GM for a Day: Atlanta Braves

Atlanta needs some help immediately in order to salvage 2009 (FLC/Flickr).

Atlanta needs some help immediately in order to salvage 2009 (FLC/Flickr).

Originally I had another team in mind for the second installment (here’s our first) of “GM for a Day,” but with how much suffering the fans in Atlanta are experiencing this winter, I figured it was my duty to help Frank Wren out and give him some tips.

The Braves were in great position at the beginning of the winter with two main goals (big outfield bat and ace/front line starter) and a lot of cap space to accomplish it. Thus far Wren has failed miserably causing me to question if he was awake or even knew he could add players during the winter months. This is especially true considering the blunders he’s had already (Burnett, the Furcal flop, not signing anyone to help plug holes and disrespecting a legend in Smoltz). So Frank, here’s what you need to do to salvage your team and your fan’s hopes over the next month:

Atlanta needs Lowe at the top of their rotation (oneidaprincess/Flickr).

Atlanta needs Lowe at the top of their rotation (oneidaprincess/Flickr).

1.) Sign free agent starting pitchers Derek Lowe and Randy Wolf to a contract immediately.

I know he’s not AJ Burnett like Atlanta wanted, but Wren missed the boat on him. But then again, Derek Lowe is actually a much more reliable pitcher and a good fit for Atlanta.

As you can see by the stats below, you know what you will get from Lowe (around 14 wins, ERA in the mid-3’s and a great ground ball percentage). The ground ball percentage is especially nice to have in Atlanta when it starts to heat up and the ball begins to carry more in the humidity. Plus you have to remember that Lowe has had very little run support during his tenure with the Dodgers. They have had an offense that has been very weak at times which is why it is important for the Braves to bolster it a bit. Here’s a look at Lowe’s stats the past three years:

+------+-----+----------+-------+-------+------+-----+------+-----+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM     | IP    |  W-L  | ERA  | SO  | WHIP | GB% |
+------+-----+----------+-------+-------+------+-----+------+-----+
| 2006 |  33 | Dodgers  | 218.0 | 16-8  | 3.63 | 123 | 1.27 | 69% |
| 2007 |  34 | Dodgers  | 199.3 | 12-14 | 3.88 | 147 | 1.27 | 65% |
| 2008 |  35 | Dodgers  | 211.0 | 14-11 | 3.24 | 147 | 1.13 | 60% |
+------+-----+----------+-------+-------+------+-----+------+-----+

In addition signing Randy Wolf (12-12, 4.30 ERA, 162 SO in the 2008 season) would not only bring more stability to the rotation but it would bring a lefty to help break up the string of righties the Braves have/would have. Wolf would be a nice pick-up for them and you could sign him to a 1-year $5.5-$6 million contract with a second year option. This would be a smart signing for the club.

2.) Trade prospects Gorkys Hernandez and Kris Medlen to the Yankees for Nick Swisher.

Some of you may think I came out of nowhere with this one, but it has been reported that the Yankees are shopping Nick Swisher around now that they have signed Mark Teixeira. With Teix taking over first base and an already crowded outfield, Swisher is going to struggle to find playing time and the Yankees would like to bring in some young prospects. Here’s a look at how Swisher has produced the past three seasons:

+------+-----+-----------+-----+-----------+----+-----+-----+----+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM      | AB  |  AVG/OBP  | HR | RBI |  R  | 2B |
+------+-----+-----------+-----+-----------+----+-----+-----+----+
| 2006 |  25 | Athletics | 556 | .254/.372 | 35 |  95 | 106 | 24 |
| 2007 |  26 | Athletics | 539 | .262/.381 | 22 |  78 |  84 | 36 |
| 2008 |  27 | White Sox | 497 | .219/.332 | 24 |  69 |  86 | 21 |
+------+-----+-----------+-----+-----------+----+-----+-----+----+
Swisher would bring flexibility to their lineup (Kimberly*/Flickr).

Swisher would bring flexibility to their lineup (Kimberly*/Flickr).

As you can see he’s never been a big average guy, but I do believe last year was a fluke season for him in large part due to the White Sox’s inability to use Swisher properly. He wasn’t given a full opportunity to play especially at the end of the season after acquiring Ken Griffey Jr. Given the chance to play in Atlanta, I see Swisher giving a line of .260/.380/.495 with 28 homers and 98 RBI. This is pretty much what they were expecting from Jeff Francoeur but with a higher OBP.

3.) Sign free agent Bobby Abreu to a contract.

I know I used this one on the Cubs GM plan already but they made a mistake and signed Milton Bradley instead. My main choices were between Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn. On one hand the Braves could use Dunn’s power in the clean-up spot, but they already have quite a few high strikeout hitters in the lineup with Swisher and Francoeur. With that in mind I figured another OBP guy who is also a nice three hitter would be a better fit.

+------+-----+----------+-----+-----------+----+-----+-----+----+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM     | AB  |  AVG/OBP  | HR | RBI |  R  | SB |
+------+-----+----------+-----+-----------+----+-----+-----+----+
| 2005 |  31 | Phillies | 588 | .286/.405 | 24 | 102 | 104 | 31 |
| 2006 |  32 | PHI/NYY  | 548 | .297/.424 | 15 | 107 |  98 | 30 |
| 2007 |  33 | Yankees  | 605 | .283/.369 | 16 | 101 | 123 | 25 |
| 2008 |  34 | Yankees  | 609 | .296/.371 | 20 | 100 | 100 | 22 |
+------+-----+----------+-----+-----------+----+-----+-----+----+

As you can see, Abreu’s presence in the lineup would be very beneficial for the Braves who need an outfielder to help them on offense. With these additions, here’s how the lineup and rotation would now look:

Escobar will help Atlanta with his bat and glove (artolog/Flickr)

Escobar will help Atlanta with his bat and glove (artolog/Flickr)

1.) Yunel Escobar, SS
2.) Kelly Johnson, 2B
3.) Bobby Abreu, LF
4.) Chipper Jones, 3B
5.) Brian McCann, C
6.) Nick Swisher, CF
7.) Casey Kotchman, 1B
8.) Jeff Francoeur, RF

Derek Lowe, RHP
Jair Jurrjens, RHP
Javier Vasquez, RHP
Randy Wolf, LHP
Jorge Campillo, RHP

(Also the Braves may sign Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami who could slide into the five spot in the rotation as could Tom Glavine depending on what they do with him).

