Winter Meetings: Day 2

Here are the most interesting tidbits of Braves news today. There was no major move, but plenty of speculation that Atlanta would be among the major movers at the meetings. With Day 3 still ahead and the race for free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett heating up, the Braves have plenty of work still ahead of them in Sin City.

Zack Greinke for Jeff Francoeur? Not so fast…

Francoeur_take_a_seat.jpgIf you thought there might be renewed life to the previous rumor that a Greinke-Francoeur trade may have been discussed between Frank Wren and Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore, you can essentially disregard that line of thinking. ESPN’s Steve Phillips plays the role of rumor killer. A reprised story surfaced this morning, courtesy of the Boston Globe’s Tony Massarotti, but never showed up on the radar of any Braves scribe. The post also said that this deal was contingent on what the Braves are able to accomplish in regards to signing Burnett. So please note that this rumor was apparently just that and/or the product of idle hands – which as we know are the devil’s workshop.

Francoeur, 24, saw his career came off the tracks somewhat last season. Batting average (.239), homers (11) and RBI’s (71) were all down significantly from his previous two seasons. Even a trip back to the minors did little to bring things back around.

Greinke, 24, went 13-10 with a 3.47 ERA in 202.1 innings of work last season, striking out 183 hitters in his 32 starts. It makes sense from the standpoint of young players, but the Royals have put a significant amount of time and devotion into Greinke’s career, which was plagued by inconsistency and breifly saw him sidelined with an anxiety disorder. His potential is unquestioned though, and it appears Greinke is staking his claim as one of the best young hurlers in the game. He looks so good in fact, that Dayton Moore personally debunked the rumor later in the afternoon.

Outfielder from the Cardinals

Ken Rosenthal certainly stays busy over at Fox Sports, chipping in a new spin on an old topic. The Braves and Cardinals had previously been rumored to be working a deal, with the post popular version involving Kelly Johnson (or perhaps Yunel Escobar) heading to St. Louis for Ryan Ludwick. While that one never came to pass, the Cardinals made moves to solidify their infield for next season, trading for Khalil Greene and retaining the services of second baseman Adam Kennedy.

The lastest buzz according to Rosenthal involved a potential swap of Rick Ankiel for Mike Gonzalez and, secondarily, Joe Mather for Blaine Boyer. The Cardinals are seeking bullpen help and opted not to bring closer Jason Isringhausen back (at least not yet), so Gonzalez makes sense for them. However, these deals don’t seem to merit a great amount of discussion (again, at least not yet).

Top rumors and done deals for Tuesday

  • Francisco Rodriguez signs 3-year worth at least $37 MM deal to close games for the New York Mets.
  • Kerry Wood is close to a 2-year to join the Cleveland Indians bullpen. The deal likely contains an option for a third year.
  • Baltimore Orioles trade catcher Ramon Hernandez and cash for super utility man Ryan Freel and two prospects.
  • Third baseman Casey Blake resigned with the L.A. Dodgers for 3-years and $17.1 MM.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies extended the contract of manager Charlie Manuel through 2011.
  • Infielder Mike Lamb re-signed with the Milwaukee Brewers, agreeing to a 1-year deal.

Till next time,

G-Mc

3 Comments

I’m not big on the Rick Ankiel idea. He only hit 224/268/448 last year against lefties and with the jam-up of left-handed batters there’s no reason we need him. He’s also TERRIBLE in the field, I know everyone thinks he’s a fielding genius because of those 2 outfield assists he recorded in that game in Colorado, but if you look at his fielding bible stats, he made 15 plays fewer than the AVERAGE center fielder. Pat Burrell only made 20 plays fewer than the average left fielder and he’s regarded as one of the worst fielders in the game. I know center is harder than left, but when people transition from center to left they usually pick up between 2-6 plays. He’d still be a huge defensive liability. Doesn’t seem like a fit for the Braves at this point. I don’t like the idea of trading Blaine Boyer, because trading young pitching when they’re not at peak value is NEVER a good idea. Blaine Boyer had a pretty good stretch of about 35-40 innings in the middle of the season. If he can sustain that across 60 innings the Braves should trade him next season and get more value for him. However, I love the idea of Joe Mather coming to Atlanta. I think he has huge power potential and plays excellent defense. His plate discipline is improving all the time and I think we have a better coaching staff and player developmental program so I believe he could really flourish in Atlanta. If we could trade Mike Gonzalez for Joe Mather I’d say pull the trigger now for a few reasons:
a) you’re getting 5 years of Mather for 1 year of Gonzalez
b) Gonzalez is probably at the top of his trade value right now, I don’t think he’s really that good.
c) the acquisition of Mather makes players like Gorkys and other outfielders in our farm expendable for trades.

