It’s time once again for one of my rare and random sports related posts…
Having grown up in Atlanta, I became a fan of the various Atlanta sports teams (except the hockey team, I just don’t understand how somebody that lives in a state that almost never has ice on the ground can follow such a sport). With the baseball season winding down, and the Braves out of the hunt, I felt this was a good time to put up my idea for what will make a successful off-season.
- C – We’re set as long as Brian McCann is healthy and David Ross is happy as a back-up
- 1B – Resign Adam LaRoche to be the starter next year
- 2B – Keep Martin Prado as the starter. Trade Kelly Johnson as part of a deal for an upgrade elsewhere (or left handed pitching prospect perhaps)
- SS – Keep Yunel Escobar as the starter
- 3B – Move Chipper Jones to LF. Replace him at 3B with Omar Infante (will need to be resigned) or somebody brought in via Free Agency or trade (Chone Figgins, Troy Glaus, Hank Blalock, etc)
- LF – Let Garret Anderson depart via Free Agency, Chipper will replace him in the position (If we keep Chipper at 3B, then Free Agent options for the OF would include Bobby Abreu, Rick Ankiel, Carl Crawford, Matt Holliday, Xavier Nady, Magglio Ordonez, etc)
- CF – Keep Nate McLouth in CF until Jordan Shaefer is ready for the majors, then move McLouth to RF and Shaefer takes over CF
- RF – Do not bring up Heyward until mid-season (for later arbitration reasons). Keep Matt Diaz as the starter until Shaefer or Heyward are ready to come up to the majors full time, then Diaz becomes 4th OFer. If both Shaefer and Heyward come up next year, and Chipper is moved to LF, then Sheafer becomes the 4th OFer, with McLouth in CF, and Heyward in RF.
- Bench – Keep Ryan Church as a bat off the bench, but add one more older “power” bat off the bench (Mike Sweeney, Carlos Delgado, Jim Thome, Gary Sheffield, etc)
- This creates a lineup of:
Escobar, McLouth, Chipper, new OF/3B, McCann, LaRouche, Diaz, Prado
Prado, Escobar, Chipper, LaRouche, McCann, McLouth, Infante, Diaz
- SP – Resign Tim Hudson (Perhaps add 2 years to his contract, but lower his cost for the upcoming season. Even offer him the option on the additional years if needed). Rotation will be:
Derek Lowe (R) Javier Vazquez (R) Jair Jurrjens (R) Tim Hudson (R) Tommy Hanson (R)
This leaves Kenshin Kawakami in the bullpen, or allows flexibility to trade one starter to fill 3B or OF (if Chipper stays at 3B) gap in the lineup.
The most obvious drawback to this rotation is the same issue we has this season, we have 6 righties and no lefties. In an ideal scenario I’d like at least one lefty starter to give other teams a drastically different look.
- RP – Resign at least one of: Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, both if at all possible
Depending on resigning on Hudson, we should be able to trade Kelly Johnson and one SP (Vasquez seems the move logical to trade, although I personally want to keep him, but he’ll give the best return of the “trade-able” SPers) to fill the 3B or OF position.
If we pick up an OFer, it should be on a 1 year contract, as Heyward should be ready to replace them full time by 2011.
If we pick up a 3B and move chipper to LF, we should resign LaRouche for only 1 year, and then move Chipper to 1B for 2011 season (assuming he is going to retire as a Brave, unlike virtually every great Brave’s player in history who ended their career elsewhere).
Ideally this gives us one major upgrade in the lineup (either Chipper replaces Anderson in LF and is replaced by reasonably close production at 3B, or the OF spot is filled from FA or trade of Kelly Johnson).
Even if the lineup remains relatively consistent, this should add depth to the team (especially after Heyward’s almost certain promotion next June/July) that we did not have this season, allowing Chipper (and others) to take a few more days off so he is not constantly playing hurt.
This also gives us a very similar payroll to our current one (obviously dependent on the cost of the acquisitions and resignings).
And our SPing should be as good as it was this year.
And to finish off this post, I thought I would share a quote I came across on SI.com (I am adding this even though it’s primary about the Pirates, but it does mention the Braves and it’s funny as hell, therefor it’s fair game):
Rubenstein: I think the Pirates are just looked at as every team’s second Triple-A team: “Well, time to call up Nate McLouth to the Braves. He’s been able to do it when it hasn’t counted in Pittsburgh, so let’s give him a chance to hit when it matters.” Rinse. Repeat.