Braves will continue to focus on moving their pitchers

With this being the last fully day of this year’s Winter Meetings, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Braves general manager Frank Wren will leave Indianapolis on Thursday possessing the same offensive needs that existed when he arrived. 

Wren has placed his current focus on fulfilling his role as the GM, who has the pieces to solve the pitching needs possessed by a number of his peers. 

Before traveling back to Atlanta, Wren will continue attempting to move Rafael Soriano and Derek Lowe (or Javier Vazquez if necessary).  Yesterday he mentioned that there was at least one club that might be interested in trading for both of these veteran pitchers. 

But despite the fact that they fit this description, there’s little reason to believe that Wren would contemplate sending his former ace and former closer to either the Phillies or the Mets.  In fact, he’s going to continue exploring all options before reaching a point where he would determine that it would be best to send either of these hurlers to either of these division rivals. 

I’ve previously mentioned the Astros as a potential suitor for Soriano.  But there seems to be a belief that their financial situation might eliminate them from being a major player in the bidding for the right-handed reliever’s services. 

As mentioned last night, there appears to be mutual interest between the Braves and Xavier Nady.  If they were able to secure him with a free-agent deal, it appears he would primarily play first base and also spend some time in the outfield. 

Nady’s versatility would allow him to occasionally spell one of the regular outfielders  — a group that I would currently project as being Nate McLouth, Matt Diaz and Jason Heyward. 

Martin Prado would be able to play first base during those days when Nady (or another player that possesess similar versatility).  While Omar Infante could fill in as the second baseman, there’s also reason to wonder if the Braves will reach a point during this offseason, when they attempt to add another middle infielder.

With the Yankees seemingly prepared to add Curtis Granderson to their outfield mix, there have been reports indicating that Nick Swisher will be available via trade.

The Braves were interested in Swisher last year and like Nady he would be able to provide the same kind of 1B/OF versatiliy.

Mark DeRosa would also fit this category.  But he won’t fit on the Braves radar until his cost drops closer to the $5 million (average annual salary) range.  

This provides a sense of what Frank Wren has been alluding to when he has mentioned that he is still exploring a number of options that could satisfy his offensive needs.

The Braves had some interest in Ross Gload (another player who could serve as a 1B/OF) before he signed with the Phillies last night.  They were very high on his defensive skills at first base.

One American League scout described Gload as “a guy who will hit .270 play solid defense and provide little power.” 

To which I was left to wonder, “Does he also come with Casey Kotchman’s vibrant personality?”  

21 Comments

Quick question – whatever happened to Gregor Blanco? In 2008 he played quite a few games, and last year he showed up for a little bit. I don’t know the stats off the top of my head but I know he showed some potential. Same ting with Jordan Schafer.

Is there any commitment to bringing either of those guys up to the majors and giving them a shot or is the plan to leave them in the minors to develop over the long term and end up using them as trade prospects?

Gregor Blanco felll out of favor during the 2008 season and doesn’t have much of a future with the Braves. Light-hitter w/ limited baserunning skills. Schafer definitely needs a little more time in the Minors to make up for the time he lost the past two years.

Sounds like the Astros are close to getting Matt Lindstrom. As mentioned in this blog entry, they realized they needed a cheaper option than Soriano, who could be moved before these Meetings conclude.

The Rays are the latest team to reportedly show interest. The Red Sox and Yankees also still seem to be potential suitors.

Erik Cordier, the hard-throwing right-hander who has battled injuries since being acquired from Royals for Tony Pena Jr., has been mentioned in the lobby as a player the Braves might lose in tomorrow’s Rule 5 Draft. Seems like a stretch to me and an NL talent evaluator just shared this same mindset.

Since you mention the possibility of adding a middle infielder, what do you think of Orlando Hudson? If legitimate options for adding significant power are nonexistent, why not do the next best thing and add speed? His defense would make the starting rotation even better. And after his frustrating experience in L.A., he might sign cheap for the opportunity to play for a player-friendly manager and be close to home/family. Prado could play first until a better option is available.

