Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

09 Nov

Red v. Blue: Furcal

Welcome to a new segment on Braves Journal, where I argue with myself. Lines in red are in favor of the Braves doing whatever it takes to re-sign Rafael Furcal. Lines in blue are in favor of moving on.

This is just a conceit; the no-politics sign is still on.

The Braves’ core of players has changed over the last few years. Realistically, that core is the up-the-middle bunch of Furcal, Giles, and Andruw. The Braves’ advantage on the rest of the league is having these three plus hitters at three “defensive” spots in the lineup. And of the three, Furcal is the most valuable.

The most valuable? Are you crazy? Furcal was an average hitter last year — exactly average, with an OPS+ of 100. He was a long way away from Giles, and far short of the Joneses. Don’t leave Chipper out of the equation; when he was in the lineup, he was by far the best hitter on the team.

There’s more to the game than just batting. There’s defense, and more importantly in this case there’s the defensive spectrum. Don’t look at them versus the average; look at them versus what you’d get from a replacement. It’s a lot harder to find a guy who can put runs on the board and play gold-glove caliber defense (Furcal was robbed) at short than it is to find a guy who can play good defense and hit at second base or center.

There are probably about a dozen good major league shortstops out there. The Braves aren’t going to get one of those guys if Furcal leaves; it’s going to either be some glove specialist who can’t hit or it’s going to be the second coming of Jeff Blauser.

Wilson Betemit should take over the position if Furcal leaves, and he could be one of those dozen guys. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a more valuable player over the next four years than Furcal. He’s pretty mechanical as a shortstop but wouldn’t be the worst in the league, but it looks like he can really hit and give you Jeter Lite performance for the next five years.

You’re dreaming. Bobby got used to having a real shortstop out there and he’s not going to allow some blunderer to mess up his defense. Remember when Mark DeRosa was holding the job when Furcal got hurt? They imported Rey Sanchez to take over. Sanchez, predictably, sucked. But he made the plays!

I don’t think that the situations are really parallel. Three reasons:

  1. Betemit would be taking over the job to start the season, not midway through.

  2. Betemit is a better hitter than DeRosa; his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage last year would all have been full-season highs for DeRosa’s Braves tenure.
  3. Betemit was a hot prospect at a time, while DeRosa was just organizational fodder.

The situations are still too close for comfort. At best, Betemit will get 400 PA while some Neifi clone takes the late innings and two starts a week from him. But even if Betemit takes over, the Braves will lose a lot. Furcal is probably the fourth-best shortstop in the game right now, the best in the National League. (1. Tejada, 2. Young, 3. Jeter, 4. Furcal, 5. Rollins.) You can’t just give that up and replace him with some virtual rookie and not take a hit.

Explain that list. I can think of a number of guys who were more productive, overall or per PA, than Furcal last year. Bill Hall, Julio Lugo, Jhonny Peralta, Felipe Lopez.

None of those guys had done it before on the Major League level, though. Furcal’s level of production was pretty close to his standard.

Okay, maybe. But still, it just goes to show that Furcal-level performance isn’t that hard to find. There’s a big difference between #3 and #4 on the list, and not much between #4 and #10 or #15.

You’re leaving out defense again. Of the top three, Tejada is a good defender, and Jeter and Young are pretty bad. Most of the other guys have never been considered gold glovers either.

Neither was Furcal, until this year. Who’s to say it wasn’t a fluke?

Hard to believe that day-in, day-out performance like that could be a fluke. The Braves will miss that glove when he goes.

So we’ll pick it up elsewhere. The Braves have done that year after year, losing something at one spot and making it up elsewhere.

Look, realistically the Braves either have to let Furcal go or trade Marcus Giles. Maybe they can get through 2006 with both, but Marcus will then go into his final arb year and they’d have to move him then. Giles is the better player; the Braves should lock him up instead.

I agree that Marcus is the better player of the two measured against a zero point. But he’s more replaceable than Furcal. You can get a good bat at second base, or a good platoon (Orr/Betemit?) a lot easier than a good shortstop.

Moreover, there are some troubling signs that Marcus isn’t happy with the organization. There’s also the injury concern. While Furcal has had his problems as well, he’s played a lot more than Giles over the last three years and hasn’t shown a propensity for catastrophic injuries. Throw in that second basemen get hurt more than shortstops and are more likely to wear down over their careers (it’s true!) Furcal is the better bet to be effective over the next few years.

Unless he drives into a tree.

That’s a low blow.

Maybe. But it’s a real concern.

He got caught twice, and one time he might have been okay except for claiming he was underage when he wasn’t.

Lying makes it better! Come on. One drunk driving arrest is unfortunate. Two is a problem, or a sign that he has a problem. The team watched him like a hawk last year but they can’t do that permanently.

Why not? Baseball teams have dealt with heavy drinkers, and worse, as long as there’s been baseball. Have someone keep an eye out, make sure he doesn’t drive drunk, and he’ll live with it.

Yeah, that’s the hope. I’m not happy with the idea of relying upon a drunk driver as the engine of my offense.

Way I hear it, Marcus Giles is no choirboy either.

I’ve never heard he was arrested, though. But my main point is that Marcus is a better player. By a wide margin! Four second basemen created more runs per 27 outs than Giles last year: Roberts, Utley, Kent, and Polanco.

Wait, Utley and Polanco? Man, Ed Wade is an idiot.

True. But Marcus played a lot more than Roberts or Kent. Arguably, he was the third-most-valuable second baseman in the majors last year, and he had an ordinary season while Utley and Polanco had career years. Arguably, he’s the second-best second baseman in baseball after Kent, and Kent is old and might not be a second baseman, or an elite player, much longer.

That’s two “arguablies”. But you haven’t addressed my point that it’s harder to find elite shortstops than elite second basemen.

I’m not sure that that’s true. Historically, the Braves have had a lot harder time finding productive second basemen than shortstops. Two of the Braves’ elite prospects are shortstops but the only regular MLB second basemen they’ve produced in the last 25 years are Giles, Lemke, and Hubbard, and only Giles of the three is a productive hitter.

Tony Graffanino?

A half regular at best. And for all the position value, you underestimate the difference between Furcal and Giles as hitters. Marcus was better than Furcal by just about every hitting measure last year. He even had a higher stolen base percentage.

I don’t want to give up Marcus, but we might lose them both. If giving him up allows us to secure Furcal, we’re secure at at least one position.

But we have Marcus for two more years — the two years when Furcal is most likely to be productive. If you secure Furcal now, you run the risk of having the worst of all worlds — a hole at second base (I trust Betemit a lot more than Pete Orr), a shortstop in decline, and a payroll even less flexible than before.

Any long-term contract carries risk, but Furcal isn’t an old player, and should be good for four years. I’d rather have Betemit at second than short; the defensive downgrade would be less.

Assuming Bobby doesn’t decide to go with Orr instead.

Now you’re going after Bobby!

Okay, okay. But in the end, when in doubt I go with the better hitter. That’s Giles, easily.

Agree to disagree, then?

Okay. It’s not like it’s up to me anyway.

I’m really confused now.

138 Responses to “Red v. Blue: Furcal”

  1. 1
    Michael Says:

    That was great, Mac! I always knew you were a schizO. :>)

    It’s simpler than most think. Begin with the idea of wanting Raffy simply because what he did in the second half of this past season may be the tip of the iceberg that portends to come.

