Kotsay taking over CF

I think we all had a sinking suspicion that Frank Wren and the Braves weren’t through shopping, but with the addition of Mark Kotsay on Monday, it looks like the club may be just about complete.

The speculation swirled around all week and initially was reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney as a done deal. At the time it appeared Atlanta was only going to have to part with righty reliever Joey Devine in exchange for Kotsay and cash to off-set his $7.375 million price tag. Turns out the Braves did have to add 21-year old righty Jamie Richmond to sweeten the deal for Billy Beane. Neither seemed likely to have a big impact in 2008, but Kotsay’s veteran presence helps fill a rather large void in center.

Let’s face it, there isn’t anyone on earth who would want the responsibility of following the Andruw Jones show in center field for the Atlanta Braves but Kotsay brings a great reputation as a hustle outfielder who makes his share of plays. Since his first big league season in 1998, Kotsay has lead all outfielders with 110 assists. Not too bad.

Andruw did everything and then some defensively during his career, and that isn’t lost on his former teammates or the Atlanta fans. Still, we have to realize that a player that dominates a facet of the game to that degree is going to be hard to replace… and you never really "replace" that kind of player.

The beauty of the trade and it’s classic 2-for-1 swap of prospects for a proven everyday Major Leaguer, is the fact that it does not create a long-term road block to the Braves plans for top outfield prospect Jordan Schafer. It allows him more time to gain valuable experience in either Mississippi or Richmond this season. We could see him in September if he repeats his numbers (.312-15-63 with 23 steals and 86 runs in 136 games) of a year ago between Single-A’s Rome and Myrtle Beach.

Kotsay’s new teammates all seemed excited about what was then a possibility during this past weekend’s Fanfest event at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, Mark Teixeira and Kelly Johnson all raved about the defensive abilities and the intensity that Kotsay brings to the table. While John Smoltz wasn’t immediately up on the latest trade rumor, he quickly added his approval as well during Sunday’s Fanfest festivities.

Meanwhile, a tight-lipped Frank Wren steadfastly stuck to his guns on not leaking any details on possible deals, save the statement that the team has, "a couple of deals we’re working on right now."

Kotsay, 32, brings over plenty of experience with winning, having been a part of the Oakland teams that averaged over 90 wins a season from 2004-2006. Despite an earlier trade with the Houston Astros that brought over Josh Anderson, few were convinced that he would be the final candidate chosen to take over the vacant center outfield spot. What Anderson could be is a key insurance policy should Kotsay’s back injuries continue to bark.

Passing his physical should be a good sign that Kotsay is ready to get back to the business of winning this season. The Braves will certainly like that.

Guess it’s about time for a few previews. Coming soon!

Till Next time,

G-Mc

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