So many stories, so little time…

Time’s been at a premium lately, despite the lack of baseball here
in Atlanta, but it has been a busy Post-season already. We’ve seen what
a hot streak at the right time can do for a club, as the Rockies are
barreling towards a potential World Series title. Witnessing a team
pull out victories in 21-of-22 games to make a grand entrance to the
Fall Classic is pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. Let’s
see how far this ‘Rocktober’ thing goes.


For the Braves, unable to tap into the Colorado-style magic, the
off-season began on October 1st. The organizational shift began with
the somewhat unorthodox announcement that Atlanta would not seek to
resign Andruw Jones, effectively cutting ties with their center fielder
of 11 seasons. I use the term unorthodox because generally, whether
they plan to bring a player back or not usually plays out on its on
during the winter.


That wasn’t the only announcement that was out of left field so to
speak. John Schuerholz received a well-earned promotion to team
president and will leave his duties as general manager in the capable
hands of understudy Frank Wren. The transition will likely be seamless,
with Schuerholz serving in an advisory role for player transactions. It
was a move designed to keep the most successful executive in baseball
history with the organization beyond his term and capacity, but
surprised more than a few in its initial leaked form, "Schuerholz to
step down."


You can read more of the Schuerholz coverage over on the Braves
Insider Pages at the Radio Network homes by clicking here, but I
thought time would be well spent looking into the Andruw Jones

What does this mean for the Braves?


More or less it means that for the first time since roughly 1994,
the Braves aren’t exactly sure who will be patrolling center field.
Marquis Grissom filled the role, was dealt for Kenny Lofton, who gave
way to Andruw Jones in 1998. The rest as they say, is history.


Andruw enjoyed some tremendous success in Atlanta, but last season’s
mega-slump certainly hurt his off-season marketability. The Braves will
look to fill that void this off-season, where a class that is headlined
by the Twins Torii Hunter and the Padres Mike Cameron among others.
Boston will likely part ways with Coco Crisp, a outfielder who was
linked to Atlanta in trade talks prior to the 2006 season (though as a
left fielder at that time). Aaron Rowand is another name that jumps
out, but his asking price is rumored to be north of $70 million.
Baltimore’s Corey Patterson will also be on the market.


However the Braves decide to go, it will be a change from one of the
game’s all-time best glovemen. It will also bring a marked difference
in power potential as well. There aren’t many bats on the free agent
market in general that could match a potential 40-homer 130-RBI year.
That is the kind of production Andruw had given Atlanta in 2005 and
2006. Hunter and Cameron both have the potential to crack the 30-homer
plateau, but neither can approach the RBI numbers of Andruw.


A trade could be in the works as well. With several
middle-infielders piled up, Atlanta could look to deal for a center
fielder. Only time will tell.

What does this mean for Andruw?


Well, Andruw certainly brings and impressive resume that includes a
likely 10th gold glove and nearly 400 homers. He trails only Chipper
Jones on the Atlanta all-time homer list and has also eclipsed the
1,000 RBI mark – all of this by the age of 30.


There is no doubt that Andruw may have registered the worst
free-agent walk season of any superstar who would be looking to gain
employment in a new venue. The Braves know what Andruw is capable of,
but it certainly says alot about the asking price for Atlanta to say
"thanks, but no thanks" before Andruw even officially filed for free
agency. I suppose there is the possibility that the Braves will offer
Andruw arbitration, and face the same scenario they did when Greg
Maddux was unable to pull big money elsewhere. Andruw for one more year
under those circumstances would certainly make for an awkward scenario.


Plenty of teams will likely express varying degrees of interest in
Andruw. The Nationals are moving into a new park and have money to
spend. Philadelphia could lose Rowand to free agency and might
entertain the idea of Andruw in center. The Padres have already
expressed interest in a 1-year make good year that could next Andruw
somewhere in the $16 million range. Then there are the Boston’s and New
York’s and Los Angeles’ of the world that could offer multiple year
deals. Word out of Dodger camp already has Juan Pierre moving to left
field in favor of a stronger armed center fielder. Could that be Andruw?


Only time will tell where Andruw lands, but we certainly wish him the best in all his future endeavors.


Till Next time,

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