    The key is what the Braves think of Escobar since it seems they view Elvis Andrus as the second coming. Thus, even of you sign Raffy to a four year deal, he’ll be 31 when it’s over but Elvis will have just turned 17.

    However, if the Braves believe Esscober is that good then let Raffy walk and spend the $$ elsewhere.

    Here’s a crazy thought:

    Giles (and HoRam?) for Zito
    Chipper to 1B, Marte at 3B
    Laroche to Houston for Chris Burke
    Thomson, Kelly Johnson, Estrada and Reitsma to TB for Crawford and Toby Hall.

    Just a dream, but not too shabby, IMO.

  2. 2
    Michael Says:

    oops! elvis will have just turned 21. my boo boo

  3. 3
    'Rissa Says:

    That was hilarious!

  4. 4
    Stu Says:

    You’d have to flip-flop Chipper and Marte. And there’s no way the Astros give up Burke (the #10 overall selection in the draft a couple years ago) for LaRoche.

  5. 5
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Let him go!
    This is the site that had Trade Furcal in the title for over half a year. I can’t forget that. I won’t forget that.
    The money he’ll seek will be for an impact player, a keystone of the team. It will be a contract that steers the Braves financially for the next four years.
    I cannot believe that Furcal is that player. Not if the Braves continue to hold the line on the budget.
    No way.

  6. 6
    Another Alex R. Says:

    I think the key here is the price it would take to bring him back. If we can keep him for something like $32 mil over 4 years, he’d be worth the money. But $40 mil over 4 is probably too pricey. He has evolved to provide terrific defense, his on-base percentage has increased every year, and he’s getting to be one of the better leadoff hitters in the game.

    But still… 2005 was a tale of two seasons for Furcal. He had a disturbingly LaRoche-like first couple months, and never really turned the corner until July. I think Mac’s constant comparisons of Betemit to Jeter might be a slight exaggeration, but if we can get Betemit to play a competent short for approximately $9 mil a year less than we’d have to pay Furcal, that’s $9 mil we could certainly put to better use elsewhere.

    My personal threshold for resigning Furcal is $8 to $8.5 mil. I don’t want him for a higher price than that.

  7. 7
    Another Alex R. Says:

    To get Zito, we’ll have to give a blue-chipper away, like Dan Meyer for Hudson, or Dan Haren (and Daric Barton, which was just ridiculous) for Mulder.

    Which blue-chip prospect package do you think we could get rid of, and make Billy Beane happy, without mortgaging our future?

  8. 8
    ububba Says:

    I don’t think it’s much of a conversation that Marcus is better than Furcal right now. But that’s kinda irrelevant, given the Braves situation.

    I tend to buy the idea that shortstop is less replaceable. As much as it pained me to see gritty statues like Keith Lockhart eating dirt on balls any other 2B woulda snagged, it kills me more to have a subpar SS. Just my prejudice, I guess, but I believe a shortstop’s defense impacts the team the way a goaltender’s play impacts a hockey team–good or bad. Extra outs or cheap goals are brutal. Sparkling plays (like many one-of-a-kind moments that I saw Furcal have this year) or great saves deflate the other team and give you a lift. Of course, the effect on pitchers & pitch counts ought to be obvious.

    I’ll say it again: I might be wrong here, but Betemit at SS scares me. Gun to my head and heavily weighing the notion that Marcus may wanna bail anyway, I go with Furcal (esp. if there’s a hometown discount).

  9. 9
    kc Says:

    AAR, I think a package including KJ and Davies can get it done, but I am not sure if JS will mortgage this much into one year of Zito. Besides, it really depends on if Zito is really available and if there are other team chasing for Zito. Two years ago, the Braves were bidding against the Dodgers for Drew, that’s why we seemed to give up so much just for Drew and Marerro. However, there are not many teams out there trying to trade for Hudson if I remember correctly, and Beane really really likes Meyer. If Zito is indeed available, Beane will continue to accumulate cheap high ceiling pitching prospects.

    Kevin, I agree with everything you said above. Furcal is asking for an impact player money, but I definitely agree that he is not that kind of player. He is a very good player who can compliment a strong lineup very nicely, but this is something that only the rich teams like the Mets and the Cubs can afford but not the Braves.

    In terms of choosing between Marcus and Furcal, one should just look at the organization strength at the two positions in the minor league, and it’s obvious that the Braves are more ready to replace Furcal and Marcus. I am still predicting the Braves to sign a gloveman for two years and giving a chance to Wilson to prove himself next year.

  10. 10
    kc Says:

    By the way Mac, nice work. I always have this kind of conversation going on in my brain.

  11. 11
    jenny Says:

    By “played a lot more than Roberts,” you mean “didn’t play a lot more than Roberts,” right? Because according to some quick research triggered by looking at that phrase and going WTF? I discovered that the difference in games played is 9 (accounted for by Roberts’ elbow injury) and the difference in ABs is about 16, with nearly equivalent walk totals. It’s a minor nitpick, but I really don’t see how that makes it so that Marcus “played a lot more than Roberts.”

    Put me on the side of keeping Furcal. Betemit’s defense is a significant downgrade and we don’t know what’ll happen to him when he plays a whole season. Of course, don’t do whatever it takes, but I’d like us to go as far as we can, short of trading Marcus or paying Furcal $12 million.

    Question: If Rob Dibble says something, should I assume it’s wrong or fabricated?

  12. 12
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I was working from memory, but nine games is a pretty large amount.

  13. 13
    snellville jones Says:

    Great read, Mac. I do wonder how much the Escobar/Andrus angle will factor in. Should be an interesting offseason.

  14. 14
    Jim K Says:

    Looks like the Cubs want him enough to make the long term deal the Braves can’t afford. Too bad, but not catastrophic given our organizational depth at SS.

    Assuming Betemit is our only 2006 internal replacement is like last winter assuming Langerhans was our only organizational alternative in RF. Guys sometimes develop fast.

    Luis Hernandez will be 22 in June, and by all accounts fields like Belliard. We can carry him with our batting order. Or Yunel Escobar could make the jump by midseason. Or Betemit could learn to field the way Giles did. In any event, we shouldn’t spend serious money — or God forbid sacrifice a genuine prospect — to improve this position if Furcal leaves.

  15. 15
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Hernandez hits like Belliard — or worse — and you can’t carry that. No batting order can afford two pitchers.

  16. 16
    Stephen Says:

    It would be great to keep Furcal, but the Braves should not make any undue effort. We have seen Furcal long enough to appreciate his gifts, but also the fact that he is erratic, both on and off the field.

    Meanwhile, as some have suggested the Braves are stocked in shortstop prospects–at least three of which (Luis Hernandez, Escobar and Andrus) very high upsides. My gut tells me that Luis Hernandez is about to put it together and become an impressive prospect–great glove and adequate bat.

    In any event, shortstop is a `defensive’ position; teams have won with great fielding and poor hitting players at the position.

    Therefore, I would hate to see the Braves invest too much for Furcal.

  17. 17
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Hernandez hit .243/.315/.311 in AA last year. I just don’t see it. Quite possibly, the worst thing that could happen would be for him to have a good spring training. Bobby will go a long time with a guy who isn’t producing if he’s still playing good defense.

