Braves Good News Monday


Monday and the Braves postseason is WELL underway in Atlanta. Here’s what’s happened and it isn’t even noon yet.

Nate McLouth’s option declined, it cost a $1.5 million buy out but thank goodness that albatross is gone.

Following my post on a potential swap for Chone Figggins, the Braves as usual went a completely different way. John Kreger reports Derek Lowe reportedly traded to the Indians. We are paying about $10 million of the $15 million he was owed and the Tribe are sending us A Ball lefty Chris Jones who projects as a LOOGY according to Kevin_Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. Tremendous plus for the team and for fan morale. Braves Twitter Critters are absolutely all a-tweet with joy.

Eric Hinske’s option picked up. I knew this would happen, the Diesel is an integral part of the bench team and clubhouse. Cost a measly $1.5 million.

Accords to COTS, the Braves commitments for 2012 so far look like this.

Chipper Jones$14,000,000
Derek Lowe$10,000,000 (paid to Cleveland)
Dan Uggla$13,200,000
Tim Hudson$  9,000,000
Brian McCann$  8,667,000
David Ross$  1,625,000
Eric Hinske$  1,500,000
Nate McClouth$  1,250,000 (buyout)
Sub Total$ 59,242,000
Arbitration Estimates
Jair Jurrjens$  5,100,000
Eric O’Flaherty$  2,400,000
Martin Prado$  4,400,000
Michael Bourn$  7,200,000
Peter Moylan$  2,000,000 (non-tender due to injury and resign perhaps)
Estimated Commitments$ 80,342,000
pre-arb minimum salary players existing est$   3.940,000
Sub total commitments$ 84,332,000
2011 Payroll $ estimated  2012 target$ 91,000,000
Available to fill 6 spots on 25 Man Roster$    6,668,000

Assuming we’ll be within spitting distance of the estimate we could sign a shortstop and perhaps a real right handed outfield bat.

I wrote about shortstop options earlier. As predicted Marco Scutaro is no longer in play because the Red Sox picked up his option and I still like Clint Barmes.  If the money is close to these projections we aren’t in Josh Willingham territory but perhaps in Carlos Quentin range as I discussed last week.

Official Elias Rankings out today have Willingham as a Type A free agent and Barmes as a type B. Signing Willingham would cost us a draft pick while Barmes would not.

This is the first step towards killing the nasty taste left by last year’s failure to launch. I’ve noted before that I felt the GM was under orders – or at least a string suggestion -to do better because John Schuerholz felt it necessary to write to fans and apologize, not something he wants to do again I’m sure.

I hope that the failed signings of Nate McLouth, Kenshin Kawakami, Scott Linebrink, Scott Proctor and over estimation of the value of Derek Lowe have been a learning experience for the GM. My research into his acquisitions shows he does very well choosing young pitching prospects but not so well with older pitchers or everyday players. That is down at least in part to the scouts and advisors but the final choice is his. So here’s some free advice worth exactly what’s being paid for it, young players are better investments than older ones. Thus Willingham at 32 is not a long term investment for a team without outfield depth in the minor leagues while there are younger comparable bats who might be available via trade. Here’s a list of those between 25 and 30, with 22 or more homers and 50 or more RBI (a left fielder needs those numbers to play every day), who are not as of today under contract and whose teams might well be willing to trade for a pitcher – as they are our best bargaining chips.

Nelson Cruz2987301244756412528133116.263.312.509.821
Carlos Quentin247728118421531073103484.254.340.499.838
Alex Gordon23872715161110118545467139.303.376.502.879
B.J. Upton2381261535608213627471161.243.331.429.759

There may be others of course. I’ll look at the options other than Quentin, address concerns about inexperience in our rotation if we deal a pitcher and more issues as the hot stove heats up.