April 25, 2009 at 9:03 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Injuries, Transactions
Today Clint Sammons was recalled from AAA Gwinnett and will serve as the team’s back-up Catcher for a second stint this year. This time, however, he won’t be backing up all-star Brian McCann, he’ll be backing up our newest bench acquisition, David Ross. Brian McCann was placed on the 15-day disabled list and he’ll presumably have another round of Lasik surgery very soon, sidelining him for around 2 weeks. This seems like a smart move with the season ahead in mind. While it will certainly hurt to have McCann’s bat out of the line-up for the next two weeks, having him 100% healthy for the course of the season is much more important. McCann is off to a very slow start hitting .195/.333/.415 with 2 HR’s, 3 2B’s, and 7 BB’s. He’s also only caught 1 runner trying to steal while allowing 5 SB, which isn’t nearly a big enough sample size to draw any conclusions from, much like the offensive categories, but a bad ratio nonetheless. Having the Lasik surgery now virtually ensures that he won’t have to worry about his vision this season and can concentrate on producing on the field. I don’t know if his slow start is due to his poor vision or just a slow start, but we can’t afford to have someone in our lineup hitting .195, so having the surgery hopefully corrects that problem, which I think and hope it will.
Had something like this happened last year I’d have been very concerned, but the acquisition of David Ross makes this a sustainable temporary loss. One of Frank Wren’s biggest contributions to the organization has been the top-flight bench he’s assembled. The acquisitions of Greg Norton who serves as the club’s pinch-hitting specialist, Omar Infante who serves as a defensive replacement at every position in the infield and Center Field while holding his own with the bat, and now David Ross have shored up the club’s bench and made the Braves one of the deepest teams in the league. Wren sat and watched last year as Corky “Caveman” Miller got on base 10 times in 67 PA’s on McCann’s off days, which were rare because Miller was so offensively inept. Adding a first-rate back-up catcher was the final piece to the Braves bench.
David Ross, who signed a 2 year 3 million dollar contract with the Braves this off-season in order to back-up Brian McCann, is currently hitting .333/.500/.667 with a HR, a double, and 4 walks in 16 plate appearances. Now, these offensive numbers aren’t sustainable in the long-haul, but he isn’t a terrible offensive player. In 2006, Ross hit .255/.353/.579 with 21 HR’s, 15 2B’s, 37 BB’s, and 75 K’s in 296 PA’s. He has serious pop, though he’s not much of a high average guy. Ross has always been regarded as an excellent defensive catcher who threw out at least 40% of base stealers from 2005-2007 and has thrown out 38% in his career. Point is, he qualifies as the first-rate back-up catcher Wren needed to shore up the bench, and with McCann out for the next few weeks, Braves fans are going to really get to know and like him.
Ross wasn’t signed because Wren foresaw McCann needing more Lasik surgery. Nobody could have seen this coming in early December. The reason Wren committed 2 years and 3 million dollars to Ross was the fact that he wanted to feel comfortable giving Brian McCann regular rest, which he really hasn’t had since the Mark Teixeira trade (when we shipped Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Rangers). When you’ve got a guy on your bench you feel comfortable in the game with both offensively and defensively, you can afford to take McCann out of the line-up once a week. In turn, McCann is supposed to produce more when he’s on the field and minimize his injury risks. While the Ross acquisition was made with getting McCann regular rest in mind, it also makes losing McCann for a few weeks a more manageable situation. There’s a big difference in having David Ross in your line-up for 2 weeks and an automatic out in your line-up for 2 weeks.
Now some people were critical of Wren for committing 3 million dollars and 2 years to a back-up catcher coming off a pretty down and out season. While McCann going on the DL makes this move look better, it was still a solid low-risk move. And I’m not saying everything will be fine and dandy with McCann out of the line-up for 2 weeks. But, the Braves still feel like they have a chance win every night even with David Ross in there temporarily. I’m sure they wouldn’t have that confidence and this would be a much more devistating situation had Frank Wren not signed David Ross.