Results tagged ‘ John Lackey ’

Let the Lowe bidding begin

While the Phillies attempt to complete the Roy Halladay trade and the Red Sox debate whether the John Lackey acquisition provides an oportunity to improve their offense with the acquistion of somebody like Adrian Gonzalez, the Braves are preparing for the increased demand that Derek Lowe will now draw. 

Within a span of just a few hours today, the Angels learned that Lackey was signing with the Red Sox and that a division rival (the Mariners) might have added Cliff Lee to a rotation that already included Felix Hernandez. 

As I write this, there are some reports indicating that Lee might not be included in the Halladay deal. If that’s the case Ruben Amaro may want to have his people call some of the Turner Field engineers and determine how best to display four consecutive division titles.  

But whether or not Lee is included in this deal, it’s safe to say that the demand for Lowe will increase over the course of the next couple of days.   

With speculation that they would lose Lackey via free agency, the Angels have long been considered one of the more likely suitors for Lowe. 

Understandably, there were some who believed they’d first make an attempt to grab Halladay before exploring this option. 

But now that Doc H. will be pitching across the street from where Dr. J. soared to legendary status, the Angels will have to take a much longer look at the durability and dependability that Lowe could bring their rotation. 

There have already been some Braves fans asking that 31-year-old outfielder Juan Rivera be included in the return package.  While he stands as the affordable right-hander who could provide some pop to the Atlanta lineup, look for the Braves to also dig into the Angels farm system. 

When I ask about the availability of Brandon Wood last week, one Angels source said, “the more teams ask about him, the better I start to think he might be.” 

Over the next couple days we might learn more about a potential return package.  But it’s safe to say that the Angels have the prospects to deal for Lowe and seemingly the sudden need to bring him back to the Los Angeles area.

Just as a reminder, Javier Vazquez’s contract includes a no-trade clause that prohibits him from being dealt to the Angels or any other club that competes in the AL or NL East. 

To answer some of the hot topics on the previous post, I like most of you was shocked when I saw what it might cost to land LaRoche.  But as long as a middle ground is eventually reached before he runs out of options for the multi-year contract he certainly deserves, you can just chalk this figure up as a product of his agent doing his job during the early portion of negotiations. 

Also some of you have been talking about Milton Bradley.  Because I haven’t had the opportunity to be around him on a regular basis, I’m not going to simply assume he’s as bad as his reputation suggests. 

But I think it’s pretty safe to say that he has kept this reputation long enough to prevent the Braves from even taking a chance on the possibility that he would be different in the friendly atmosphere that Gary Sheffield enjoyed in Atlanta. 

If the Cubs are definitely willing to take on a majority of the $21 million Bradley is owed over the next two seasons, maybe you do take a chance on his power potential, which was really only seen during his one year playing the offensively-friendly confines that the Rangers call home.

But would you really throw Bradley on Bobby Cox during his final season?  Or would you take a chance on the kind of negative influence that he might bring while Jason Heyward is introducing himself to the Majors?

Day 2 recap from Winter Meetings

It’s safe to say that Day 2 of this year’s Winter Meetings have so far proven to be a little more pleasant given the fact that the there was no longer reason to worry about the uncertainty that Rafael Soriano presented. 

Shortly after learning of Soriano’s decision to accept arbitration late Monday night, Wren received a phone call from agent Peter Greenberg, who provided clearance to make a trade once it was confirmed that his client would no longer be slotted to serve as one of the primary late-inning relievers in Atlanta. 

Wren talked to a number of clubs on Tuesday who have shown interest in Soriano.  The Astros and Red Sox are believed to be among the clubs that will show the most interest in the veteran right-handed reliever. 

When asked Tuesday evening, Wren said that he didn’t think it would be long before a trade was completed.  Heck, the night is young, maybe it will still happen tonight.

There is definitely mutual interest between the Braves and free-agent outfielder Xavier Nady.  But Wren and his staff are still attempting to answer any health-related questions regarding Nady, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery. 

As time passes, the more it becomes clear that John Lackey may have to sign before the Braves gain a clear picture about whether they’ll be able to satisfy their desire to move Derek Lowe. 

Stay tuned. There’s still a chance there could be some action tonight. 

Wren heading to Indy with a shorter shopping list

Now that we know that Tiger Woods wasn’t slipping out in the middle of the night to take advantage of one of last week’s door-buster sales, it’s time to focus on the remaining shopping list that Braves general manager Frank Wren will take to next week’s Winter Meetings in Indianapolis.
Would it have been more appropriate to refer to them as window-busting sales?

