June 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Brandon Beachy (37) leaves the game due to injury against the Baltimore Orioles during the fourth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves’ News 12/6

Morning Chop: A Summary of Braves’ News


FW enters his walk year

Rowland’s Office

[Editorial Note: Some of us at TT agree, and offered our thoughts HERE]

Fredi is not the only member of the Braves’ hierarchy working on the final year of his contract. FW’s contract also expires after this season, though I suspect he’s a safe bet to be extended — unlike many among the team’s young core.

But should he be?

It’s difficult to judge. Under Wren’s leadership, the Braves restocked what had become a barren farm system following the disastrous Tex(as) trade, and he’s made some nifty trades, acquiring Michael Bourn and Javier Vazquez for almost nothing. He dealt Edgar Renteria at just the right time — ditto with Tommy Hanson. And even though he struggled last season, Justin Upton — owed 28.5 mil over the next two years — is a bargain in this market.

But Wren has also made some well-publicized blunders: Lowe, McLouth, Kawakami, B.J. and, of course, Uggla. Barring a turnaround by B.J., those are five big missteps, ones that a team with tight purse strings can’t afford. One-third of the Braves’ payroll is tied up on two players who hit under .200 last year.



Beachy confident in regaining health for camp


ATLANTA – Brandon Beachy was overwhelmed with frustration this past summer. As the Braves pitcher neared the end of his journey back from Tommy John surgery, he experienced more elbow discomfort and ultimately had to undergo a “clean-up” surgery in late September.

But this offseason has provided Beachy encouragement and further reason to believe he will be at full strength when the Braves begin Spring Training in February. He regained full range of motion with his elbow in late October and has continued to make progress. Last week, Beachy was cleared to begin performing exercises to re-strengthen his upper body and shoulder.

Beachy expects to begin throwing in early January.

“I’m going to use some guidelines at first to help ease into throwing, but otherwise it’s a normal offseason routine,” Beachy said.



The Braves Have Been Quiet So Far, and That is Perfectly Fine

Talking Chop

[Editorial Note: Wow, is someone out there reading our articles at TT?  Jeff? :-)]

The Braves have not had an exciting start to the offseason. So far they have lost two of the most respected players on the team to free agency and have really only offered players arbitration and settled on one year deals with Jonny Venters and Ramiro Pena, two players who were out for a majority of last season.

Meanwhile, the Nationals just made what seems to me like a heist for one of the games more underrated starters in Doug Fister. While that division rival attempts to bounce back after a rough 2013, other teams such as the Mets and Marlins have at least been working on or signing deals on relatively bigger named free agents. All of this has occurred while, as previously mentioned, the Braves have been standing put.

And that is a perfectly fine thing for the Braves to do. The team has its starting eight players already set up, aside from potentially trading Dan Uggla. In what is likely going to look more like a salary dump than anything else, the Braves probably have all eight of their starters on opening day in the organization.



NL Notes: Braves, Cubs, Phillies, Pirates, Mets

MLB Trade Rumors

After the departures of Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, the Braves have needs, and may not have much money available to meet them, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in a long essay about what to expect from the Braves in the coming weeks. They could try to trade for a pitcher like Jeff SamardzijaJohn Lackey or Kyle Lohse, or they could sign Bartolo Colon. Colon is an appealing option for the Braves, O’Brien says, because his age makes him unlikely to receive a huge contract. The Braves also hope to trade Dan Uggla to clear salary. Here are more notes from around the National League.



Nats eyeing Downs to fill lefty-reliever void


The Nationals are in need of left-handed relievers, and MLB.com has learned that the team has expressed interest in Scott Downs, who played for the Expos from 2000-04. A baseball source said the Nats have inquired about Downs at least twice. It’s not known what kind of contract Downs is seeking.

Downs, 37, was a starter when he played for Montreal, but since leaving the organization, Downs has become valuable left-handed specialist for the Blue Jays, Angels and Braves. Last season, Downs had a combined 2.59 ERA for the Angels and Braves in 43 games, while left-handers hit .259 against him.


Nationals still looking for a lefty, interested in Eric O’Flaherty

Washington Post

If the Nationals do not sign a left-handed reliever off the free agent market, it will not be for lack of a broad search.

The latest name to add to the list of southpaws the Nationals have expressed interest in, a person familiar with the situation said, is Eric O’Flaherty, a dominant Braves reliever coming off elbow reconstruction surgery.



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  • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

    So many things to say here… I’ll start with Frank Wren:

    “But Wren has also made some well-publicized blunders: Lowe, McLouth,
    Kawakami, B.J. and, of course, Uggla. Barring a turnaround by B.J.,
    those are five big missteps, ones that a team with tight purse strings
    can’t afford. One-third of the Braves’ payroll is tied up on two players
    who hit under .200 last year.”