I really believe that these additions will help make the Braves a contender in 2009. As they stand now with Wren’s inactivity, the Braves will not be in contention in the NL East. They will finish a distant fourth which will not make Atlanta’s dedicated fan base happy especially with them being accustomed to their organization’s long standing tradition.

Wren must make some moves because as of now he is doing nothing but hurting the Atlanta Braves as well as their chances for 2009.

By Matthew Whipps
The Diamond Cutter
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
mlbdiamondcutter@gmail.com | Facebook

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17 Responses to GM for a Day: Atlanta Braves

  1. Mark says:

    There’s no question that the Braves will be a factor in the NL East if they do what you are saying. My question is do they have the money for both Abreu and Lowe?

  2. I really think they do considering they didn’t sign Burnett or Smoltz or any other free agents for that matter.

  3. Oh and because Wren told us before the winter that his goals are to sign an ace and a big bat for the outfield. I’m not sure how much he thought that would cost as I can’t imagine any less than those two would cost.

    Of course who knows what goes on in Frank’s world.

  4. Mike says:

    I would hate Abreu on the Braves. He’s declining and would be lucky to hit 10-12 HR since he doesn’t have the short porch in NY. He is also a lousy defender in the outfield. I wouldn’t trade Hernandez, because i’m ready for a bad season but the future could be bright with an outfield of Hernandez-Schafer-Heyward. I would trade Francouer if he gets off to a hot start for Greinke. Swisher for Medlen and Locke.

  5. Mike says:

    I don’t know about giving up Gorkys, but Swisher would really help them out. He’ll definitely rebound, he’s no Ben Grieve.

    Assuming Wren is still asleep and doesn’t do the moves you suggest (Or similar), do you think Hanson, Schafer or Heyward begin the year in The Show?

  6. I don’t think Schafer will as he missed a lot of time from his suspension. I hope Heyward doesn’t as I’d like him to be a mid-season call up if anything. And as for Hanson I think he will probably start the year with the club IF they don’t get another starting pitcher.

    Of course with Wren’s poor decision making thus far it wouldn’t surprise me to see them all start the year in Atlanta in some sort of desperation move.

    Also the move I mentioned to get Swisher included Gorkys due to the fact that the Yankees farm system essentially only has pitching and not too many offensive impact prospects.

  7. One other signing I believe the Braves should take a chance on and that’s with Andruw Jones. Now before you all close your browsers because you think I’m nuts, hear me out.

    Andruw Jones is a free agent after his buyout by the Dodgers. He has publicly stated that he loved his time in Atlanta and if you think about it, where else would he be welcomed into the mix? So if the Braves can get him on a minor league deal where he has to make the club and say a one-year deal for $1 million (then lace it with incentives) with a club option for a second, why not do it? It would motivate him to get ready for spring training as he’d have to work to make the club.

    If he comes to spring training 30 pounds overweight or stinks up the joint, cut him loose. But if he still has a little something left in him then it would be a great fourth outfielder or even starter for the 2009 season. Atlanta is the only club he would take an amount this low or even a minor league deal with so I say they give it a go.

    What do they really have to lose?

  8. Mark says:

    I closed my browser on that last comment…haha just kidding. I actually kind of agree with taking a chance on Andruw if you are Atlanta. They certainly don’t have much to lose.

  9. HA! Well good, I’m glad you don’t find me completely insane. I just think if anyone can squeeze some life out of Jones it would be Bobby Cox.

  10. Matt says:

    So I agree with your plan for the most part. I think Abreu would be a good pick up for the Braves. As mentioned above, some believe he’s on the decline, and he is slightly, but his numbers haven’t changed much (with the exception of a steady drop in SBs). I’m not that high on Swisher though. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a move for him, but I think they will come to regret it if they do. Jones could be interesting as a minor league signing. Do you think Boras could swallow his pride and agree to such a low contract though?

  11. As much as it would kill Boras to do it, I think he won’t have much of an option but to swallow his pride and get Jones a small offer.

    The alternative would be Jones disappearing from baseball for a few years (like Sosa did) and try to come back then.

  12. Mike says:

    Jones is the next Ruban Sierra who had a brief cameo appearance in the majors at the end of his career and popped off a 20 HR season.

  13. SR says:

    I just wanted to express some appreciation for the increased activity and variety in your posting. It’s nice to see you working at this blog again. And I enjoy your posts. Thanks!

    P.S. I’d love to see the top 25 list get updated more frequently. My own draft is coming in a month!

  14. Yeah its great to be back writing it full time. Now that my other projects have quieted down I have time to get back to it.

    As far as the top 25 list, that will be returning along with the top 5 prospects from each organization. I needed a break from prospects for a couple weeks but it returns tomorrow!

  15. Oh and in case you hadn’t seen this yet, Lowe has reportedly signed with the Braves for four years, $60 million.

    ESPN Story: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3829521

    They had to do this.

  16. hurda al?m merkezi

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