr Wren is pissed he wasn’t considered for ’09’s executive of the year. Go get ‘em, Frank!

I think most fans were pretty unhappy with Wren during his first six months or so with the big job, but over the past 12 months I think he’s done brilliantly. And offering arbitration to MG and RS right before signing a closer and set-up man? Hilarious! It’s like he’s saying, “Yeah, don’t bother accepting arbitration, but we’ll take those draft picks. Thanks for being Type As.” Great work Frank.

Absolutely love this signing. Not only does it provide a proven vet in the set-up man role but gives Kenshin someone to communicate with and feel a little more comfortable around.
Does anyone else feel that with all of these vets, Wren is establishing that this is the year they make the push?

Bravenorth:

How could people be upset with Frank Wren over the first six months of the job.?Yes, he signed Glavine, but he also traded Edgar Renteria. This allowed Yunel to take over short, and acquired Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez. Hernandez, if you remember was the biggest piece in the McLouth deal. So far, that deal has been a great one for us.

You?ll notice that I never said fans should have been upset with Wren ? I said they were. And they were. They really really were.

But once things started to pan out they got over it.

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