    1. Derek Lowe/Kawakami. That year, there were 2 premier FA pitchers available. Lowe and AJ Burnett. Burnett was choice #1 and chose NYY. I always wondered how the fortunes might have been changed had both men switched teams. But this was a tough transition time as we lost Smoltz, Glavine, Hampton, and promising Chuck James. Jurrjens led the team in innings in 2008 with 188. Even Huddy only had 141 that year. We needed arms and innings. Lots of both.

    By the way, nobody complains about the ‘good’ pickup in 2009: Javy Vazquez, a risk that worked. Also, Tommy Hanson had a good year.

    2. Nate McLouth. Nobody wants to remember that he was an emergency pickup when #1 prospect Jordan Schafer messed up his wrist the first week of the year. He wasn’t an off-season trade: he was obtained IN SEASON – in May.

    Unfortunately, Wren gets blamed big-time for guys who played better when not in Atlanta: McLouth, BJ Upton, Uggla, Lowe, Kawakami… and gets no credit for good decisions: Vazquez, the incredible bullpen moves, Justin/Johnson. Guess that’s part of the job.

    • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

      I felt like linking to those posts would get some collective juices flowing, one way or the other. I suppose whether FW makes good moves or blunders will always be in the eye of the beholder, as anything is. I think much of the complaints seem simply to come from a deep-seated frustration over the Braves, typically, not appearing to be doing much of anything, and then each year the end result is the same. I don’t think most fans look at the significance of each move FW makes (good or bad) and judge it that way – I think most fans look at the overall outcome and make a summary judgement. I don’t, mind you, but I think most do.

      • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

        Bad news leads; good news is ‘expected’… such is the mantle of leadership. But yeah, you got my dopper in a dander.

      • Joseph Fain

        I just think he a) way overpaid BJ given his track record, and b) signed Uggla to an overly long extension. I thought that these deals didn’t make sense when they were made, so it isn’t just hindsight. They were poor moves based on the facts available at the time (which is how decisions should be judged) and are hamstringing the club right now.

        I don’t blame Wren for the Lowe / Kawakami signings. The Braves’ rotation the previous year was in total shambles and they were desperate to prove that they were again a desirable destination for free agents (they had just been jilted very publicly by Rafael Furcal if you remember). I did, however, think that he overextended on the Lowe contract by a year and $15-20M. I think he could have been signed for less – that is my only complaint about that deal.

        • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

          Based on the reported deal with Furcal, we actually dodged a major bullet on that one!

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

    Second topic: Ben Durino and the Braves ‘doing nothing/that’s OK’.

    No. Just no… and yes, I’m gonna rag on Wren a bit for this (unless his master plan all along has been to get David Price/unload Uggla…and then all will be forgiven if he delivers).

    Who has gotten better in the NL this off-season?
    1. Cardinals
    2. Nationals (unbelievably fleecing Detroit)
    3. Giants
    4. Pirates (if Wandy is indeed healthy, plus a couple of under radar signings)
    5. Dodgers (Wilson, Haren – he’ll be better in Calif., Billingsley back)

    Who has demonstrably gotten worse?
    1. Atlanta (losing Huddy and McCann)
    2. Cincy (lost Choo, Arroyo)

    So is Atlanta a playoff team in 2014, given the constitution of the teams involved at this point? You tell me, Ben (Durino)?

  • fireboss

    No one mentions that Wren’s first trade was possibly the worst in the long term. His first real move was Teixeira for Kotchman. There was no real reason to make that trade and we got essentially nothing for him (Sorry Casey) as Kotchman was a 0.7 War player over his year+ as a Brave. Had we kept Tex the Braves would have received the draft pick from the Yankees that instead went to the Angels. The Braves picked at number seven that year (09) and took Mike Minor their extra pick would have been back to back with that. Still on the board was a young outfielder name Mike Trout. But the Braves were as always looking for pitching so they could have elected to take Shelby Miller, Aaron Crow, Jacob Turner, or Mike Leake as well. That was a major mistake.

  • fireboss

    Next Subject: Javier Vasquez. Wren stole him from Kenny Williams because Ozzie Guillen kept saying he wasn’t a big game pitcher. Vasquez was a 6 WAR pitcher for us. Then the Braves traded him for Melky, Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino. Melky was a 1.2 WAR player in 09, Dunn threw 4 innings with a 2.0 WHIP and 6.20 ERA and hot prospect Vizcaino was a perpetually sore armed pitcher whom the Yankees felt wouldn’t be ready any time soon.

    In 2010 Melky was a -0.3 WAR joke, Dunn was okay but replaceable and Vizcaino threw 85 innings in a and A+ ball.

    That was an awful trade. Vasquez hated NY.and the Yankees were fools to bring him back where he’d failed before. He wasn’t as good for them but returning to the NL in 2010 the next year and pitching with an injury early on was still a 2.9 War 192 inning pitcher for the Fish. Bad move.