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Is Aaron Harang less mediocre than Freddy Garcia?

According to Bowman, the Braves are interested in signing Aaron Harang, late of the Reds, Padres, Dodgers, Mariners and Mets. He was terrible in 2013, finishing with a 5.40 ERA and 1.347 WHIP. But he was decent in 2012-’13 with San Diego and L.A., and while it seems they’re just substituting one Chief for another, the Braves know more about pitching than we do.

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Braves have shown interest in Ervin Santana before

During the Braves series in Kansas City last season, Fredi mentioned that the team had once attempted to trade for Ervin Santana, who has yet to sign a contract for 2014. If, God forbid, the news is not good on Medlen, Santana would be the best available replacement.

And, though he calls it a longshot, Mark Bowman reports the Braves haven’t ruled that out.

Contractually, it appears they could swing it. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Santana is seeking a one-year deal in hopes of receiving a big multi-year deal next year. Reportedly he’s received offers up to $14 million from the Orioles and Blue Jays.

Santana, 31, would also cost the Braves the 26th selection in June’s amateur draft. But they’d retain a comparable pick (32nd overall) received as compensation for Brian McCann.

Though he’s been erratic throughout his career, posting ERA’s above five three times, last year was one of his best. Santana had the 8th best WHIP in the AL and 9th best ERA and topped 200 innings for the third time in four years.

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Braves nearing deal w/ Gavin Floyd

So the 2014 Braves rotation will potentially have two right-handers coming off Tommy John surgery — one good and one decidedly average.

Meet your new fifth starter, Gavin Floyd, who probably won’t be ready for Opening Day. So this is who the Braves are going to replace Huddy with, a unremarkable 30-year-old with a career 4.48 ERA and 1.338 WHIP?

Might as well have re-signed Paul Maholm.

Floyd’s best season was 2008, the only year he finished with an ERA under 4.00.

Get used to it, because the Braves are swimming in the shallow end of the free agent pool for the foreseeable future.

McCann ain’t coming back

Unless the owners have some elaborate collusion scheme in the works, B-Mac is gone. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Some are estimating McCann will receive a 6-year, $100 million contract, which would make the Cards feel pretty good about the 5-year, $75 million deal they gave Yadier Molina last winter. Good for McCann if he gets it, but I’m glad it won’t be my team footing the bill.

This is not the same Brian McCann we saw in 2008, when he hit .301 with a .896 OPS. He batted .256 with a .796 OPS this season, numbers in line with what he produced the previous three years.  And his September disappearing act has become an annual occurrence:

2013: 1 HR, .170 BA

’12: 2 HR, .226

’11: 2 HR .200

’10: 2 HR .221

I’ll take my chances with Gattis, Christian Bethancourt and $100 million.

Who are these internal options we’re hearing about?

Braves general manager Frank Wren has been evaluating his internal options in the event that he does not land another outfielder before the start of next season.  But as we progress through this first week of December, this still has to be viewed as Plan B.

More like Plan Surely You Must Be Joking:

  • Juan Francisco, who struck out 70 times in 192 AB in 2011. On a different team, maybe, but this Braves line-up can’t support another 150 to 200 K’s.
  • Evan Gattis, who has scant experience above Single-A and would be expected to play a position he’s ill-suited for (the converted catcher is 20 pounds heavier than Ryan Klesko, FYI).
  • Jose Constanza. No need to elaborate.
  • Ernesto Mejia, 27, who has spent 8 years in the Braves system. He’s got some pop but struck out 288 times in his last 270 games. Against minor league pitching.

FW poised to land Victorino?

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4PXaEtIUUsE/UBBtdL3T76I/AAAAAAAACdI/cpIH6d1y6MI/s1600/Shane-Victorino.jpegWith Hanson gone, it’s unlikely the Braves will deal Teheran or Delgado. So they appear set to import another free agent to fill the void in LF — ideally, a player who can lead off — instead of pursing a trade.

