Results tagged ‘ outfield ’

Braves put an Angel in the outfield…

Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren can cross through that
final line on the winter shopping list. The Braves inked outfielder
Garret Anderson to a one-year $2.5 million contract on Sunday,
effectively filling the last of the glaring voids they entered the
off-season needing to address.

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With the former Angel now in the Braves outfield, Wren bounced back from being slighted in pursuit of Ken Griffey Jr. Anderson,
36, clocks in nearly three full years younger than Griffey, and without
the burden of off-season knee surgery to boot.

Anderson does not bring 611 career home runs and the marketability
that Griffey will lend the Mariners in his reunion tour, but he does
bring a proven veteran bat that will add depth to the Atlanta batting
order.

While no one will confuse Anderson with the first ballot hall of
Famer the Braves were unable come to terms with last week, his career
average of .296 is eight points north of Griffey’s. Anderson’s 84 RBI
also bested Griffey’s total of 71 from a year ago.

Signing Anderson allows Atlanta to follow the same model they were
said to be planning had they signed Griffey, utilizing a platoon that
would allow Matt Diaz to get the majority of the at-bats against
lefties. However, the younger Anderson may see more time than Griffey
was slated to receive had he signed with the Braves.

Though the majority of both men’s power production came against
right handers last season, Anderson hit .290 in his 141 at-bats versus
lefties. Griffey hit just .202 in 163 AB’s against southpaws in 2008.
Anderson could steal some of the at-bats from Diaz, given the
likelyhood that he will be taking his swings in the middle of the
Braves order.

This move was symbolic of Atlanta’s off-season theme, with Wren
working to eventually turn a perceived negative into positives as it
comes to player personnel moves. Missing the mark on Jake Peavy and A.J. Burnett turned into the acquisitions of Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami and Javier Vazquez.

Atlanta’s new look rotation was the major undertaking this winter.
Bringing in a veteran like Anderson will help the Braves bridge the gap
until top prospects like Jordan Schafer, Jason Heyward and Gorkys Hernandez are ready to assume full-time duties in the Atlanta outfield.

While Schafer may be given the chance to assume the starting job in
center field this spring, the veteran Anderson will be charged with
helping the Braves outfield regain some of its clout. Last season, the
Braves outfielders combined to hit a major league low 29 homers.

The Braves are also hoping that a resurgent Jeff Francoeur
will rebound from his dreadful 2008. After driving in more than 100
runs and averaging 24 homers over his first two full seasons, Francoeur
hit only .239 with just 11 homers and 71 RBI in 155 games.

A new and improved batting stance, modeled after former teammate Mark Teixeira‘s
right-handed approach, along with less emphasis on weight training and
size have Francouer convinced that 2008 was just a bad dream. His
production from the right side of the dish will be vital to an
otherwise lefty-heavy Atlanta lineup.

Braves put Griffey in their sights…

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The Atlanta Braves could be preparing a late charge at free agent outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., according to a report by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick on Sunday.

Braves GM Frank Wren is still seeking to fill the void in
Atlanta the outfield with a veteran bat that could bolster the line-up.
Sources told Crasnick that the Braves have stepped things up and began
discussing money with Griffey’s agent, Brian Goldberg.

Much of the speculation over the weekend was that Griffey was
seeking a reunion with the Seattle Mariners, for whom he played the
first 11 years of his career.

Griffey, 39, is coming off a 2008 season in which he was hampered by
a left knee injury. Doctors had to drain the knee on three occasions;
he underwent arthroscopic surgery in October in order to be ready for
spring training.

In the final season of a nine-year $116.5 million deal signed prior
to 2000, Griffey’s production declined from a 2007 campaign which saw
him hit .277 with 30 homers and 93 RBI. Cincinnati dealt Griffey to the
White Sox in a July trade deadline deal.

In 102 games with the Reds prior to the trade, Griffey hit .245 with
15 homers and 53 RBI. For the White Sox, Griffey hit .260 in 41
contests, but with just three homers and 18 RBI. Chicago declined the
$16.5 million option, making Griffey a free-agent.

Atlanta has Matt Diaz returning from a knee surgery that took
much of the 2008 season away from him. Diaz has served Atlanta
primarily as a platoon left fielder since being acquired in a trade
from the Kansas City Royals in 2006.

The presence of Diaz, who combined to hit .333 in 655 at-bats during
2006 and 2007, would allow manager Bobby Cox to give Griffey regular
rest.