It’s since been reported that the Francoeur rumor didn’t have any weight to it. I could’ve told anyone that, it didn’t make sense. That rumor has surfaced a dozen times since October and it’s never made sense and always been shot down. It’d take more than Francoeur to get Greinke and the Atlanta front office has a man-crush on Francoeur so he’s not going to be traded this season. Why would the Braves sell low? That rumor just never made any sense. I wish it did and we’re shipping that free-swinging, undisciplined, overall terrible player to the Royals for a starting pitcher with a huge ceiling and MLB experience, but that’s not going to happen. I honestly think that Massarotti just made that up to get more hits on his website.

We’ll see what happens, but I’m not too happy with what the winter meetings have shown us so far. Apparently we’re now in it big for Dye again. I hate that idea too. He walked 44 times and struck out 104 times last year while playing his best defensive season in 3 years of making 17 plays fewer than the average right-fielder. Terrible. He did hit 34 home runs though. Alright, I’m done rambling.

I do like the fielding bible stats you throw out there, but one of the things I guess that doesn’t really make me give too much weight to them (other than for good old fashioned paper comparisons) is the fact that the fielder’s aren’t going to receive a uniform number of plays to make – and thereby make the comparison completely equal. I know from watching, on a purely skills perspective – Ankiel is probably in the upper third in terms of athletic ability in the outfield, while Burrell is easily in the bottom defensively and athletically. He’s got bad feet and wasn’t that coordinated to begin with. Since I don’t think that’s a deal that will happen, we can find better trade fodder to ramble about.
The Dye proposition is one I like, because I am a huge supporter of the fact that the Braves never should have traded him to begin with. He plays well, and while he is getting older, can be a valuable power bat. My feelings on Boyer is that he was used about 15 more times than he should be, but his high velocity fastball is flat and hittable which makes him a late inning liability in my book. Gonzalez will probably be 100% for the first time in three seasons in the spring and power lefty arms are much more valuable in my book – and most people’s books. I’m sold on Gonzo as a pitcher and a teammate. There should be more guys like that around, it would make winning easier.
As for Frenchie, that man crush of the front office wore off during last season’s frustrations. Remember what happened after they tried to give him a breather in Double-A? Those comments about the team “permanently damaging the relationship” and “the betrayal” that came because “I guess that’s the way Frank does business” were not things that would endear any player to his management. To be honest, I would have let him sit down there longer than 3 games. I would not be shocked to see him traded, but his value is low – and the Royals would be crazy to give up Greinke for him. Period.

The way fielding bible statistics are calculated is not taking the total number of plays a center fielder makes and comparing them to some sort of “average”, they are calculated by looking at every ball hit into a fielder’s “range”. They use factors like ball velocity, air temperature, air humidity, ball trajectory, even if the ball knuckles in the air, etc… to determine if the “average” center fielder would make the play. After determining what plays an “average” center fielder would make, then look at every ball hit to a fielder’s “range”. Obviously there are plays that no fielder can make, obviously there are plays that every fielder should make, but the key here is would the “average” center fielder make that play? After those plays are calculated they are adjusted for playing time and for total chances as well as the fielder’s arm is factored in (i.e. how many outfield assists to a certain base would the “average” fielder make). It isn’t a simple measure of how many plays you made, it’s a measure of what you did with what the opposing hitters gave you. Hard to argue they don’t treat each fielder equally since they’re normalized for total chances and playing time.

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