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Monday, October 11, 2010

How to fix the Braves (and my heart)

I came here to put up a blog post, hoping to try and renew interest in the site and I see that Taege beat me by a whole day. Good work!

Ok, by now I'm sure everyone's seen the epic collapse the Braves had in Game 3 of the NLDS.  I envy all of you in that you could at least turn the channel.  I was in right field in the middle deck about 30 feet away from the foul poul (on the fair side).  In fact, replay shows I was the first person to stand up on Hinske's dramatic 8th inning homerun. 
Even if the Braves are to recover and advance to the NLCS it's no secret the team went all-in for Bobby.  When the year ends the Braves will have several holes in the lineup and one in the dugout. 

Here's a look at what's returning:
Catcher
Starter: Brian McCann L/R $6.5 million
Backup: David Ross  R/R $1.625 million
The catchers are set and really to go along with the NLs best you get the best backup in the league.  Really, Ross should actually play more.
Infield
1b: Freddie Freeman L/L ~$0.400 million
2b: Martin Prado R/R arbitration eligible. Expect about $1.25 million
3b: Chipper Jones B/R  $13 million
SS: Alex Gonzalez R/R (option will likely be picked up) $2.5 million
I'm not a huge fan of the infield but if Chipper is back next year then it will be fine.  The biggest issue with the infield this season is that injuries caused the team to be stretched too thin.  Infante is a great utility player and will do a fine job filling in when Prado and Chipper need days off.
Outfield
LF:
CF:
RF: Jason Heyward L/L ~$0.400 million
As you can see the outfield is a mess. Heyward's good but he can't cover that much ground. Maybe they can clone him?
Bench
Omar Infante UT B/R $2.5 million - Two words: All Star
Nate McLouth CF L/L $6.5 million - Another player who had a horrible year. He's probably lost his starting job permanently but he'd make a nifty bench guy for a year.
Matt Diaz OF  R/R- only after renegotiating his contract. He's due for a raise in arbitration but no way that happens. He'll probably settle for something around $2 million.

Free Agents: Rick Ankiel, Brooks Conrad (~$.4M), Troy Glaus(~$2M), Eric Hinske($1M), Derrek Lee
Declining Arbitration: Melky Cabrera

Starting Pitching
1. Tim Hudson R $9 million
2. Tommy Hanson R ~$0.500 million
3. Derek Lowe R $15 million
4. Jair Jurrjens R arbitration eligible. I'm guessing ~$3.75 million
5. Mike Minor L ~$0.4 million
Bullpen
Kenshin Kawakami R $6.67 million
Stephen Marek $0.4 million
Michael Dunn L $0.5 million
Brandon Beachy R $0.5 million
Peter Moylan R arb. eligible ~$2.5 million
Johnny Venters L $0.5 million
Closer: Craig Kimbrel R $0.4 million

Free agents: Kyle Farnsworth, Takashi Saito ($3.2M), Billy Wagner ($7M)
Decline Arb: Eric O'Flaherty, Scott Proctor

Money spent: $77 million
Available Somewhere between $8-15 million
Here's what I'd do if I was in Frank Wren's shoes:
1. Sign Carl Crawford. Just do it. The Braves biggest need is a good defensive center fielder. It's likely he'll require 5 years at $15 per but I think he's worth it.
2. Trade for a left fielder. Packaging Mike Minor with Nate McLouth for a LF would probably allow the Braves to get someone like Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier from the Dodgers.

I know this is just a pipe dream but by doing this the Braves would shore up their outfield defense, add speed and power to a team that has neither, and really lose nothing at the major league level.  The only left to do is to find another infielder who can play a mean shortstop.  Adam Everett would be sweet and would likely only cost about $600,000.
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