Diaz hit just .244 in 43 games last season. He suffered a torn PCL
ligament in his left knee while attempting to make a diving catch
against the Milwaukee Brewers on May 27. He returned to the lineup in
Atlanta’s final game of the season and went 0-for-3.

Braves outfield needs to get Young…

Delmon Young LG.jpg

With Spring Training upon us, the Atlanta Braves find themselves
still searching the market for an everyday outfielder. Putting aside
the usual suspects, a crowded outfield in Minnesota could make former
first rounder Delmon Young available for the right price.

In
the wake of a disappointing 2008 season, in which his power output
dropped to just 10 homers and 69 RBI, Young finds himself in a
potential battle for playing time.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has already expressed that Carlos Gomez, Denard Span and Michael Cuddyer all deserve regular playings time. Throw Jason Kubel into the equation at designated hitter and the picture gets even more crowded.

A five-tool phenom who was heralded as the finest power hitter ever
drafted by the Rays in their short history, Young hit .288 with 93 RBI
in 2007 before being dealt to Minnesota.

Young has good speed on the base paths, but his instincts in the
outfield leave something to be the desired. His above average throwing
arm projected him to be a regular right fielder in Tampa Bay.

The emergence of Span, who projects as Minnesota’s right fielder and
lead-off hitter coupled with the return of Cuddyer from injury seems to
fill in the blanks on the corner outfield spots around Gomez. Kubel
came into his own with 20 homers and 78 RBI in 463 at-bats last season,
complicating any plan to utilize Young as a regular DH.

At the plate, Young is an aggressive hitter who does not draw many
walks and has power to the gaps. Young does not draw many walks, but
saw improvement from his rookie season while brining his strikeout
total down. Despite his power potential, the 20+ homer numbers from his
early stops in the minors have yet to materialize in the majors.

That could all change with a break-out season in 2009.

The Braves have outfield prospects waiting in the wings, though only Jordan Schafer seems close to joining the big club in 2009. Jason Heyward and Gorkys Hernandez
both project an arrival time of 2010 at the earliest. Young would fit
nicely in an outfield that only looks to get more talented as the years
go on.

This winter’s free agent pool included Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, Ken Griffey Jr., Garret Anderson and Jim Edmonds.
With both Abreu and Dunn finding work this week, Burrell having already
signed with the Tampa Bay Rays and Griffey perhaps closing in on a
return to Seattle, the market leaves much to be desired.

Clearly Atlanta will not be among the “several” teams that Scott Boras is lining up for the Manny Ramirez
sweepstakes. Wren and company also opted to pass on any reunion with
former Atlanta center fielder and full-time reclamation project, Andruw Jones.

Reports have linked Atlanta to New York Yankees outfielders Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady. Both men will come at varying cost, in terms of contract and prospect talent heading to the Bronx in exchange.

Nady,
30, is owed $6.55 million and stands to be a free agent at season’s
end. Being a Boras client points makes Nady a shot term fix for
Atlanta, before testing free agency next winter. Splitting time last
season between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Yankees, Nady turned in a
career-best season by hitting ,305 with 25 homers and 97 RBI in 148
games.

Swisher, 28, is two years younger and under contract for the next three seasons. Yankees GM Brian Cashman
would prefer to trade Nady and has balked at any request to eat a
portion of the $22.05 million that Swisher is owed over the next three
seasons.

After enjoying three productive years in Oakland, Swisher’s average
bottomed out at .219 with the White Sox last season. Swisher’s best
campaign with the A’s came in  2006, when he hit .254 with 35 homers,
95 RBI and 106 runs scored.

Though he did connect for 24 homers and his 82 walks brought his
OBP up to .332, Swisher hit just .191 with only 28 RBI in the second
half. Slumping to just .164 for the month of September forced Swisher
into a platoon with DeWayne Wise.

Should
the Twins look to deal Young, Atlanta has the prospect depth to put
together a nice return. The Braves would acquire a young player who
could benefit from a change of leagues and, despite being eligible for
arbitration in the coming three seasons, probably be a cheaper
alternative than Swisher.

There has been no rumor or report that
links the Braves and Twins in any trade talks, but the pieces could be
made to fit. The biggest road block to this trade scenario will not be
the players involved, it will be Young’s agent, Arn Tellum.

After being burned in negotiations with Rafael Furcal, the Braves have vowed never to do business with Tellum, fellow agent Paul Kinzer and the Wasserman Media Group. There is no better time than to put that pledge to the test with a deal to acquire Young.

Till next time,

G-Mc