Monday, October 6, 2008

Bowman answers, I answer him...

Mark Bowman has posted his recent mailbag. By the way, I sometimes thinks he searches out very easy questions.

(on a power hitting outfielder...)

When looking for potential options, it's easiest to look at the outfielders who will be free agents this winter. Pat Burrell and Adam Dunn fit this category. But I haven't gotten the sense either of these players are high on the club's wish list. Plus, Wren provided some indication that if possible, he'd like to fill this need via the trade market.

That's all fine and dandy, but remember, this team is not an outfielder away from competing. I fully understand not wanting to sign Burrell or Dunn. Both are defensive problems, both have huge question marks (can Burrell have a good non-contract year, does Dunn's unique hitting ability ultimately help teams win), and both are probably way too expensive. But you can't throw your prospects at a left fielder when you have more holes to fix than just that. I think a good leftfielder is worth three or four wins over Matt Diaz, Brandon Jones, and company. But the Braves need, and I mean need, to focus on the pitching and not get off that focus. I don't care what that means...if you waste prospects on a left fielder and don't win, you have fucked up. Period.

If the Angels, who are also preparing for a busy offseason, decline Vladimir Guerrero's option and he becomes a free agent, he'd might be more attractive than any of the current crop of likely free agents. But can you really count on him to play more than 125 games in the outfield?

Well, no, they won't decline his option. The other point is somewhat valid. Vlad has played more than 125 games in the outfield just twice since 2002. The rock hard turf in Olympic Stadium totaled his baseball longevity in the outfield. Or did it? Well, he won't have the DH in the NL if he chooses to join an NL team after next year...but it could be just as likely as the Angels have been spelling their outfielders in the DH to keep them all healthy.

Each of their outfielders appeared in nine games as a DH, including super defender Torri Hunter. Garrett Anderson and Guerrero got the bulk of the starts, but Juan Rivera and Gary Matthews also played often. I think Vlad could play 130-140 games easy in the outfield if he had to. His offensive numbers would probably be hurt, too.

While looking for an outfielder Wren could land via trade, it might be best to look at the players eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. Matt Holliday and Jason Bay headline this list. With Bay enjoying instant stardom in Red Sox Nation, it's seeming likely that he and his affordable contract will be staying in Boston.

A more likely option for Atlanta could be Xavier Nady, who was on Wren's radar before being traded to the Yankees before this year's Trade Deadline. If the Yankees are willing to deal, the Braves certainly have reason to make an offer for Nady, who could double his $3.35 million salary through arbitration.

And now I'm scared. Are we seriously going to revisit the J.D. Drew mess? How good would Adam Wainwright look in this rotation? Now, granted, without Drew, the Braves probably don't make the playoffs that year, but let's be serious for a second. The Braves can't afford to waste Thomas Hanson on a one year rental and that's what this whole thing boils down to. Nady could be sensible, though.

With Nady in place, the Yankees might be more apt to say goodbye to Bobby Abreu, who is reportedly looking for a three-year contract. At 34 years old, Abreu might not be worth the $16 million salary that he earned this past season. But coming off consecutive 100-RBI seasons, he's certainly worth a look.

Well, I think the Yanks will retain Abreu....but he will likely be much more expensive than the Braves want to, or should, put out for an outfielder.

On the subject of Jo-Jo Reyes...

Reyes has the physical tools to be successful at the Major League level. Tom Glavine and John Smoltz liked him enough that they monitored many of his bullpen sessions until he decided that the Hall of Fame knowledge they were providing was handicapping his mental process during games.

Late in the season, Reyes revealed that around the All-Star break, he told Glavine and Smoltz that he didn't want their assistance anymore. That was only slightly less disturbing than the fact that he admitted he came to his first Major League Spring Training this year unprepared to consistently locate his pitches.

Given all of the embarrassment he encountered this year, Reyes has every reason to push himself as hard as ever over the next few months. He's already tested the patience of a very patient Bobby Cox, and that obviously suggests his future with the Braves might be on its last leg.

Are you freaking kidding me? John Smoltz and Tom Glavine try to help you and that's what is handicapping your mental process? Maybe it's because you pitched very poorly. Reyes is kind of the latest example of the Braves hurler...helped on by pitchers' parks, who truly, isn't that much of a prospect. But because of a lack of options, he grows into a last hope for the Braves. If Bobby Cox is tired of you, your days are definitely numbered.

Jo-Jo, you're seriously on notice.


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