Hope Braves do not ‘give’ Soriano away to these
poor mouth Rays. Mr. Wren should wait on a
club who will respect the value of Soriano
by dealing straight.
My biggest disappointment was the Braves loosing
out on Gload to the Phillies. Gload was a great fit
for ATL.

Mark,

I can’t imagine why the Braves aren’t at least considering using a guy in CF that has no power, doesn’t hit for average, will not steal bases, has no arm, plays deep but still gets burned, gets the worst jump on a ball coming in of any OF I’ve seen in recent memory (Adam Dunn included), and leads every team he is on in strike outs. I’m drawing a complete Blanco on this one…..

Good to have you back Rother. There are numerous reports indicating the Rays are the front-runner in the Soriano sweepstakes. The Braves, who spoke to six clubs about the stone-faced reliever today, deny this presumption. I’m getting the sense that like the Astros, the Rays will be deterred by his cost.

There is a thought, given that Soriano grabbed up the Braves offer immediately, that the Free Agent market may be projecting even lower than it was last season, and that there will be players to be had at very low prices, even lower than last season. If this is even a remote possibility, I, in Frank Wren’s role, would be extremely hesitant to pickup a player on any existing multi-year 2005 or 2006 era contract. I personally think there will be multiple “Bobby Abreau” type deals out there this winter. Especially if the Yankees are going to stand pat with Granderson. How would one year of VladyG sound at $5 million or so plus incentives? There are going to be a bunch of those out there, I betcha.

My FA 1B of choice right now would be Hank Blalock. he has a lot of pop and can play 1b and do the 40 game stint at 3B we all know we need to factor in. I’d also consider signing Marcus Thames to a minor league deal as insurance. He can put the ball in orbit in a limited role against lefties. I saw him put one in the camera well in straight away center at Comerica, that is legit. Those two guys would cost Atlanta very little and the return could be two pretty solid pieces. Khalil Greene is also going to be available dirt cheap as he tries to resurrect his career. There is legit help at 3B, 1B, SS, and righty bat, straight out of the Dollar Store.

Are there any rumors of packaging Soriano with another player to find a suitor (perhaps KJ or JoJo)?

I agree Khalil Greene is a great defensive player, and could be a great glove to bring off the bench. However, offensively, we might as well go with Diory.

I agree with Rother in that there will be a lot of vets that have made their money and might be able to be scooped up at a decent price. I see that No-mah is out there and might be a viable vet who can play some 1B/3B when needed. Guys like that in general should be plentiful. Interested in what Wren & Stimpy will do.

send lowe barbaro canizares and schafer to detriot for miguel carbara

would the braves send rafael and canizares to houston for berkman?

I second rother’s suggestion on Blalock and Thames.

Yeah a great strategy, Because we paid to much for pitching(again) now we should pick up some scrap heap help. We had a chance last year to sign Bay, Dunn, Abreu, Nady or Swisher. We got the mighty Garret instead. FW has the budget management skills of Yogi. He overpays for pitching and sign scrap heap help for the rest of the offseason. Nice move with Soriano, didn’t see that coming, huh, Frank?

Rother, RU really in love with Blalock? He had an OBP of .277 last season. He is a great example of the scrap heap help referenced earlier. He hasn’t hit since 2003, doesn’t hit 4 much power, drives in no one. He is kinda like Ryan Church without the BA.

Good to see Billreef in midseason form. Wrong information, wrong assumptions, wrong conclusions.

Nady,Bay and Swisher were all three under contract to the Pirates,Pirates, and White Sox repsectively thus not able to be signed but would have to be acquired via trade.

Not surprising to see the trio were indeed acquired by the Red Sox and Yankees. I highly doubt that Wren was the sole GM that struck out in acquiring any of the trio.

As for Abreu and Dunn yes both wre available and I do believe that Wren had interest in Abreu, Angels just had the more readily available funds.

