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.