The Final Cuts

I said a week or so ago we’d know soon whether this was a new ear or more of the same. Cautiously I’d say that today’s roster changes indicate a new era. In case you haven’t heard Joe Mather was placed on waivers and Scott Proctor released, while Brooks Conrad, Brandon Hicks and Matt Young join David Ross and Eric Hinske on the bench. Conrad goes on the basis of last year’s heroics and nothing else. he’s not shown he can catch the ball any better at second or short and playing him at 1st as they did once this spring is pure comedy. Hicks has been hitting better as the Spring progressed. and that paired with his superior fielding, made him the choice over Lucas whose bat cooled a lot lately. The real surprise for me is Matt Young. Not that I’m against it, I’ve been a fan of the little outfielder for a while but thought his left handed bat in a lineup already full of lefties would result in Mather being the choice.  The release of Proctor means Cristhian Martinez gets the last bullpen slot after strong multi-inning outings while Proctor never found anything like major league form. These choices signal more than a couple of new bench players getting a chance, it completes the exorcism of Bobby Cox from the dugout and the first real signs of Fredi Gonzales’ managerial direction.

HicksIn Young and Hicks he chose two career Braves who’ve proven themselves in the minors and were able to do it under the pressure of roster competition this spring. Their youth and enthusiasm will help energize a team that thinks – as I do – that the Phillies are showing their age much sooner than anyone expected. The addition of Uggla, undoubted ability of Prado and a resurgent Chipper lift the weight from McLouth and Freeman’s shoulders and allows them to just go out and play. The only remaining dubious roster selections – Sherrill and Conrad – should be on a short leash. Sherrill was worse this spring than ProctorMatt Young head. As Bob pointed out last week, even lefties smacked him around. With O’Flaherty and Venters a strong lefty duo already available his usefulness as a lefty one out only guy is diminished, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding Utley’s playing time this year. Conrad was kept to bring late inning lightening. If he doesn’t he too is expendable, more so if Mather clears waivers and he or Ed Lucas find their stroke at Gwinnett.

Those of you who remember the kerfuffle here when Scott Diamond was claimed on waivers might be interested to know the Twins like him enough to want to trade to keep him rather than sending him back. I speculated on some options the Twins could offer that I’d look hard at  a while back in another venue. After looking at the Twins prospect list they have a couple of outfielders and a third baseman worth a peek. The one I’d ask for is Aaron Hicks a switch hitting center fielder with speed and a ++ arm. he doesn’t hit for much power yet and is only 21 but he walks a bunch (OBP of 401 in low A last year) and the twins look pretty well set in center so they might do that. I’d also be interested in Nate Roberts a left handed hitting corner outfielder who played in Rookie + last year, Anderson Hidalgo a third baseman who played in low A, Oswaldo Arcia a switch hitting outfielder in rookie + last year and Angel Morales a center fielder from high A ball. In reality we OUGHT to make this trade and get something worthwhile back. Fifty thousands bucks these days is coffee money.  While Frank Wren has consistently stocked the minors with good pitchers we are short of high quality outfield and infield prospects where our holes look to be. This could be a chance to fill one of them with a known entity instead of a late round draft choice, a waiver claim  or a rehab project.

Braves Not For Sale

Most of you read Bob’s note on the report that Liberty Media were ready to sell the Braves. Today during the game Chip interviewed Braves CEO Terry McGuirk who flatly denied those reports, said the numbers used in them were completely inaccurate and that the story was a work of fiction.  In such things there’s always doubt. Such a strong denial smells a little like a vote of confidence for a manager just before a team goes anew direction. On the other hand there are already two teams on or near being on the market; Houston and LA. Time will tell where this story goes of course and since I didn’t win the powerball I am financially short of the wherewithal a down payment.

Let us know what you think of the final roster moves and the non-sale of the Braves. We’re all ears.