As for Dunn when will people get it through their thick heads that He isn’t wanted by hardly any team at anything other than a lowball one year deal.

He’s(Dunn) a DH who has a history of coming up short in games that mean anything and despite his 40 homer bat his atrocious defense more than offsets that skill.

Had Jim Bowden been unemployed as his skills warranted last off season, Dunn would have been schleping around on a 1 year deal for less than half of what he got.

Dunn is not the answer to any questions that the Braves or any other Front Office striving to win a pennant needs to be asking.

Wren just needs to stay the course. He moved Soriano, needs to focus his efforts on Moving Lowe after Halladay and Lackey land somewhere.

Only then can he turn the focus to the offense. There will be plenty of options at that point.

Yeah, Dunn would have really stunk up the place with his 40 HR 105 RBI and .928 OPS. Yeah, who needs that when we have a fleet footed power demon like GA roaming LF. He got to at least 3 flyballs I think last year.

Yes Wren overpayed a bit for Lowe, but given the need for reliable inning eaters after the 2007 season I don?t blame him. The Schuerholz plan has always been to place the higher premium on pitching than offense. Do you think choosing Maddux over Bonds before the 1993 season was a mistake? Besides, Wren did not overpay for Lowe as much as the Nats overpayed for Dunn. As davidatl14 notes, Bay, Nady, and Swisher were not free agents last year, and Wren may add Nady soon now that the Soriano deal has cleared some salary. Abreu might have been an option price-wise, but the Angels moved before the unfortunate episodes with Peavey and Furcal were resolved. Braves fans were spoiled in the past by Ted Turner?s manic spending followed by Bobby Cox?s ability to pull off miracles when he won the last two division titles with inferior talent. We?re in a different world now, and I think overall Wren is doing a shrewd and admirable job trying to keep the Braves competitive on a small budget.

Wow, we have too much pitching and can’t decide on what free agent acquistion to put at 1B. We only finished 2nd in our division and fell out of the wild card race with a little over a week to go. Man. . . . we suck. I can’t even believe we won any games at all last night….. Why don’t you ask a Pittsburgh fan how much we suck.
Now being serious… We are not the Yankees, Bo Sox, or Cubs so we can’t just throw money around. Those “scrap heap” players are all sometimes what makes the most sense financially and logistically. I’m glad some would rather see Adam Dunn hit two homeruns in a game that we lose by 6, but I would rather have a guy that can produce when it matters (and I believed for a long time Frenchy was going to be the guy). I can’t believe people saw how bad Anderson was in LF, and still want to see Adam Dunn??? The guy plays OF like the kid off of “Rookie of the Year”. Jose Canseco 2009 in my book. It would be nice to plug in a guy with some pop (30HR or so) that we can plug in between Chipper and B Mac that can give Chipper a few more pitches to swing at and B Mac a few more RBI chances. Most of the time that I was able to see the Braves play I saw Chipper Jones swinging at some terrible pitches that he never swung at in the past. He opened up his strike zone to the point where he was fooled by pitches down the middle. He’s obviously older and can’t turn on the ball like in the past, but if you put a guy behind him that can put a lump in the throat of the pitcher then maybe he decides to challenge Chipper a bit more. The guy won the batting title season before last, he’s not done yet.
However with that being said, the Braves are focused around pitching and always have been. The Braves have always tried to rely on the farm (Justice, Gant, Lopez) for most of their pop, which they hope that Freeman, Heyward, and Schafer can produce. Now if they can pick up a big bat (McGriff, Big Cat, JD Drew, Sheffield) that would obviously help a great deal and would make us without a doubt a World Series contender. If the Braves can get a big bat, I would not even be worried about the Phillies. I honestly feel if the Braves get that one piece, then they will be the team to beat simply because the rest of their lineup benefits a big hitter by getting on base. We didn’t have a problem getting on base, or even scoring runs. We just didn’t score the runs when it mattered the most.

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