October 19, 2009 at 8:00 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Front Office, Transactions
For the antithesis of my last post, the 5 best decisions the Braves made in 2009*.
Number 5 – Releasing Tom Glavine in favor of Tommy Hanson.
I’m a huge Tom Glavine fan for so many reasons. He was drafted and developed by the Braves, he was a mainstay in the rotation for so many years, he was such an excellent competitor and an even better mentor, and perhaps most of all, game 6. But Tom Glavine is 43 years old and wasn’t too good in 2008. After a setback caused him to miss 6 more weeks than expected, the organization elected to release Tom Glavine in favor of calling up Tommy Hanson. It was a bitter way for the organization to depart with a Braves legend and first ballot hall-of-famer, but it really needed to be done. Hanson ended up going 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts. What would Tom Glavine have done had he not been released? Well, I can tell you one thing. Not what Hanson did.
Number 4 – Trading Casey Kotchman for Adam LaRoche.
I’m generally opposed to selling low on a player and failing to maximize value on the trade market, but a deadline deal that sent 2 years and 2 months of Casey Kotchman to Boston for 2 months of Adam LaRoche is probably an exception. LaRoche, in 2 months, hit .325/.401/.557 with 12 HR for the Braves and was right in the middle of most of the offensive turn around that saw the Braves make a promising run at a playoff berth. While the Braves did fall short, they showed life for the first time in 3 years and gave the fans reason to believe they have a chance in 2010. Looking back, I’m rather glad that Kotchman isn’t around anymore. A career .742 OPS at 1B just isn’t going to cut it, no matter how good with the glove he may be. I always liked him, but he’s at the point in his career where he’s probably not going to get any better, and I’m glad the organization has flexibility at 1B. They can either re-sign LaRoche or go with another external option. All I know is that the team will be better off in 2010 without Kotchman’s contract on the books.
Number 3 – Signing David Ross to a 2 year, $3 million deal.
A quality back-up catcher is something the team has lacked for awhile, now. Not only did they fill the void, it couldn’t have come at a better time, as McCann was forced to miss over a month with vision issues in 2009. Ross performed excepti0nally well in McCann’s absence and on his off days, hitting .273/.380/.508 with 7 HR in 151 PA’s and played phenomenal defense. Additionally, he’s helped McCann improve behind the plate, becoming a league-average defensive catcher. This move didn’t get a whole lot of attention, but it was a crucial acquisition. One of the more underrated moves of the 2009 off-season.
Number 2 – Trading Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Church.
I know, I know. You’re all shocked I didn’t put this one at number 1. Number 2 is plenty good, though. Jeff Francoeur hit .250/.282/.352 with 5 HR and 12 BB’s in 324 PA’s for the Braves before he was traded to the Mets for Ryan Church, who hit .260/.347/.402 in 144 PA’s for the Braves. Ryan Church didn’t have a huge impact, but there is such a thing as addition by subtraction. I think Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory’s analysis of the trade is more adequate than anything I could write:
Mets – “Acquired” Francoeur
New York Mets – Acquired OF Delta Airlines® Presents Jeff Francoeur from the Atlanta Braves for OF Ryan Church.
I like trades that are easy to dissect.
Ryan Church is a better baseball player than Jeff Francoeur. Ryan Church is overwhelmingly likely to always be a better player than Jeff Francoeur. I am amazed that Dayton Moore only did the second-dumbest thing today.*
Ryan Church upgrades the Braves outfield. Ryan Church increases the chances that the Braves will win the NL East in any season that the team plays Ryan Church at the expense of Jeff Francoeur.
Jeff Francoeur downgrades the Mets outfield. Jeff Francoeur increases the chance that the Mets will not win the NL East in any season that the team plays Jeff Francoeur at the expense of Ryan Church. Or possibly a galvanized metal garbage can. When was the last time your garbage can swung at a slider halfway to Peoria? Francoeur actually might be good enough to play for the Peoria Chiefs.
If you made a trade this one-sided with your little brother as a child, you parents would instantly negate the trade and send you to your room. It’s like giving your little brother an empty can of Fanta for his Boba Fett. Now, Ryan Church isn’t as awesome as Boba Fett, but I don’t have to pay a million dollars to an empty can of Fanta either. Ryan Church is not a star, but I wouldn’t trade minor-league shortstop David Church for Francoeur either and he’s a player I just made up.
FRANK WREN GO TO YOUR ROOM AND DONT LET ME CATCH YOU PLAYING HALO!
*The Royals acquired Yuniesky Betancourt the same day as the Mets “acquired” Jeff Francoeur.
Number 1 – Trading Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge, Jon Gilmore, and Santos Rodriguez for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.
Name the most valuable player that changed teams in the 2008-2009 off-season? Yep, it’s Javier Vazquez. Of course, Tyler Flowers is an excellent prospect, but Javier Vazquez went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA, 1.026 WHIP, and a 238-to-44 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the Braves. He was also the MLB leader in xFIP and anchored a strong rotation that almost took the Braves to the post-season for the first time since 2005. Javier Vazquez was also an excellent mentor for the young pitchers on the staff (Hanson, Medlen, Jurrjens, etc..). Also, the Braves picked up a very interesting relief prospect in Boone Logan, who has a live arm with plus velocity from the left side. Overall, an excellent acquisition that bolsters Frank Wren’s resume as a GM of the year candidate. (I think he should win it).
*I realize that a few of these decisions were made in 2008. They were made with 2009 in mind and most of their ramifications existed in 2009. I’m less interested in the technicality of our calendar and more interested in the dynamic of the baseball season.