November 2007

Leftover Turkey…

Thanksgiving has come and gone and that means a couple of things are the horizon. First of course, are the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings – starting December 3rd. Then there’s that whole Christmas thing, but I’m sure the Braves and a host of other teams are hoping to get a great deal of their shopping done in Nashville at the meetings.

Tommy_g_1By now everyone has seen that Tom Glavine is back in an Atlanta Braves Uniform for the first time since 2002. The addition of a veteran lefty gives Atlanta a strong top three starters to go into 2008 with. That leaves the Braves with a center field question to answer.

Mike Hampton is throwing again and has impressed thus far in the meagar steps he has made towards a comeback next season. Having not pitched in two and a half seasons, Hampton will get some work in down in Mexico. Hopes are that Hampton will be ready to go and able to contribute

While this blog has its moment where regular updates are popping up every day or two only to be followed by a couple weeks off, let me assure you that you’ll want to tune in for Winter Meetings coverage starting a week from Today.

I’m working on a few ideas to throw around how the club shapes up, where the prospects and young talent can and will fit in and what moves Atlanta has left to make before Opening Day of 2008. Look for those things this week.

Till next time,

G-Mc

Who’s taking home the hardware?

When Rawlings issued its Gold Glove Award winners list on Tuesday, I came to realize that I had not yet filled out my list of Post-season award winner predictions. Couldn’t really let a year go by where I don’t put these to writing and see how I come out on the other side. Nostradamus? Or nostra-dumb… well you get it.

Before I get to the predictions, there was a bit of Braves related flavor to the Gold Glove Awards this off-season. Two outfielders, Andruw Jones with his 10th and Jeff Francoeur with his first, captured the honor. Amazingly, former Braves ace Greg Maddux added yet another piece of hardware to his already overcrowded trophy room. Maddux nabbed his 17th Gold Glove, establishing a new all-time mark by any player in a career. Props to Maddux for yet another feather in his cap.

Let’s jump right into these awards and look into my crystal ball…

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP: Jimmy Rollins
AL CY: Josh Beckett
NL CY: Jake Peavy

AL ROY: Dustin Pedroia
NL ROY: Ryan Braun
AL Manager: Terry Francona
NL Manager: Clint Hurdle

I realize a few of the predictions are lay-ups by choice. But, I’d be very surprised if I’m not wrong on at least a couple accounts. Stranger things have happened in the Manger of the Year award than a World Series champion skipper not bringing home the award. C.C. Sabathia could get a good portion of the AL Cy vote and Troy Tulowitzki could grab the NL ROY honors, no question. But these are just by votes/predictions etc.

What are yours?

Till Next time,
G-Mc

Mixed notes…

While the GM meetings continue in what I can only imagine is sunny and temperate Orlando, I figured it was a good time for a few updates from the last entry.

Last December, then-GM John Schuerholz along with current GM Frank Wren were very vocal proponents of the GM meetings as a great place to lay the ground work for trades that could happen at the upcoming Winter Meetings in December (3-6 in Nashville). I’m making my travel arrangements, so if you’re into daily reports and rumor mills then this blog will be a good place for you to follow all the fun.

In other related news:

There is nothing concrete to report back on the Griffey trade speculation, because it is just that – speculation. Some theorists are excited about the possibility of having that dynamic bat in #5 spot in the batting order, while others are less than excited about the idea of an injury-prone outfielder who is no longer a viable option in center and carries a $16.5 million ’09 option season actually donning the Braves uni. Who can blame them? Debate away.

It appears my Coco Crisp theory found legs, though it was safe to assume the Sox would be shopping their deposed CF at the GM meetings. Multiple outlets have reported that dealing Coco will be among the top priorities this winter. Atlanta is believed to have some degree of interest, but will probably explore all options before narrowing it down to one candidate.

Looking back over some notes during the winter of 2005-06, the Indians were hot and heavy after Ryan Langerhans but no deal was struck.

How about some Andruw Jones news?

It appears Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten has done his due diligence in scouting out the main three free agent center fielders. Reports out of D.C. have placed the former Braves president on a recent house call to the Jones residence. Looks like Washington could be in the hunt for Andruw, but they are still very much in the process of building a winning franchise.  The article also mentions that Kasten has spoken with Torii Hunter of the Twins and Aaron Rowand of the Phillies.

On a side note, any talk of Atlanta being a serious possibility for right-hander Curt Schilling ended on Tuesday, when the 40-year old reached an agreement to return to Boston for a base salary of $8 million and incentives – according to Buster Olney of ESPN.