  18. 18
    jenny Says:

    Continuing with the nitpick because I’m bored, I disagree that 9 games is a big difference, at least not enough to warrant a “played a lot more” tag, and 16 ABs is pretty much nothing. Roberts also had 5 more walks than Marcus. Just picking at subjective semantics, I guess, but…I have no idea where I’m going with this.

  19. 19
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Jenny, because of the DH there are a lot more ABs in the AL than in the NL. Like nearly 10,000 of them last year — 88120 versus 78215 — despite more than 300 fewer team games. So I guess you can say that the entire AL plays a lot more than the entire NL.

    I do think that nine games — more than five percent of the schedule — is pretty significant.

  20. 20
    EE Says:

    I think you all should start accepting the notion that Furcal is not going to be back. I think the braves would be foolish to give him more than 8 mil a year, like someone said earlier he doesn’t deserve that money based on the second half of last season. I think the Braves should defenitely explore the possibilty of moving Marte for Bullpen and shortstop help. They should call their old buddies the d-rays and talk about a package featuring one of our ss prospects, John Thompson and Adam LaRoche for Lugo and one of their multitude speedy outfielders, preferably Crawford.

  21. 21
    EE Says:

    i meant “based solely on the second half last season”

  22. 22
    VikingDawg Says:

    Maybe Jenny doesn’t think 9 games is that big a deal since he was playing for the O’s. Imagine if you lost the division by 2 games. 9 games without one of your stars would seem alot more important then.

    As for Furcal, I agreed with Mac during the season. We should have traded him, but with his crappy 1st half he was undervalued so I don’t blame the Braves for keeping him and winning the division.

    The Braves won’t be able to resign him when both the Cubs (who have a ton of money) and the Mets are looking to spend and Furcal figures to be a top-5 FA. Just not happening so move on folks.

  23. 23
    Andrew Says:

    I think the bigger thing we are missing is that Furcal provides that great speed in the leadoff spot. His absence there will be much more noticeable because we have no other open spots. (Remember Giles first year when Raffy was hurt and how lack-luster Marcus was in the 1 spot). So obviously Raffy’s replacement will need to also bat leadoff.

  24. 24
    Stephen Says:

    Luis Hernandez’s season does not look impressive, but his age (21) should be taken into account. I might add that in his previous years he has started terribly and then hit better as the season progressed. Notably, this did not happen in 2005, but he would not be the first player to struggle some at AA. My fear is that this might be as good as he will hit; in addition, made more errors than in prevous seasons. Nonetheless, he is young and it is not uncommon for players to develop without putting together consistent statistics.

    I might add that even with the low average Hernandez at least demonstrated that he has good plate discipline.

    I did not mean to imply that he would or should start immediately in Atlanta (should Furcal leave), but I do think he has the chance to become a shortstop who could win gold gloves without being too much of an offensive liability.

  25. 25
    JaredL Says:

    This is probably really off topic, but is there any chance that the Braves will pick up any of the free agent former braves veteran relief pitchers? Seanez, Remlinger, Ligtenberg, Alfonseca or Mike Stanton. I don’t know, just a thought, they have experience and know the braves system although McDowell might not have the resurrecting quality of Mazzone however, I would like to think the system has that effect.

  26. 26
    JoeyT Says:

    Someone who comments here has a nagging suspicion Seanez will be on the staff next year. It could happen.

  27. 27
    Maverick Says:

    hmm….Bobby is too old to be dealing with all this pressure, the Braves should just hire all of us to sort out this problem. That was really weird MAc but very interesting. First of all thnx for rating Young over Jeter which some people still can’t seem to see. Now to get to Furcal well we all know he is very important part of the Braves but don’t worry if he doesnt get signed back I’m sure we can count on Bobby and JS to come up with some thing that is going to come close to numbers of Furcal. I just hope the Braves can pull it off cause I’m suppose to move To Atlanta next year and i don’t want to see the streak Broken.

  28. 28
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Maverick, the Braves have three things going for them right now that make it very hard for them to finish lower than second in the division: the Phillies, Natspos, and Mets, three of the losingest franchises in sports and three of the most incompetently managed franchises in baseball (for the Natspos, it’s not their fault, but they suck regardless). The fourth team is the Marlins, who have never won a division title in their history and who will certainly not have their best team next year.

    For the Braves to lose, one of those teams is going to have to pick up some slack, and I sure as hell wouldn’t bet the house on it. If we had to be in the same division as the Indians or Athletics, I’d be scared stiff.

  29. 29
    JoeyT Says:

    The Mets have all the pieces to be awful good next year, and the Phillies bring back pretty much the same club that almost made the playoffs. The Marlins also look hella dangerous.

    The only pushovers in the division are the Expos, who have no bats and a shallow rotation.

  30. 30
    Aram Says:

    The Mets are the most dangerous competition. This is David Wright’s team now, and the kid is good. If they build a bullpen, they’ll be tough.

  31. 31
    NMS Says:

    “The Mets are the most dangerous competition. This is David Wright’s team now, and the kid is good. If they build a bullpen, they’ll be tough.”

    Trade that failed 1st round pick Heil something..that Nazi…that shitty Korean pitcher and that Pettie kid for Baez! Please!

    Seriously how sweet would it be if the rumors were true and its Heilman/Seo/Petit (or even 2 of the 3) for Beaz/Huff

  32. 32
    kc Says:

    If the Mets and the Phillis ever stop handing out stupid contracts, then the Braves has no chance simply because of the difference of $15 to $20 million additional payroll. However, I just can’t see the two teams are good enough to win the division with the pitching rotation that they have. Pedro is the only scary starting pitcher on the two teams, and he is on the down side of his career.

    The Marlins can not compete with the Braves without a new stadium, and the Natspos have no chance until they have a real owner. So, the Braves are safe until one of those four teams sort out their each respective fundamental problem.

  33. 33
    kc Says:

    By the way, the biggest nightmare will be seeing Kevin Gryboski coming back, which is a real possibility!!!

  34. 34
    bledsoe Says:

    I guess I am surprised to find that I just don’t really care. Your schizo conceit was appropriate: I just can’t get worked up over the outcome of this. It’s clearly not a nobrainer either way.

  35. 35
    Stu Says:

    I agree with you, bledsoe. I was firmly on the Keep Furcal side before, but now, I just can’t decide and can see good coming from either outcome. I think a lot of how I view this will depend on how the freed-up funds are spent if/when we lose Furcal.

  36. 36
    JoeyT Says:

    kc, why the knock on the Mets rotation? Which of Pedro, Heilman, Seo, and Glavine was bad last year? Their offense failed them, not their starters.

    And while the Phillies rotation looks bad, they won an awful lot of games last year with what they have.

    And why can’t the Marlins compete with the Braves without a new stadium?

    All three of those teams still scare me in a very real way. I only really feel comfortable laughing at the Expos. Ha ha ha. Ha ha. Ha.