Topics: Brandon Hicks, Brooks Conrad, Cristhian Martinez, Fredi Gonzalez, Matt Young, Roster Cuts

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  • BC Clemmons

    I don’t have much issue with the roster with possibly the exception of Conrad. His inability to play defense possibly cost the Braves playoff wins last year and backed that up with a miserable spring(both at the plate and with the glove).To me those home runs he hit last year are fading.Hide his glove and maybe he will get some unexpected hits like last year.Fingers crossed for him, he is a Brave.
    This brings up another issue, we can crunch the numbers all day long, but we have not one idea if this person or that person is good in the clubhouse or a disease.Team chemistry is not to be overlooked.This could have helped Conrad bid for the team. This also could be why Sherrill stays on the team, we are not privy to everything, he could be there to further the education of Venters & Kimbrell.Regardless, he is on the team and it should be every Braves fans hope he is a asset.
    Spring Training is closing down.Let’s play some games that count and see what the identity of this team will be under new boss Gonzalez.

  • Bob Horton

    Hey Fred and BC!

    First, kudos to Fred for a great piece on the “final solution”. I won’t even bother with one after reading this one. A couple of things to think about: 1) There might still be a little 11th hour roster manipulation. I have it from someone who should know that JJ is going to be DL’d retroactively and his and Beachy’s first starts flip-flopped. I think if JJ’s injury were computer code it’d be deemed vaporware. It would allow the Braves to carry an extra position player for 6 days or so. Ideally the Braves would like for that player to be Mather, but I guess that would depend on whether he cleared waivers or not and 2) I think Fred is spot on about the sale denial. I even said in my write up that the Braves would deny it. (that was longer than I thought; maybe I shoul have made it a post!).

    BC, I think you are right about all us fans pulling together to pull for the team we do have rather than bitch about the one we wish we had. Man, I’m even hoping that the “ghost of Sherrill past” inhabits his body and no one gets a hit off him all season!

    Bob

  • Fred Owens

    I always root for the Braves and hope the players do well. I just try to be realistic about it. I suspect though I have no proof, that a couple of good Sherrill outings would make him excellent trade bait. I just don’t think he’s any more than what his card says she is, a below average guy who had a good year. I’ll happily eat my words if he performs such that I should.
    Winners have good chemistry, losers don’t. As I pointed out when he was signed, he has no real pressure performance to draw on as examples. He isn’t Wagner or even Linebrink who have been there and done it. He went there and blew it. Frankly they don’t need that lesson.
    I read somewhere that the flip flop Bob suggests could happen, I see no reason to doubt that OTOH as I said in reply to another post I think JJ is injury prone and no matter how good he is when healthy he will be another of those “just imagine if he’d been healthy” guys.
    Was really happy for Young and Hicks, I love it when hard work pays off.

  • Bob Horton

    Hey Fred,

    And the other thing with JJ — you may have already said this, but if so I think it bears repeating — is that he’s a Boras client. He’s not signing an extension here and I very seriously doubt we will be able to afford him as a free agent. IMO, then, the key with JJ would be to trade him in the “sweet spot” of when his value is highest and when the team can afford him not being here. I think it’s too early to trade him, but the day is approaching.

    I try also to be supportive yet realistic. I guess if everyone agreed on everything the world would be a lot more boring :).

    Bob

  • Fred Owens

    I think I said that in a reply at some point. If he gets healthy for a stretch and Minor is ready or Medlen in back or another option is available, he will be an excellent chip for a quality bat from a team in need.
    Boras is IMNSHO a miracle worker. He actually got overrated, over paid under performing Oliver – I will not go to the minors – Perez a job even though Perez has shown he was a one hit wonder without the mental toughness to play and win consistently the big league level. Remarkable.

  • Bob Horton

    I’m amazed at how often he can get owners to bid against themselves and pay exorbitent prices for an asset when no one else wants it. As an agent that represents intellectual property rights holders, I can’t tell you how hard that is to do. Of course, I think it also makes it extremely difficult to do business with people a second time after you screw them over the first time, plus it often makes your clients pay for your sins. As such, it’s not in my playbook. Plus, I guess I define integrity in a different manner. And no one makes these guys do business with him!

    Bob

  • Fred Owens

    Because Boras gets big $$ he gets big names and you almost have to at least try to do business with him at some point. I’ve heard him say remarkable things to justify his contracts, the biggest lie being that it raises everyone’s salary and there’s plenty there for everyone. One day he’ll trip and 20 or so GMs will applaud. The rest will pay him for his gymnastic prowess.

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