Steroids, HGH and more of the same…

The baseball world recieved another wonderful bit of news on Tuesday morning. Multiple reports sprung up across the board that Mariners outfielder Jose Guillen along with retired Giants and D-Backs third baseman Matt Williams and righty Ismael Valdez all purchased shipments of steroids HGH and/or other performance-enhancing-drugs. The report has linked some of the prescriptions for the three to the same dentist who was linked by a law enforcement source to Indians righty Paul Byrd. Here’s the whole story summed up via ESPN.

Till Next time,

G-Mc

Hot Stove time…

Well it’s too soon to start previewing next season. Let’s face it, the World Series is anything but a distant memory and most free agents are still gathering their papers and creating an off-season strategy with their agents. But it is, most certainly, time to fire up the Hot Stove and see what develops as it’s developing.

Many of the astute baseball minds that started putting two and two together between Atlanta and free-agent center fielder Mike Cameron suffered a set-back in their theory. Cameron earned himself a 25-game suspension for violating baseball’s substance abuse policy regarding illegal stimulants for the second time. That should pretty much put to rest any thoughts of Cameron in Atlanta, despite the fact that the Padres still regard him highly.

Griffey_1One interesting Braves piece of speculation involves a high profile target. Call it whatever you like, but there is some clamoring to bring future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. into the fray this winter. Griffey has made no secret of his feelings about playing in Atlanta, a place he is familiar with from his father’s playing days. Could it be a fit? Time will tell, but the price will have to be right. Terrence Moore recently opined in the AJC that Griffey should be brought on board. If the time ever was right to make the move, it would appear that now would be it. Fellow AJC scribe David O’Brien shares a different view than Moore. Both have valid cases in my book.

I can beat you over the head with the numbers Griffey has put up in his career and scare you with the list of injuries he has suffered since 2001, but then you already know these things. I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to see a milestone 600th homer moment at Turner Field this year? If the Reds are in fact on the hook for half of Griffey’s $12 million in the event he is traded, then I’d say it would at least be worth having a little talk with Reds GM Wayne Krivsky.

Now if you want some speculation from my camp, then I would say that not only are Griffey’s days in center field behind him, but Atlanta might be better served shifting him to left field should they rope him. An interesting name to note in the trade market for a center fielder might be Boston’s Coco Crisp. Having been replaced in the lineup and in the hearts and minds of Red Sox Nation by rookie speedster Jacoby Ellsbury, Crisp could be a nice addition at the right price.

There is no doubt that memories of Andruw Jones will not be easily erased, but Crisp has the kind of glove that could ease the transition from a defensive standpoint. Atlanta was linked to trade talks, as I’ve mentioned, prior to Boston snagging Crisp from Cleveland after the 2005 season. His current  contract calls for sums of $4.75 million in 2008 and $5.75 million in 2009 (with an $8 million option for 2010). Not exactly bank-breaking numbers, which could make him an excellent stop-gap between Jones and several talented farmhands.

Crisp, 28, hit .300 with 16 homers and 69 RBI in his final season with the Indians. Over the past two seasons spent in Boston, the numbers have not been quite as impressive. Crisp has stolen 50 bases in 60 attempts in those two years, hitting .266 with 14 homers and 96 RBI in 239 games. The OBP is a little low (.317 in ’06 and .330 last season) but his speed would seem to dictate Crisp would project at lead-off or two-place hitter. A fresh start in a new place might be just what he needs to get back on track with his Tribe days.

Some rattling following the Renteria trade went as far as to say Atlanta might be a player in the sweepstakes to land Alex Rodriguez. I would surmise that it was based solely on the fact that the Braves finished second in the bidding when A-Rod got his first mega-deal. I highly doubt that Atlanta is trying to take the money gained by the departures of Andruw Jones and Edgar Renteria to bring in Rodriguez (presumably as a shortstop again). It just doesn’t make any sense financially or realistically in the Braves plans, which makes this entire line of discussion laughable. If the Braves are going to be scraping together money or taking public collections for a Scott Boras client, it is going to be Mark Teixeira.

Division rival Florida might be up to something. They’ve announced to the rest of baseball that Miguel Cabrera is available for trade this winter. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald has interesting take on recent Marlins rumblings .. but it would be a long shot.

This whole A-Rod saga is going to be one of two things – either the gift that keeps on giving, or the rash that just won’t go away, depending on where you sit. This off-season could show us a contract that no one ever thought possible. I found at least one New York writer who believes A-Rod wants in by opting out. Can you believe that?

Till Next Time,

G-Mc