  37. 37
    Jonathan Says:

    Just kinda trying to tie together a couple items mentioned on this thread, and on earlier ones:
    Are we pretty much agreed that, whether Furcal chooses to return or not, we should offer arbitration? I know most who comment here say “yes” regardless, and several have mentioned about JS being reluctant to offer arbitration because of the Maddux situation.
    What I’m thinking, though, is that we’ve got flexibility we didn’t have when Maddux accepted. In theory, they’re still talking about making a bid for Furcal, which means there’s money budgeted. Even if he accepts, and wins the amount he’s looking for (kind of the “worst-case” scenario, but it’s not really worst case because it means we have a good shortstop for another year, and not stuck with a long-term albatross of a contract), then that triggers a trade of Thomson. The money saved there would cover the extra money won with Furcal. So pitching takes a hit, but we don’t have to worry about replacing Furcal’s offense & defense. And we have young guys who could hopefully step in to Thomson’s spot at close to his level of performance.
    One other item about Furcal – Cox & others mentioned that he was hurt early in the season last year. Given his 2nd half showing, it would appear that the injury significantly hurt his early performance. So, if he’s past his injury (it does not recur), we could expect big things. But injuries often have a way of recurring, even sometimes showing up in seemingly unrelated ways. Obviously, there is no way to know for sure whether this makes Furcal more likely to be injured again this season (or future seasons, if he signs a long-term contract). But it is worth nothing…

  38. 38
    Tanto Says:

    I’m not so sure Mike Young is really better than Furcal. He’s an average hitter away from the AL’s Coors Field, and he’s an atrocious fielder — nearly every metric says so. If I’m starting a team in a neutral park and I need a shortstop, I’m taking Furcal over Young (but A-Rod over both!).

    Did you see the rumors where the Yankees are considering Furcal for center field? It may eventually get to the point where the worst shortstop on that team is the starter.

  39. 39
    Mac Thomason Says:

    The Braves should offer arbitration. I don’t know if they will. I don’t think that the Maddux situation is the real problem. (Did you know that arbitration contracts aren’t guaranteed? Really. You can cut them and only pay them for six weeks.) I’m afraid that the real problem is that the Braves don’t want the extra draft picks because they’d have to pay a million dollars out in bonuses. Remember that bonus list that someone reproduced a few days ago?

  40. 40
    JoeyT Says:

    I must be missing something. They don’t have to sign their draft picks, right? In fact, it gives them more leverage to say, “We’re not going to give a large bonus. Either sign or wait a year.” They lose nothing by having the extra pick. All they gain is a shot at a player they would not have had otherwise. If they acquire that pick with that understanding, I don’t see any negatives to having an additional pick.

  41. 41
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I don’t get it either. But there are other teams that have pursued similar strategies. That’s why the Giants go out and sign the Michael Tuckers of the world before the arbitration deadline — so they won’t have a first round pick that they’re sure to screw up.

  42. 42
    Chris Says:

    If Furcal wants to take a one year deal for 8MM or so then great; it postpones a lot of decision making one more year and Furcal’s eventual replacements have another year of development to sort themselves out. Hopefully Betemit would get 2-300 PAs to get an idea if he could be a servicable replacement or just a bench guy.

    Regarding defense: I seem to remember the Braves putting up with Blauser for a decent amount of time; with a defensive caddy I gotta think Betemit could be Blauser jr. and that isn’t half bad.

  43. 43
    clarke Says:

    I guess at the GM meetings the Yankees are floating around the idea of signing Furcal and throwing him into center…How fun to have so much money that you can look at the free agent period like a fantasy draft!

  44. 44
    kc Says:

    Chris, Furcal will not accept arbitration for sure. He will have five-year offers on table waiting for him to choose. There is no reason for him not to take the security approach. On the other hand, I agree with you on Blauser. That’s why I have always said the sensible thing for the Braves to do is giving a chance to Betemit to prove himself while having a Belliard like gloveman on the bench. I don’t like to waste a bench position on a gloveman, but that’s the approach JS and Bobby have used before.

    JoeyT, the Marlins are almost certainly going to trade Delgado this offseason. Without the stadium deal agreed and the future being uncertain, the Marlins can not afford to keep Delgado at $13.5M in 2006 whereas they only paid $4M to him last season. The whole transaction was structured under the assumption that a stadium deal was agreed in this year. The Marlins’ payroll will only going to be at $60M, and they are going to lose Burnett and looking to trade away Delgado and Lowell. They will certainly not be as good as last season.

    In my opinion, the Phillies need to 1) trade Thome away and use the Thome money to sign a true front line starting pitcher to go with Myers, Lieber, and Wolf; and 2) keeping Wagner before I consider them to be a scary team. However, they will at least need to eat one-third of Thome’s contract before any team considers trading for Thome. That team is just hindered by big contracts given out by Ed Wade. Yes, they are not a bad team, but I think 88 wins are pretty much the most they can win with such inconsistent starting pitching. Besides, the Braves always seem to outsmart the Phillies. Let’s see if Pat Gillick can work wonders on this team.

    I agree that Glavine wasn’t bad, but he is not the front line pitcher he once was. Heilman was good, but they never put him in the rotation in favor of Benson. Now they are considering trading Heilman and Seo for Huff and Beaz? The Mets keep using their advantage in extra monies on mediocre players like Benson and Zambrano, and I don’t see them being dangerous until they stop doing so. David Wright is a great player, but that’s the only great thing the Mets have in their lineup. Jose Reyes and Beltran are completely over-rated. So, the Mets starting pitchers are either mighty old or mediocre, their offense sucks except Wright, and their bullpen is even worse if they can not lure Wagner away from the Phillies.

  45. 45
    doubledawg Says:

    If betemit knew you called him “blauser jr”, he’d probably go Uge on your ass. I dont think any jury in GA would convict.

  46. 46
    JoeyT Says:

    kc, I don’t believe that Heilman and Seo for Huff and Baez rumor. It’s just too lopsided.

    However, if that actually happens, I will not stop laughing for two months.

    Still, even if though they’re not starting out with one of Heilman or Seo in the rotation, the possibility that they could wise up and cut their losses with Benson makes them dangerous. An optimal rotation of Pedro-Heilman-Glavine-Seo-Zambrano looks deep and scary. It’s also better than the Braves by a lot.

    Offense is a problem, but the NL offense in the world series last year featured a bashing MVP-type third baseman and only one above-average offensive outfielder. If Floyd stays healthy (like last year), the Mets have two. A potentially deep rotation that can bring it every night with Cameron, Wright, and Floyd in the lineup classifies them as a threat. A big one.

    Yeah, the Phillies pitchers don’t seem that scary, but Myers, Lidle, and Leiber are decent (Wolf blows). A key addition, like, as you say, another starting pitcher, could put them over the top.

    I see about the Marlins. Yeah, losing two studs in one offseason would be difficult to overcome.

  47. 47
    kc Says:

    JoeyT, really don’t know what Omar is thinking nowadays. The way Heilman finished out the season, it may be the best idea to try Heilman as a closer. I never remember Heilman being a good starting pitcher. Of course, giving up a grand slam to Brian Jordan will do that to anyone’s brain. Seo will need to prove again next season that last season was no fluke.

    Was it Omar who gave that stupid contract to Benson? If that’s the case, I don’t think they will cut him…

  48. 48
    50PoundHead Says:

    I think the Braves will offer arbitration because they can probably afford Raffy for one year, given Hampton’s insurance money and the expected departure of Kolb.

  49. 49
    tigger101023 Says:

    What are the signs that Marcus isn’t happy with the Braves? Things like talking to Bochy or other things? He sure looked fine this year. Because my preference is to keep Giles and lock him up long-term, but obviously, the worst thing that could happen would be to let Furcal and be unable to lock up Giles. We really do need to keep one of them.