Enter Shane Victorino. The switch hitter, who turned 32 today, is a plus defender, accomplished base stealer (39 SB in 2012, a career best) and he doesn’t strike out a lot, averaging 75 K’s a year. Then there’s his .333 BA and .883 OPS in 60 games at The Ted.

FW could probably sign him for three years and $24-to-$27 million. There are some drawbacks to signing Victorino, notably his .320 career OBP when batting first, but I doubt the Braves can do much better at this point.

B.J. and beyond

The good, the bad and what this means for 2013.

  • Jim Bowden likes the move. That’s worrisome.
  • Upton whiffs. A lot. But so did Michael Bourn. Upton is not Bourn’s equal as a defender, but he ain’t bad.
  • Speaking of Bourn, he’s not coming back.
  • Upton will be 33 when his contract ends. Derek Lowe was 36 when he signed with the Braves.
  • Nick Swisher won’t be house-hunting in Atlanta. Be thankful.
  • Unlike Swisher, Upton (7 HR, 18 RBI and 9 SB in 25 postseason games) delivers in October.
  • Bossman Jr., who had a career-worst .298 OBP in 2012, won’t hit lead-off. FW has already said as much.
  • Most batters show more patience as they age. Not Upton. In his first full season with the Rays (his best), Upton posted a .386 OBP.
  • Conversely, Upton’s power has risen every year since 2008.
  • So who bats lead-off? Shane Victornio?? Not likely.
  • Don’t expect any other major free agent signings, since FW has an estimated $10 million left in the kitty. Besides, they can do better.
  • Trade candidates include the usual suspects: Denard Span and Dexter Fowler. Coco Crisp is another possibility, as he appears to be the odd man out of the A’s outfield after the Chris Young acquisition.
  • I’d keep the phone lines open with our old pal Dayton. Wil Myers may be wishful thinking, but Alex Gordon, signed through 2015, has surfaced in trade rumors. He has a .373 OBP, 96 doubles and 37 homers since 2011,  mostly out of the lead-off spot. Gordon has three years and $31.5 million remaining on his contract with a team option in 2016, so the Braves can afford him. Barely. A package including Julio Teheran and Nick Ahmed might do it.
  • Bet on Span. The Twins need what the Braves have — pitching, and Span is signed for two more years with a team option in 2015.

Projected 2013 line-up:

  • Span
  • Prado
  • Jay Hey
  • Freddie
  • Upton
  • McCann
  • Uggla
  • Simmons

I can live with that.

Overpay for Upton or Fowler?

That’s the question facing the Braves. Once Upton signs the Rockies will expect to get more for their talented center fielder. Same goes for the Twins and Denard Span.

I’m inclined to overpay for Upton, and reportedly the Braves feel the same way. The Phils have more money, but FW seems especially determined to ink the Tampa flychaser.

He’ll be a Brave by week’s end.

The Braves new back-up backstop won’t make anyone forget David Ross

UPDATE: It’s a two-year deal. So Laird deserves two years but Ross doesn’t? Financial terms not yet disclosed, but at best the Braves save $2 mil over two years. Penny saved, Braves fucking foolish!

According to Bowman, the Braves are near an agreement with Gerald Laird, late of the Tigers.

He’s a career .244/.303/.359 hitter in the big leagues and has thrown out approximately 27% of attempted basestealers over the last three years.

In other words, he’s Charlie O’Brien without the power.

 

Braves targeting B.J.

According to Bowman, they hoped to sign Justin’s older brother and Torii Hunter, who went to Detroit instead. B.J. Upton is still available and no free agent has more potential.

He’s not quite as fast as Bourn, or as good defensively, but he’s above average. Offensively, he’s a mixed bag. His 28 HR in 2012 were a career best, but his OBP was a career worst .298. Strange, since the 29-year-old had two seasons early in his career with OBP’s above .380.

Still, I’ll take him over Cody Ross or Victorino.

