Braves Rumors: Andruw, Crisp, DeJesus, etc.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution chimes in today with some pretty interesting Braves rumors:

  • Atlanta GM Frank Wren believes the Braves have three needs they need to fill: A left-handed reliever (who doesn’t need one?), a utility man who can also act as Yunel Escobar’s primary backup at shortstop (Cesar Izturis or Juan Uribe maybe?), and a stopgap center fielder.
  • As far as center field goes, Braves fans should not expect any major moves, including resigning Andruw Jones.  In fact, O’Brien mentions that the Braves are not likely to even offer arbitration to Jones.  This completely baffles me.  Why not offer arbitration to Jones and grab a 1st round pick when Andruw signs elsewhere?  The worse case scenario would have Jones earning around $15M for just one season.
  • Anyway, it appears the Braves will try to acquire either Coco Crisp or David DeJesus to play CF but if they fail to land one of those two, they will give the job to one of three in-house candidates – Jordan Schafer, Josh Anderson, or Gregor Blanco.
  • Mike Hampton is hurt again (hurt his leg again in his winter league debut), which is kind of hilarious (not the injury, but the timing) considering we just inducted his fleecing of the Rockies into the “Great Moments in Fleece History.”
  • The Braves are not currently looking for a starting pitcher.  They believe they have eight potential starters on hand in John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, Mike Hampton (ha), Chuck James, JoJo Reyes, Jair Jurrjens and Jeff Bennett.    They do have some depth there,  although they may want to buy a few rocking chairs for the first three.

Great Moments in Fleece History: The Mike Hampton Signing

In light of Mike Hampton’s newest comeback, let’s take a look at his greatest accomplishment, and induct it into the Great Moments in Fleece History.

Even though former Astro and Met Mike Hampton was the prize pitcher on the market that winter, when the Colorado Rockies signed Mike Hampton in 2000, it seemed a bit excessive.  But I do not think anyone imagined the extent to which Hampton fleeced Colorado at the time.  It is a fleece that keeps on fleecing as 3 teams have now been involved and there is still one more year of fleecing to go. 

The Date: December 9th, 2000

The Players:  Colorado General Manager Dan O’Dowd (the fleecee) and Mike Hampton and his agent Mark Rodgers (the fleecers).

The Fleece:  The Colorado Rockies signed 28 year old pitcher Mike Hampton to an eight-year, $123.8M contract which, at the time, was the largest contract in baseball.

The Result:  Well, not so good for Colorado.  Hampton lasted just two years in the Mile High city, posting a disastrous 21-28 record with a disgusting and hideous 5.75 ERA.  (Note to Dan O’Dowd:  This was actually LOWER than Hampton’s career ERA at Coors Field prior to the signing – 6.88!  What were you thinking?  Seriously, were you alright at the time? We need to know.  Because this was just plain awful management, sir.)

After the 2002 season, the Rockies actually paid the Florida Marlins to get Hampton out of their sights.  That same winter, the Marlins then shipped him to Atlanta, who hoped that pitching guru Leo Mazzone could fix him. 

Hampton’s first two years in Atlanta were slightly above average as he won 27 games and posted an ERA close to 4.0.   But he was anything but the $16M per year pitcher he was being paid (mostly by Colorado) to be.   In 2006 and 2007, the fleecing increased even more as Hampton was out for the entirety of both seasons (collecting nearly $32M in the process) with elbow problems.  Hampton is currently rehabbing and hoping to be in the Braves rotation by April so that he can hit the free agent market next winter and attempt to fleece again.

Strangely, Dan O’Dowd (pictured above), who was also fleeced by Denny Neagle that same winter and later by Todd Helton, survived this signing.  He changed his philosophy (although probably forced by management) and lead the team through a rebuilding phase that has recently paid huge dividends in the form of a 2007 NL pennant.   Still, Dan O’Dowd will probably most be remembered for being fitted for a huge fleece by the likes of Mr. Hampton. This fleece was one of the worst free agent decisions of all time.

Brave New World?

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Well, not exactly.  This past weekend, the Atlanta-Journal Constutution reported that Chipper Jones is expected to sign a contract extension with the Atlanta Braves within the next year, which will likely may him a Brave for life. 

Chipper Jones is now 35 years of age, and will make a relatively small $11M next season, and has a vesting option for 2009 with the team based on plate appearances.   While Jones has battled injuries through the years, he plays at a MVP-caliber level when on the diamond.   My thinking was that a shift to the American League as a DH to finish his career would make the most sense, but it appears Chipper is perfectly content staying put in Hot-lanta.

Fleece for Sale in the Bronx?

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According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Yankees are the favorites to sign lefty reliever Ron Mahay, who almost everyone considers to be the best available lefty on the market.  Mahay finished last season with the Atlanta Braves, after being sent over in a trade from Texas.  The Yankees are sorely in need of a lefty for the pen, with no current ones on the roster for next season, and have a penchant for severely overpaying for bullpen help (see Kyle Farnsworth, and many others).  I see a definite fleece by Mahay and his agent in this one.  I could easily see the Yankees give him $4M per, even though he is 36 years old.  Ron Mahay was 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA in 2007.

Other teams that appear seriously interested include the Brewers, Royals, Astros and Phillies. 

Glavine a Brave…Again

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According to the Associated Press, Tom Glavine has agreed to a 1-year $8 million deal with the Atlanta Braves. No deal has been announced yet, but sources state Glavine has already taken a physical.

The NY Mets will be compensated with a  1st round pick in next year’s draft because Glavine signed before December 1st.

Anyway, chicks dig the long ball…

Tom Glavine to Return to Atlanta?

glavinebraves.jpgTom Glavine is believed to be close to returning to the place where it all started.

On Friday evening, the Atlanta Braves came one step closer to re-signing the veteran 300-game winner to a one year contract for 2008. Glavine’s agent was preparing a counter-offer on Friday, as the inital contract offer is believed to be worth close to $7 million. A deal could be finalized as soon as Saturday.

The Braves’ starting rotation has been shaky, to say the least, over the last 2 seasons. Tom Glavine will fit nicely into the # 3 slot behind John Smoltz and Tim Hudson. But how much does Glavine have left? He posted a 4.45 ERA for the NY Mets in 2007, while going 13-8. His veteran presence in the rotation should offer stability and leadership, something Atlanta has been seeking. On the flip side, his best years are far behind him, and the Braves could be using that money to fill other areas of need. In accepting this offer, Glavine would be taking a significant pay decrease in order to return home.

 More to come when the signing is completed…

Josh Anderson Traded for Oscar Villarreal

houston_astros_logo.pngbraveslogo.jpgThere was a minor trade today, but it’s worth mentioning.  The Houston Astros traded outfielder Josh Anderson to the Atlanta Braves for relief pitcher Oscar Villareal.

It seems like a harmless trade on the surface, but I really don’t understand Atlanta’s take on this.  What value does Josh Anderson – seemingly a AAAA player – add to their club?  Why trade an established, relatively young and affordable middle reliever for him?   Atlanta’s bullpen isn’t that healthy to begin with.   I don’t see how decreasing their bullpen depth by adding a bench player improved the club.   I think Houston wins this one.