  50. 50
    JoeyT Says:

    Well, the Benson contract is almost certainly guaranteed, so I was actually talking about moving him to the pen.

  51. 51
    JoeyT Says:

    tigger, spike asked the same thing in this thread, and no one really had an answer. The Marcus stuff is just rumor.

  52. 52
    Kyle S Says:

    An optimal rotation of Pedro-Heilman-Glavine-Seo-Zambrano looks deep and scary.

    I dunno about that, Joey. Pedro is fine. The other four guys are all basically good #4 starters. Let’s compare them:

    Slot Braves Mets Advantage
    #1 Smoltz Pedro Mets
    #2 Hudson Heilman Braves
    #3 Thomson Glavine Even
    #4 Sosa Seo Even
    #5 CJames Zambrano “Mets”

    Sure, we’re going to use Horacio instead of “I’m Chuck James, b1tch!” and Sosa won’t be as good. Still, Glavine will be 40 and doesn’t strike anyone out any more, Heilman and Seo have shaky track records, Zambrano is Zambrano, and Pedro is coming off his first two-year period of >30 starts per year since 1998. I just don’t see the Mets rotation as being “deep and scary”, nor all that much better than ours.

  53. 53
    Kyle S Says:

    Mac, your site hates the pre tag.

  54. 54
    Smitty Says:

    Our rotation is much better than theirs. Pedro is the only scary pitcher on their staff. We have two guys whou could be a #1 and Thompson would be a good 3 and a decent 2 when he is on. Sosa looked good all year. If he can cut down his walks, he will dominate.

  55. 55
    Smitty Says:

    This was in the Miami Paper

    “The bullpen is an area the Marlins will be concentrating on this winter, and if (Todd) Jones — who has expressed a desire to sign with the Atlanta Braves — does not come back, Beinfest indicated he likely will pursue a deal with Guillermo Mota, who is eligible for arbitration after an injury-plagued season in which he made $2.6 million.”

    This is the first I have heard of this. I thought we might try to sign him, but wow.

  56. 56
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Jones is from the I-20 area between Birmingham and Atlanta, so no surprise. I don’t know if the Braves would be interested. All things being equal I’d prefer Farnsworth.

  57. 57
    Smitty Says:

    I thikw e could do worse than Jones (Kolb.) I think if we used him right, he would be very effective.

  58. 58
    CTom Says:

    At least with Furcal gone we don’t have to cringe when he does his “fake a bunt” free pitch.

  59. 59
    Kirk Says:

    I dunno, Todd Jones has the potential to be Kolb revisited. He could implode at any time. I would rather roll the dice with Farnsworth, even if I had to pay a bit more. Re: Furcal, this was an interesting post but all academic I’m afraid. I can’t picture the Braves going 4/$40M, and it’s going to take at least that to sign him. Offering arbitration is a no brainer, and I don’t think JS is scared of the extra picks ala Sabean.

  60. 60
    ububba Says:

    I’m with Mac on the Farnesworth vs. Todd Jones conversation. Last year was the only time Todd Jones was ever that effective. A Kolb in waiting? (That would be hard to do, actually.)

    Plus, I could do without another guy on the team who makes bigoted comments.

  61. 61
    JoeyT Says:

    Carpenter won Cy over Clemens. Clemens actually came in third to Dontrelle.

    Unlike the ridiculous AL vote, this one’s arguable. I’d give the nod to Clemens because of his park, but Carpenter was at least next best.

  62. 62
    50PoundHead Says:

    I think Jones is a decent set-up guy who had an unexpected great year. I agree with the Kolb-in-waiting analogy.

    I hate getting into the Furcal v. Giles debate, because it’s so darn close. I almost say “flip a coin.” They are both good, but not particularly similar, so it’s hard to get a valid comparison.

    If Furcal leaves, we will miss him. “How much?” is the question. I think we’re going to miss him more than we think we will right now.

  63. 63
    chuck Says:

    Ken Rosenthal expects the Braves to go after Farnsworth hard , probably already said that.. but oh well.

    Even if we sign him, I would like JS to at least try and bring in Jones. You never know maybe he will be cheap ( doubtful ).

  64. 64
    Smitty Says:

    I think Peter Gammons should go on TV one day and ask Ken Rosenthal to quit doing a cheap impersonation of him and John Clayton.

  65. 65
    Smitty Says:

    Ken Rosenthal-
    “Yankees general manager Brian Cashman asked one of Furcal’s representatives if Furcal would be willing to play center. Furcal, 28, likely will rule nothing out at this early stage of free agency — he routinely shags fly balls with Braves teammate Andruw Jones and jokes about replacing him in center. He not only is athletic enough to play the position, but also could bat leadoff for the Yankees, forming a dynamic 1-2 combination with Derek Jeter.”

    This is another ploy to drive up the price on Furcal. Now we have no chance, but I think this means Furcal’s boys are done using the Mets and we shouldn’t worry about that as a possiblity.

    Ken also says that Leo will call pitches to the pitch and not the catcher like he did in Atlanta. Leo and Bobby never called pitches! Unless three rocks and a spit means fastball. Do you think Leo would have told Wholers to throw a softball pitch to Jimmy in 1996? Rosenthal is an idiot and now a tool.

  66. 66
    JoeyT Says:

    That would make TWO players on the team better suited for shortstop than Jeter.

  67. 67
    drew Says:

    Betty’s doing what he can (from Rotoworld):

    Wilson Betemit went 4-for-4 with a homer and four RBI for Escogido of the Dominican Winter League yesterday.

    Betemit is building a case to take over as Atlanta’s starting shortstop next season. He’s batting .368/.438/.702 in 57 at-bats and leads the DWL with five homers. Nov. 10 – 3:08 pm et

  68. 68
    Smitty Says:

    I could see Ken Rosenthal saying-

    “The Braves are interested in trading Andruw Jones, Chipper, and Smoltz to the Yankees for a bag of magic beans and George Costanza.”

  69. 69
    Kevin Lee Says:

    Does anyone know what kind of money Trevor Hoffman is asking?
    I have this fantasy of him and Rudy Seanez anchoring a bullpen as the kids learn their craft.
    Belive me, I’d like to see Farnsworth come back, but I’d much rather see Hoffman than Todd Jones.

  70. 70
    Smitty Says:

    John Smoltz is going to play in a new pro golf league this weekend as a pro golfer. Kind of funny.

  71. 71
    tigger101023 Says:

    I really think Betemit’s bat can make up for what will likely be average defense. And this is where the difference in philosophy comes in. It seems Bobby would rather have a good glove regardless of whether they can hit (a la Belliard or Neifi Perez), than take a chance on average defense being made up with the bat. He might be too old school to buy into Betemit’s bat making up for the drop-off in D. Because Betemit hit pretty well last year. He is a different kind of SS than Furcal, but not necessarily worse, if you take hitting AND defense into account


  72. 72
    doubledawg Says:

    we better hope smoltz doesnt do to well or we’ll lose him for ’06. during college i caddied one summer, and several times during smoltz’s DL stint, he would “stay in atlanta for a doctors visit” while the team went west, only to show up and play golf. Not sure how golf affects the elbow, but does show where his passion lies. not only that, but his best friend and golfing mate was a world class scumbag who bragged about having sex with 14 yr olds over seas. thus, i for one do not buy the Holy Roller bit from SMoltz. I think a power pitcher should be evil anyway.