Regardless, it’s safe to say Wren certainly came out swinging during the early stages of this offseason.  While bidding adieu to a pair of Type A free agent relievers (Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano) who could net him four picks in next year’s Draft, Wren grabbed a pair of Type A free agent relievers (Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito) while losing just one draft pick.   

Saito would have been labeled a Type A free agent had the Red Sox not dropped them from their 40-man roster in October.  This was simply a procedural move that provided them the opportunity to pursue the Japanese right-hander at a cost cheaper than the option (worth at least $6 million) that was in his contract.

Wren certainly took a small risk by offering arbitration to both Gonzalez and Soriano when he had a good sense that in the next 48 hours he would sign both Saito and Wagner.  But it was a calculated one primarily based on the fact that Gonzalez and Soriano now arguably stand as the two best relief options on a free-agent market that grew thinner this week when the Braves reconstructed the back-end of their bullpen. 

There’s very little reason to believe Gonzalez would align himself with Scott Boras and then opt to take the one-year contract that would come via accepting the arbitration offer.  He’s going to get some of the same attractive multi-year deals that will be offered to Soriano, whose health history provides even more reason for him to find the security provided by a multi-year offer.  

Soriano and Gonzalez have until 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday to accept these arbitration offers.  It’s hard to imagine them doing this and ignoring the opportunity to field the offers that will be made by those teams that may have seen their wish lists shortened this week by the signings of Wagner and Saito. 

With his bullpen needs filled, Wren will head to Indianapolis with the opportunity to focus his attention on finding at least one bat and a suitor that is willing to deal for either Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez. 

The Braves still seem hopeful that they’ll be able to move Lowe instead of Vazquez.  My feeling has been that John Lackey, the top starter available on this year’s free-agent market, will sign before the Braves are able to move one of these two hurlers. 

But Wren doesn’t believe this is necessarily true.   

“I think teams have to have some sense of what the market is,” Wren said. “It’s the unknown that makes it difficult for clubs.  The top guy doesn’t necessarily have to sign.  But the top guy has to have a market established.  That will obviously create some players and some non-players.” 

In other words, during next week’s meetings, when we start hearing what clubs are offering Lackey, we may gain a better sense about which teams will prove to be the most likely suitors for Lowe and Vazquez.

Whether the Braves deal Vazquez, who is set to make $11.5 million in the final year of his contract, or Lowe, who is owed $15 million during each of the next three seasons, they will still seemingly have a similar amount of fund to fill their offensive needs. 

If they are able to trade Lowe, it still seems like they will have to eat somewhere between $1-2 million per year.   Thus their potential cost savings made by dealing either of these two hurlers may be only differ by this same range.  

As he evaluates who will play first base and fill his final outfield void, Wren has his sights set on finding a right-handed bat.  Marlon Byrd’s agent, Seth Levinson, said earlier this week that the Braves have “strong interest” in his client. 

But it seems like Byrd, who hit 14 of his career-high 20 homers inside Texas’ offensively-friendly ballpark this year, stands as just one of many candidates that Braves are evaluating.   
Some of the Braves players are lobbying for the club to bring Mark DeRosa back.  DeRosa would certainly prove valuable in the fact that he could play a number of different positions and add some power potential to the roster. 

It’s believed that DeRosa would be willing to take a “hometown discount” from the Braves.  But it might take some time before his view of a discount corresponds with what the Braves are willing to offer.  

As the next week progresses, we’ll likely learn more about the interest being shown to these players and other free-agents like Jermaine Dye, Xavier Nady and Mike Cameron.  In addition, Wren has made it known that he could opt to fill his offensive needs via trade.

“Right now, there are a lot of different possibilities,” Wren said.
Odds and ends:  Don’t forget that you can help Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren  and Ernie Johnson, Sr. move one step closer to the Hall of Fame by voting for this year’s Ford C. Frick Award.  Click here for the ballot.
You may have noticed that Wagner will wear the No. 13 jersey that was adorned by Nate McLouth last year.  Wagner said that he knows he may have to provide McLouth a portion of his new $7 million contract to show appreciation for the opportunity to continue wearing this number that he has sported dating back to his childhood days in Virginia. 
Wagner said the number has gained more sentimental value since his now-deceased grandfather provided him a medal that was engraved with the No. 13.   The medal was one of the ID pieces that his grandfather wore while working in the coal mines.
Tim Hudson invited Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen to join him for last week’s Iron Bowl in Auburn, Ala.  As a sign of appreciation the two comical hurlers arrived on Hudson’s former campus and asked where they might be able to buy some Alabama gear.  

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