Answers to Bradley

The local organ columnist Mark Bradley recently posed five reasonable questions about Frankie’s offseason maneuvering.

For fun, I’ll try to climb inside the GM’s head — scratch that. I don’t like that image. Rather, I’ll post my answers to Bradley’s queries.

1. Why pay the same money to an older reliever who hasn’t had a save since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2008?

This one is fairly easy. If he has recovered, and his work late last season indicates that he has, Wagner is better than Soriano. Plus, you get Wagner for just one season. It seemed likely that Soriano would command a mult-year deal, and the Braves, understandably, didn’t want to commit to that.

What’s more, I suspect the Braves’ brass became a little disenchanted with the former BMF after he seemed less than eager to take the ball a few times last season. And he’s streaky: last season he had ERAs under 2 for April, May and June, then 3.97 in July, 4.50 in August and 5.68 in September/October. 

2. Why offer arbitration to Soriano, whom they had no intention of keeping, and not offer it to Adam LaRoche, whom they need?

Again, pretty simple though not as straightforward as the first answer. For one, LaRoche is a type B free agent, so the compensation isn’t as good if he rejects arbitration and goes the free agent route. Soriano is a type A. Everyone figured Soriano would get a multiyear deal elsewhere. It also seemed likely after his strong second half that LaRoche would get multiyear offers. Truth is, it would not have been that bad to have Rochey around for just one more season. But I imagine the substantial salary would have been money Wren et al would prefer to spend elsewhere.

3. Why the utter desperation to trade Derek Lowe?

Bradley says Lowe isn’t awful just because he had one subpar season. True. However, the idea is to shed his big-ass contract now that you really don’t need him next year and might not need him all that much the following two years. Again, it’s money that can be put to better use elsewhere on the diamond.

4. Doesn’t dumping Ryan Church prove Frank Wren messed up the Jeff Francoeur trade?

Bradley answered this one himself — the home team just needed to get rid of Francoeur. The return didn’t matter.

5. Does Wren have the worst instincts in the history of humankind?

MB’s premise is that Wren’s first insincts would not have worked well — Peavy, Furcal, Griffey and so on. Fair enough. But you judge the GM on what he’s done, not on what he might have done.

What most of this illustrates is that the Braves have to work within payroll constraints. That has animated pretty much all of Wren’s moves so far. And for all we know, maybe he did go after Pierre and the ChiSox got a better offer. Maybe he’ll move Lowe and get a player who’ll help the team as much or more than Pierre, who does steal some bases but has Rafael Belliardian power, has not reached base at an above-average clip the past five seasons — OBPs of .326, .330, .331, .327 and .365 — and throws like a girl from left field.

–CD

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13 Comments on Answers to Bradley

  1. PepeFreeUs // December 15, 2009 at 5:37 pm //

    5. Not as long as Dayton Moore and Rahm Emmanuel are around.

  2. rankin' rob // December 15, 2009 at 6:53 pm //

    Well thought out. I wonder what Duane from Forest Park(LaGrange) thinks about our offseason doings? I usually base my opinions around his.

  3. Agreed. I also answered all 5 comments on AJC.com, with similar but less-thought-out responses. Wren appears to be on the right track this off-season, without sharing every nibble with the press this time around. Hate to see the Phils continue to load up, though. At least the Mets are still in shambles.

  4. Agreed. Duane from Forest Park (by way of Lagrange)is a font of wisdom.

  5. Very well put. Bradley would do well to surreptitiously monitor your posts and take the credit.

    Being a GM is a lot harder than a generation ago. So far Wren seems to deal in realities and not wishful thinking. I remember reading once that Bill Veeck’s Achilles heel was his fondness for aging sluggers. (The writer was referring to the 1950s, not the 1970s, version of Veeck). And we all are familiar with Bobby Cox’ fondness for light hitting utility players who hustle, the type of player Cox was. Think Keith Lockhart or Robert Fick. Wren so far has not shown a weak spot based on sentimentality. That’s a good thing.

  6. Additionally, Bobby’s fondness paid off once, long ago, with the Lemmer. I always thought Jeff Treadway was probably a better player and I was sorry to see him go but keeping Mark turned out well. When your hunches are rewarded once, sometimes you can keep on playing them for far too long. That’s how Vegas stays profitable.

    I wouldn’t really classify Fick that way. He got dumped pretty quickly after pulling that ARod move against the Cubs in the playoffs.

  7. Anybody else worried that trading Lowe so soon after signing him to a big deal may scare off future free agents from signing with the Braves? I agree that the contract is a tad high but I’m not sure the short term benefits of cost relief outweigh the long term effects of making such a move…

  8. I was thinking the same thing. A thing Suspenders always said in regards to not giving no trade clauses was the Braves didn’t trade players who would be deserving of them… and trading Lowe would violate that. Could hurt our future recruitment efforts. Taht said, still make sense for us.

  9. rankin' rob // December 17, 2009 at 7:48 am //

    I think Lowe could bounce back and have a good year. And at least one of our starters will go down with an injury sooner or later. If it weren’t for the budget, I’d keep him instead of trading him for sub-bopper talent.

  10. “Recruiting” free agents is generally about one thing — money. Lowe is now whining, by the way. See Schultz’s column: http://blogs.ajc.com/jeff-schultz-blog/2009/12/16/lowe-upset-about-trade-talk-braves-need-to-move-him/

  11. Trip makes a valid point, but I am afraid that the modern baseball player feels no allegiance to any uniform and is motivated only by money. I likely would feel the same if I were gifted enough to play big league ball. Far from feeling slighted, a free agent signee who is on the trade block more likely would simply demand (and receive) a contract sweetener.

    The middle class in western civilization is a (relatively) recent development. Interestingly, the demise of the middle class on a major league roster is a very recent development. More and more, veterans of “marginal” talent are squeezed out in favor of a young, less economically demanding player as the lion’s share of the available salary goes to a small group of elite players. After the cries of “open the books”, the players’ union is of necessity coming to terms with the fact that the available pool of money is, in fact, finite. Now that the peak of the salary trajectory appears to have been established, the MLBPA will, I predict, face increasingly fractious dissension from the “average” or “mediocre” player who, after all, comprises the bulk of the union’s membership. Middle infielders who are barely hanging on to a roster spot and are forced to take a pay cut will view the likes of Mark Texiera in the same way liberal Democrats claim to view investment bankers: with distrust, disdain, and downright hate. This final stage of economic maturity in our National Pastime will be realized when we awake one morning to read that Alex Rodrigueuz’ testicles have been involuntarily separated from the rest of his person and distributed, per capita, among the rest of the Yankee roster.

  12. rankin' rob // December 17, 2009 at 11:24 am //

    Unfortunately after all of the testosterone and Primobolan there won’t be enough to go around.

  13. We gave him a huge contract but he didn’t live up to it. Now he’s no longer an essential component to our team, so we’re replacing him for a more useful part. And I agree with Straw – despite what Lowe is now claiming, I’m sure he truly feels no allegiance to us. In fact, had he a stellar season and another team offered more money, no doubt he’d jump ship if possible.

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