  73. 73
    Mike Says:

    I too would like to see Hoffman closing out games for us. I’m surprised no ones mentioned it on here before.

  74. 74
    drew Says:

    Hoffman has already laughed at 2/10 from the Padres, and since they hired his brother for their coaching staff I’m pretty sure that he’s also giving them some sort of hometown discount if they come back with a higher offer. Plus he’s due for another horrible season-ending injury soon.

    If Todd Jones would come over for a year at 1-1.5mil with a buttload of incentives, he’d be well worth having as a set-up man.

  75. 75
    kc Says:

    Trevor Hoffman is seeking 3-years, 25-27M range. So, everybody can put this idea to bed.

    Since the stupid Cubs handed a 3-years $15M contract to Ryan Dempster, that’s pretty much what I am expecting Farnsworth and Todd Jones will get for being an unproven closer with only one year of track record. To be honest, this is really a bargain because I think Farnsworth will easily save 35-40 a season, not like Kolb and Reitsma. What really bothers me is that the price of all these unproven closer may make Reitsma’s potential arbitration price of $2.5 looking rather cheap, and we will end up seeing another season of Reitsma after all.

    By the way, there are lots of interesting rumors on this site as well:

    Reportedly, “the Braves have offered [Furcal] a 3-year deal, but are ready to up to 4-years and maybe even 4-years + a 5th year option.”

    I think the Yankees should sign Furcal to play CF, get Michael Young to play 2B, Renteria to play 1B, and Orlando Cabrera to play LF. This will ensure Jeter to win a Gold Glove every year!!!

  76. 76
    Joe Says:

    I don’t know if anyones talked about this yet, but Trot Nixon is a free agent after next season. What are the chances of trading for him?

  77. 77
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Just about nil, considering that Damon is a free agent, the Sox are looking at trading Ramirez, and they have few upper-level prospects.

  78. 78
    ryan c Says:

    i remember a subpar ss in the nl who was on the winningest team in the national league. eckstein is very pesky, but by no means caliber. if furcal gets an offer he cant refuse, i hope we can pick up a bat (like dunn,crawford, etc..) that can match up with this year’s nl team to beat (cards).

    not a bad lineup… just worried about the defensive aspect

  79. 79
    Maverick Says:

    Ohh you’ve also got to worry about the strikeout aspect with Francoeur and Dunn free swinging awayyyyyyyy… but yeah It’s probably good enough to get us through the first round of playoffs??. But i don’t think our picthing matches up very well against the Cards.

  80. 80
    david15 Says:

    dunn isn’t a free swinger at all. he just has a hard time making contact because he tries to hit it five miles on every swing.

  81. 81
    kc Says:

    We had this discussion on Dunn before. I would like to have Dunn only if he is replacing LaRoche at first base, I don’t want him if he is going to be the leftfielder.

  82. 82
    kc Says:

    According to AJC:

    “Braves assistant GM Dayton Moore was among three candidates to interview for the Boston GM job with Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino.

    Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden and Minnesota Twins assistant GM Wayne Krivsky also interviewed for the post vacated by Theo Eptstein, who quit at the end of October.”

    Never heard of Krivsky before, but seems like Dayton is not facing tough competition for the job…

  83. 83
    Kirk Says:

    Looks like Javier Vazquez is going to be on the market:

  84. 84
    Kirk Says:

    More on point for this post, GM meetings end without reaching an agreement with Furcal (no surprise there). Agent thinks he can get a 5-yr deal. Link:

  85. 85
    doubledawg Says:

    Trot Nixon would be the second coming of BJ Surhoff. STruggle against NL pitching, then cry about wanting to go back home.

  86. 86
    tiiger101023 Says:

    Dayton Moore update

    Sox brass lays groundwork (link)

    “Jim Bowden (Washington GM), Dayton Moore (Atlanta assistant GM) and Wayne Krivsky (Minnesota assistant GM) all met with Lucchino and Werner. Of the trio, only Moore [so far] has been told to expect a second interview.”

    The only encouraging thing I’ve seen is acknowledged he could be difficult to get him from the Braves IF (big if) he is promised the GM job when JS retires. Which could be as early as next year. I wonder about the complexities of choosing one Asst GM over another. I haven’t heard where Frank Wren fits in all of this. Just because some people (like me) assumed that Dayton’s promotion made him the heir apparent doesn’t mean that his actually is. I sure hope he is, though…

  87. 87
    Tennessee Brave Says:

    On the Cubs official website, the interactive poll question is “Which of the following free agents would you most want the Cubs to sign?”, with the choices being Furcal, Burnett, B. Giles, Damon, Jacque Jones, and Millwood. I was surprised to see that Johnny Damon was a very solid favorite, getting 45% of the vote, with Furcal getting 30%. No one else was near them. If you were a Cubs fan (and we all thank the good Lord that we are NOT) who would YOU want?

  88. 88
    kc Says:

    I can understand a normal Cub fan would prefer Damon over Furcal simply because he played for Boston.

  89. 89
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I thought that the Sox might hire Moore for an assistant’s job, but GM? They’re pretty steeped in sabermetrics over there.

  90. 90
    Another Alex R. Says:

    By the by, would it be worth trying to acquire Javy Vasquez? Other than the Florida teams, we’re geographically the closest to his family in Puerto Rico; we’re not going to bash him like the Yankees or let him rot on a losing squad like the Expos, and he might actually be good in a pitcher’s park. He’s a horse, and his strikeouts haven’t been going down. He’d be a nice anchor to the rotation, especially if we package John Thomson to go somewhere else.

    He’s definitely being paid too much money, so we’d have to get the Diamondbacks to pick up some of that. But he’d definitely eat innings and take some of the strain off the bullpen if he were in the rotation, and take some of the pressure off our injury-plagued starting rotation (Hudson’s always a risk, and unfortunately so is Smoltzie).

    What do you guys think?

  91. 91
    csg Says:

    I dont know how good he will be, but MLB Rumors is showing that the Braves are very interested in SS Julio Lugo. I believe me was around 3.5mil this year. I would still rather give Betemit the shot for 500K

  92. 92
    csg Says:

    Splitting his time between second base and third base for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, Schuerholz didn’t put up big power numbers, but he began to see the ball better down the stretch.

    This is funny, go to this website. They talk about him seeing the ball better down the stretch, but the photo looks like he is swinging w/ his eyes closed! Very funny

  93. 93
    Keith Says:

    The STEVE PHILLIPS article at predicts Furcal going to the Cubs, Farnsworth re-siging to close, and Alex Gonzalez signing as the new SS. We’ll see if he’s a better prognosticator than he was a general manager.

  94. 94
    JoeyT Says:

    Alex Gonzalez? I’d much rather have Betemit in there. Betemit looked pretty good at third last year, and it would have to be a hell of a defensive tradeoff to drop down from a potential .300 hitter to a guy with a .245/.291/.391 career line.

  95. 95
    JoeyT Says:

    Unless, of course, he’s talking about the OTHER Alex Gonzalez as that “defensive backup” guy. I could handle that.

  96. 96
    Tennessee Brave Says:

    Speaking of Steve Phillips, has everyone seen these “simulated news conferences” where he plays the GM of certain teams on SportsCenter? This has got to be the DUMBEST idea ESPN has ever had. I mean, the ’50 States in 50 Days’ thing was pretty lame, but this is just absolutely ridiculous. I pretty much live with my television on ESPN, but it is getting stupider by the day.