Braves interest in Cody Ross indicates unambitious course

Jon Paul Morosi reports the Braves are pursuing Cody Ross. I hate this word, but: Meh!

Ross’ overall 2012 numbers may look good, but check out the splits. At Fenway, notoriously friendly to right-handed hitters, Ross hit .298 with 13 HR and a .921  OPS. On the road, Ross hit .232 with an Uggla-esque .390 slugging percentage.

I hope this isn’t what FW means when he says the Braves are pursuing “premium players,”  ’cause Ross ain’t that.

 

No to Nick Swisher

The Braves are among six teams pursuing Nick Swisher at a starting price of three years and $11-to-$13 million per, reports Jon Heyman. I wouldn’t pay that, and I suspect he’ll get more.

Stat geeks will pillory me for this, but here’s why I’m wary of Swisher, 32 on Opening Day: 1.) He would be bad for team chemistry and 2.) He’s terrible in the clutch.

Only A-Rod is phonier, according to an SI poll of 232 players. And his postseason numbers are abysmal: 46 games, 154 AB, .169 BA, .283 OBP, .305 slugging percentage. We’ve seen enough of that in Atlanta. (Plus, he’s married to a Scientologist.)

There’s a reason the Yankees aren’t showing much interest in Swisher, and they can afford him.

The Braves can’t afford to spend $35 to $40 million next season on Swisher and Dan Uggla.

UPDATE: David Ross signs with Boston

UPDATE: DOB says Rossy will be getting $6.25 million over the next two years. The Braves paid Matt Diaz $2 million last year. 

Ross should still be a Brave. 

It won’t be David Ross, signed to a two-year deal by the effing Red Sox, reports Ken Rosenthal.

Not sure what the offer was, so I’ll reserve judgment, but I assumed Ross would be returning. The Braves lose not only the best reserve catcher in the game but a dependable right-handed bat and great clubhouse guy. I suspect we’ll see someone like Rod Barajas or Miguel Olivo, both free agents, take his place — or try to.

Evil Empire eyes Ross

Disquieting news, via Ken Rosenthal:

The Yankees, who want to re-sign Russell Martin, long have had interest in another free-agent catcher, David Ross.

Signing the best back-up backstop in baseball is a must for the Braves, who will likely be without B-Mac for the first month of 2013. Bet on him returning, as Ross seems quite comfortable in Atlanta.

Could Scott Thorman be far behind?

Everyone’s favorite .211-hitting, PED-using centerfielder is coming back! Yep, the Braves, for some reason, have picked up Jordan Schafer off waivers from Houston.

I’m going to assume this is one of those what-the-hell-nothing-to-lose moves. If this is any indication of how we’re going to replace Bourn, we shudder. It can’t be. Then again, we replaced Greg Maddux with John Thomson. That was different, one spot of five. We only play one center fielder.

If Schafer opens 2013 in center field for the Braves, I’ll read a book by Sean Hannity. I’d sooner eat the carpet under my desk chair than read a book by Sean Hannity.

In other matters, good moves to pick up the options of McCann, Huddy and Maholm. McCann will make a chunk of money. But you’re highly unlikely to find anyone better for next season. Keep him one more year, and Bethancourt should be ready for 2014. Meantime, work to sign Heyward and Freeman long-term, now.

FA’s to avoid

Nick Swisher is overrated — a below average defender who feasts on bad pitching. He has only 25 hits in 150 postseason AB’s, good for a .167 BA and .584 OPS. And he’s annoying. Very, very annoying.

Angel Pagan is a bit more serviceable, an excellent fourth OF masquerading as a starter. He doesn’t get on base enough, turns 32 in July and is horrible defensively. I can live with that in LF, but not in center.

Braves add Dominican Mahler

The Braves have signed Miguel Batista, recently released by the Mets. I have no idea why.

Batista, now with his 11th franchise, had a 4.82 ERA and 1.800 WHIP in 46 IP this season. He fills the void left by Livan Hernandez.