Results tagged ‘ Billy Wagner ’

Here we go again…

Ankiel_Farnsworth_470_264.jpgGreetings out there in Braves Nation. It has been quite some time since last I wrote. By the looks of it, somebody was paying attention when I mused giving the sometimes maligned and occasionally productive Willy Taveras a job in the organization. I knew if I left that entry up long enough, it would elicit a response.

Perhaps, we’d be better suited taking a look at the recent Trade Deadline movement.

The Braves have roared back to the top of the National League East this year. There was that little speed bump early, but now the team is primed to make a run in October for the first time since 2005.

While much has changed since that last playoff appearance, some things are eerily the same. Remember when Atlanta was making deadline deals that season? I do.

It’s funny how the Braves were busy trying to bolster their bullpen some five years later and were thinking along those same lines. Kyle Farnsworth has been productive for the Royals this season. His power arm won’t be expected to close games this time around, but should fit in nicely with the current mix to bridge the gap to Billy Wagner.

Atlanta also added outfielder Rick Ankiel in that trade with Kansas City. The jury is still out on what exactly Ankiel can bring over the course of a full season, but the Braves will seek to get every thing they can out of him in 2010.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the price was particularly steep, but what I did find somewhat curious in the deal was the inclusion of left-handed reliever Tim Collins. Atlanta acquired Collins from the Toronto Blue Jays as part of the Yunel Escobar trade, but his stay in the organization proved to be brief.

Collins, just 5-foot-7, has very impressive strikeout numbers that come thanks to a wicked curveball. While he was named the Blue Jays Organizational Pitcher of the Year by MLB.com following last season, there are some who believe his eventual role in the majors would likely be that of lefty specialist.

After watching him pitch in the Florida State League last year, I have to say that there is just something special about the little lefty. His path to the Big Leagues should only improve with a move to the Royals organization. Seeing as Wagner was slight of stature and big on stuff, Collins could be a success story in the same vein down the road.

Parting ways with both Gregor Blanco and Jesse Chavez shouldn’t impact the Braves whatsoever. If anything, adding a pair of more experienced players simply gives Bobby Cox more pieces to work with in his final campaign at the helm for the Braves. Depth is key.

QUICK HITS: Second baseman Martin Prado will try to avoid the disabled list after suffering a fractured pinky while sliding into home during the 10th inning of Friday’s victory over the Reds. Atlanta can ill afford to lose the NL hits leader (138) and the team leader in runs scored (75). A decision will likely be made on Monday as to whether or not he will land on the 15-day DL… Hand injuries have been a common theme this season, but rookie standout Jason Heyward has bounced back nicely from the ailing left thumb that slowed him down prior to the All-Star Break. The right fielder is hitting .349/.453/.460 in 16 games since the break. He even threw in a steal of home last week against Washington to remind everyone just how impressive the soon-to-be 21-year-old truly is. 

Till next time,

G-Mc

Braves stay busy, ink reliever Saito

Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren has wasted little time building a formidable bullpen for 2010. Just one day after signing closer Billy Wagner to a one-year deal, the Braves reached terms for a one-year pact with righty reliever Takashi Saito on Thursday.

The deal carries a guaranteed $3.2 million base salary, while Saito could earn and additional $2.3 million in performance based incentives. The Braves introduced Saito to the media on Thursday afternoon at a press conference at Turner Field.

Saito.jpg“I think we’re very fortunate to get two outstanding relief pitchers in two days, and we haven’t even been to the winter meetings yet,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Pitching for Boston last season, Saito went 3-3 with a pair of saves in 56 outings, striking out 52 and turning in a 2.43 ERA in 55 2/3 innings of work. Opponents hit just .244 against him.

Saito, 39, enjoyed success in the National League with the Los Angeles Dodgers over the first three years of his Major League career beginning in 2006. He was named to the NL All-Star team in 2007, when he went 2-1 with a 1.40 ERA and 39 saves for the Dodgers.

Over his four-year career, Saito is 15-10 with 83 saves and a a 2.05 ERA in 236 career appearances. The hard-thrower has struck out 297 men over 245 1/3 innings and limited his opponents to a .196 batting average against.

A sprained elbow ligament forced Saito to spend two months on the disabled list in 2008, paving the way for Jonathan Broxton to assume closer’s duties for the Dodgers. The Braves will use Saito to spell Wagner on some nights, giving the club the kind of options that Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano offered last year.

Saito and Wagner will join holdovers Peter Moylan, Eric O’Flaherty and Kris Medlen in the Atlanta bullpen next season. While more relievers will be in camp, it would appear that the major moves in the pen have been made.

Perhaps the most interesting point of Thursday’s press conference came when Cox hinted that a major move that would bolster the Braves offense could be coming sooner than later. Wren declined to comment, saying only, “You never know.”

More to come,

G-Mc

Sources: Braves sign Billy Wagner

With the Winter Meetings still days away, the Atlanta Braves appear poised to mark one big item off their holiday shopping list. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Braves will sign lefty closer Billy Wagner, “according to major league sources.”

billy_wagner.jpgWagner must now pass a physical before the deal becomes official. This will mark the first marquee closer the Braves have boasted since John Smoltz‘s days at the end of the pen.

According to Rosenthal’s report, the one-year deal is believed to be worth $7 million and includes a $6.5 million vesting option for a second season that would kick in if Wagner closes 50 games in 2010.

Wagner, 38, is coming off Tommy John Surgery in 2008 that limited him to just 17 appearances between the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox last season. The lefty showed his power arm to be intact, racking up 26 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings of work to go along with a 1.72 ERA in 17 outings. Opponents hit just .154 against the six-time All-Star last season.

During his 15-year career, spent with Houston, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, Wagner has accumulated 385 saves and stands to become just the fifth hurler in MLB history to surpass the 400 save plateau with a healthy 2010 campaign. Only John Franco (424) has more saves all-time by a southpaw pitcher.

Atlanta will give Boston a supplemental first round draft pick for signing Wagner, who as a Type-A free-agent was offered arbitration by the Red Sox prior to Tuesday’s deadline.

The Braves have a very good chance of recouping that draft pick loss, however, as both Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez (who were also offered arbitration Tuesday) qualify as Type-A FA’s and would fetch first rounders back for Atlanta if they sign elsewhere.

This is a potential signing that I believed the Braves could pursue and had highlighted it prominently in my upcoming Winter Meetings Primer entry. Of course, that piece had yet to hit the Blogosphere before news of this signing broke, but rest assured it will still make an appearance. I just won’t be able to claim any psychic connection this time around.

More to come as always,

G-Mc