  97. 97
    Keith Says:

    Nope, it’s Mr. .245/.291/.391 career line … here’s ESPN’s scouting report on him:


    On the negative side, Gonzalez still never has drawn more than 33 walks in a season, and last year he ranked last in the majors in on-base percentage. However, the Marlins have stuck with him because they view him as the most dangerous No. 8 hitter in the game. A trained mistake hitter, Gonzalez needs to do a better job tracking quality breaking balls on the outer half. Deceptively strong, he tends to grow enamored with his power stroke at the expense of situational hitting. Righthanders ate him up by preying on his unwillingness to take balls off the plate. Lacking the speed to leg out hits, he is prone to long slumps.

    Baserunning & Defense

    For a middle infielder, Gonzalez never has been much of a basestealer, and his baserunning is just decent. His defense has been Gold Glove quality for the past few years, but the rest of the league is still figuring that out. He has a cannon arm and has thrown runners out from his knees from deep in the hole on several occasions. He cut down on the sloppy errors that had plagued him in the past and tied a career-low with just 16 miscues.”

  98. 98
    Keith Says:

    BTW, that scouting report is from last winter, and doesn’t cover the 2005 season.

  99. 99
    Keith Says:

    And editorially – I concur with JoeyT, and certainly hope the Braves do NOT sign Cristian Guzman lite! It’s entirely possible Luis Hernandez would be better than Alex Gonzalez next season, and as discussed, Luis Hernandez sounds like a bad idea (as starter, anyway).

  100. 100
    JC Says:

    Is there anything sadder than John Jr. playing in the Braves organization? The dude is 25 and can’t slug .400 in the AFL. Unless you play SS or catcher, that ain’t going to cut it. For Sr. to put his son in this situation is just cruel. Do you think scouts are going to be honest with him about his own son? Jr. has to look around and see all of these young guys outplaying him and wonder why he’s there. And he doesn’t have to think about it all that long.

  101. 101
    EE Says:

    I’m not that worried about John Jr. People ride their father’s coattails all the time. I will be worried if it looks like he might somehow find his way onto the Major League roster though.

  102. 102
    JoeyT Says:

    This is sadder.

  103. 103
    David Remy Says:

    You’re breaking me, JoeyT!

  104. 104
    Clark Says:

    Furcal’s agent says he wants 5-6 years at $50m+ over that time frame.

    Guess that means we’re looking elsewhere…

  105. 105
    kc Says:

    As some of us have said all along, let’s just forget about Furcal. I have prepared myself for the beginning of the Wilson Betemit era. No, I don’t want the Marlins’ Alex González. I don’t mind signing the other one as the gloveman backing up Betemit though.

  106. 106
    James Says:

    Betemit is not going to get it done, five bucks on it. Bring in Tom Gordon and Scot Shields, both getting opportunities to close and set-up. Johnny Gomes in left, someone’s gotta go from Tampa Bay (Aubrey Huff, Delmon Young, Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, Gomes) Too many OF. Would love to have Crawford and his discounted contract. Gomes looked great in 3/4 of a season.
    Forget about ol’ DUI, Oops, I mean Furcal.

    ATL___Giles, Davies, LaRoche, Marte, Boyer


    TB___Jorge Cantu, Carl Crawford

    JS: Get your thumb out of your butt and GET’R’DONE

  107. 107
    jenny Says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought Dayton Moore was not real into sabermetrics? Maybe I’m mixing him up with someone else but I thought he was more into scouting and less into numbers, which would make him a good balance to the Sox FO. They have Bill James. They don’t need any stats help. While they do need help in firing Larry “I didn’t go to Theo’s press conference because John Henry was going to PRAISE ME and humble soul that I am, I couldn’t take that” Lucchino, Dayton Moore unfortunately looks like a pretty good fit and it looks like the Sox are pretty darned interested in him, seeing as how he’s the first candidate they’ve called back.

    Announcement: I just found $100 in cash in my backpack. I am rich.

  108. 108
    jenny Says:

    And goodbye Furcal. Thanks for all you’ve done, but you’re not worth $50 million.

  109. 109
    david15 Says:

    James, not only would that trade be retarded, it’d be insane.

    Even assuming Cantu and Giles are even (which they aren’t), giving up Davies, Laroche, Marte and Boyer for a left fielder with a career .320 obp is beyond Mets stupid.

    There’s a good chance that would compete for the dumbest trade in history award.

  110. 110
    Maverick Says:

    Hold your Horses James that’s a ridiculous trade. I admit Jorge Cantu did have a great season last yr but lets see if he’s going to do that again, now if they want to give us Kazmir(no chance)in that trade then i’ll accept. But for Now we’ll just leave them with the d-rays so they can play pressure free. Stay focus on things that are possible….

  111. 111
    second bass Says:

    okay…’s a possibility I haven’t seen discussed yet.
    What if Furcal goes away via free agency, Betemit becomes the starting SS….with Scheurholz Jr. as the backup/utility guy? Luis Hernandez sure ain’t in the AFL, and Jr. is…..a place to showcase PROSPECTS. Jr. a prospect? Sounds like a setup for him to crack the roster this year….sort of a now or never kind of thing. I’d bet Sr. was counting on a September call up, but if Furcal goes, who knows? I didn’t realize Jr. was 25….that really puts a different light on the situation.

  112. 112
    Stu Says:

    Yeah, I’m with david15 and Maverick…that would be the worst trade in the history of the world.

  113. 113
    James Says:

    Ok, I am a fool, but Giles is not suited for Atlanta, Cantu has played short, and can play short, Lugo would be a nice fit, and no… I think Carl Crawford is one hell of an OF… Maybe you are just too blind to look at his career stats… Go do it, he’s better than every LF since Chipper…

  114. 114
    James Says:

    Throw in Brazelton and Colome…my bad

  115. 115
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Dewon Brazelton still hasn’t shown he can actually be a good, or even adequate, major league pitcher. Jesus Colome is a completely average bullpen guy.

    But everyone needs to stop fantasizing about Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli. The Devil Rays signed them both to multiyear contracts and aren’t gonna get rid of either one.

    I think we should pick up Alfonseca, he’s a free agent and he was spectacular for us a couple years ago. Maybe we can get him for 2 years, $6 million. I’d rather have him than Reitsma for the same money. Then we can see if we can resign Farnsworth, and we’ll have a nice bullpen in a hurry.

  116. 116
    James Says:

    Not really… The octopus man sucked last year, he was good for us yes, but i think he is too old, Crawford can be made available, for one because they have a bazillion left fielders (Hollins, Gomes, Young, Upton?, Huff, Gathright) TOM FREAKIN GORDON needs to be signed by us to close, not Kyle “I throw too hard” Farnsworth. The Farnsworth experiment was good and fine, and believe me I love him to death, but not for my ATL Braves. I do not want Langy in left for us, and if you want me to fantasize, Frenchy will suck so bad beginning the season he will ride the bench, he has a great arm, and great moxy, but he is a smaller version of a hybrid of Adum Dunn and Chipper Jones (A free swinger who tries too hard) I think the rotation will colapse nex season, HONESLTY ask yourself if you think Smoltz can repeat last year and log the same if not more innings than last year. Thomson is a trade chip. If we keep him it will be a $4.5 million mistake. I really like Scott Eyre or Linebrink to hold it down in the bullpen. Boyer will do grea things as will Joey Devine. Braves will finish 3rd in the division behind Philly and NY. The finish is kept in mind wih Betemit at short, Andruw having an average year, a full season with Chip, and a Giles .300, 15, 70 season. I think the string of luck is over. I cannot see everything working itself out, and if it does I will act like I never said a word, but I am pessimistic with the Ownership and Free Agency. I think Schuerholz is rightfully froogle and Furcal will be missed. It sucks. Jonny Gomes would add a lot of pop. I wish to wake up one morning and have RHP Wang pop out of the Braves closet, he looked good.with the YANKS. Dammit, why not try to get BJ UPTON??? He is sucking, and should be made available despite being atrocious in the field. I read online that Joey Gathright once jumped over 3 cars. So he jumps cars… Why not Gathright?

  117. 117
    Aram Says:

    Why not trust JS and Cox and let them go to work, since they are batting about 1.000 in building division champions since ’91. We are in good hands.

  118. 118
    david15 Says:

    Dunn and Chipper aren’t anywhere close to free swingers. What about this can’t you understand?

  119. 119
    Mike Says:

    Sorry to get off topic but GO GAMECOCKS!

  120. 120
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Antonio Alfonseca is 33, and Tom Gordon is turning 38 in a week. Not to mention that Joe Torre has pitched him MORE THAN 170 INNINGS the last two years on his reconstructed arm. His arm is going to fall off, just like Paul Quantrill’s arm already has, and soon. Alfonseca’s inconsistent, but I’d trust him before I’d trust Tom Gordon.

    Likewise, Chien-Ming Wang is a young pitcher whose entire mechanics make him injury-prone; that short-arm stuff is what got Matt Mantei in trouble. I don’t want him either.

    The Braves have utterly no chance at Scott Linebrink. The Padres would do absolutely anything to keep him. Wishing for him is like wishing for Scot Shields–they’d be great on our team, but we have no shot of getting them.

    And B.J. Upton… he’s not going anywhere. You just have to trust me on this one.

  121. 121
    James Says:

    sorry about the flash comparison… How about otsuka?

  122. 122
    kc Says:

    With the possibility of Hoffman not returning to the Padres, there is no chance they are trading any of their relievers away.

    TB no longer has Chuck LaMar and they are not stupid anymore. They have said they will building their team around Crawford and Baldelli. James, you have some a good fantasy league trade idea, but it will not happen in real life. The Braves do have interest in Lugo though.

    I like Scott Eyre too, but he is seeking 3yr-$10M package…no chance…

  123. 123
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Chuck LaMar was a complete idiot, but he did manage to get Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano.

  124. 124
    kc Says:

    Yes, AAR, that was LaMar one single contribution in his what?!…ten-years of work as the GM of the Rays?! He basically took advantage of a newly promoted young NYC GM who was panicking. The Mets are obviously still recovering from the Benson / Zambrano mistakes. To his credit, LaMar did build a very strong farm system, which is really his area of strength even dated back to his time with the Braves.

    Reading that the Braves are working on a trade with the Rays which will include Lugo and Marte. Obviously, the Braves will seek a lot more back from the Rays for giving up Marte. I just hope the trade will not include Huff or Beaz…

    Also learned that the Cubs are not interested in offering Furcal a five-year deal…You know Furcal and Lugo have similar OPS? And Lugo is supposed to be pretty good on defense except for making errors on routine plays like Furcal before last season. Anyway, I just don’t think Furcal deserves anything more than a 4-year / 32M contract…

    On the other hand, I just hope they will Betemit a chance to prove himself…he will cost very little and still has a chance to be special…I hope…

  125. 125
    Tennessee Brave Says:

    Am I imagining things, or have I been sensing some hostility towards Marcus Giles in here lately? Maybe my mind is turning one comment into much more, but I was just wondering: 1) do some people in here have hard feelings towards Giles, and 2) if so, are there specific instances that I am not aware of? Just curious.

  126. 126
    kc Says:

    I think there are couple of things. One being that someone heard Marcus making comments on San Diego newspaper or something being frustrated by the Braves not spending more money on talents. Second being some of our frustration on Marcus being not productive in the last two playoffs.

    Personally, I still like Marcus a lot, and I still think he has a chance to be even better. He has this fire in him that the Braves lacked in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I prefer Marcus over Furcal anyday.

  127. 127
    Another Alex R. Says:

    I like Marcus a lot too, it just seems like sometimes he makes bonehead decisions because he’s too fired up. Like turning into a ridiculous free swinger for stretches, or occasionally just dropping the ball, or his unfortunate tendency to run into people in the outfield.

    That said, he’s easily one of the four or five best pure #2 hitters in the majors, great speed, good fielder, good hitter, and I’d love to have him back, especially if we can’t resign Furcal.

  128. 128
    Another Alex R. Says:

    P.S. I put the probability of our retaining Furcal about even with the probability of our getting Javy Vasquez. Somewhere around 5-10%.

  129. 129
    James Says:

    FYI Marcus Giles is a prick

  130. 130
    david15 Says:

    he’s a prick why now?

    funny you advocate acquiring julio lugo then call marcus giles a prick. guess not all of us have the same value structure.

  131. 131
    Charlie Says:

    Why all the dis=love for Giles now? Would we be talking about this if he weren’t Arbitration Eligible.

    The fact of the matter is , is that for the past two seasons it has been essential in braves victories that Furcal or Giles are hitting. And, to lose both would just be stupid. Giles is staying.

  132. 132
    James Says:

    i’ll bet you a dollar he goes to san diego in 2007

  133. 133
    kc Says:

    Good luck with the Padres coming up with the money to sign Marcus. The team has a $60M payroll James, and they have a harder time keeping their stars than the Braves. Seems like Brian Giles is leaving the Padres this offseason. James, 50 cents of your dollar is lost already.

  134. 134
    Kirk Says:

    I’ve had the nagging suspicion for quite some time now that Marte will be traded somewhere. Furcal isn’t signable at a price the Braves will pay; I don’t think the organization trusts Betemit to be the starting SS; Chipper isn’t moving to 1st (certainly not in favor of a rookie who hasn’t proved anything in the majors yet); there haven’t been any signs that Marte will be moving (he is playing 3rd in winter league ball). Put that all together, and I think Marte will be packaged with someone to bring back a SS and either an outfielder or 1st baseman.

  135. 135
    kc Says:

    I know what you are thinking Kirk, but I hate trading Marte away just like that without ever giving him a chance to prove himself. 57 at-bats are nothing man. If the Braves are ever trading away Marte, I would like to see someone much better than Lugo and Huff.

  136. 136
    David Remy Says:

    Here’s an introduction to Pecota projections over at The New York Times.

    Furcal gets a mention.

  137. 137
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Thanks for the link, David. I actually don’t know that much about the sabermetric tools the kids use nowadays. It’s nice to see a newspaper article written for the rest of us, even if it’s understandably vague about how Pecota actually works.

  138. 138
    Drew Says:

    To the guy who says thinks it might be harder to find a good second baseman than shortstop that is just not true at all. Not even close. You can move a shortstop to second, but not necessarly a secondbaseman to short. A second basemen might not have the arm strenght to play short. but a shortstop prospect can make a very good secondbasemen….

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