Posted by Connor Tapp on 7th October 2009
Most of the Braves’ struggles on offense in 2009 stemmed from their inability to obtain offensive production from the positions on the field where you typically expect the most production: the infield and outfield corners.
In right field, Jeff Francoeur was, well, Jeff Francoeur. Ryan Church didn’t provide the relief from Frenchy’s awfulness for which the Braves had hoped. Matt Diaz provided some late-season spark, but thinking of him as anything more than the short end of a platoon would be a mistake on par with, say, signing Garret Anderson to be your every day left fielder.
The failures of the corner infield positions were a little more unexpected. Not even those dimmest on Casey Kotchman’s prospects expected him to be as bad as he was during his brief tenure with the Braves. But the Atlanta finally found their guy at first base in Adam LaRoche only to see him become a free agent at the season’s close. While it would be nice to be able to re-sign LaRoche, doing so will be costly and will likely keep Adam in Atlanta a good bit beyond Freddie Freeman’s ETA in the big leagues.
On the other side of the diamond, Chipper Jones’ inability to remain healthy presents problems of its own. Enduring Chipper’s frailty in order to enjoy his effective-when-healthy schtick is now a deeply ingrained part of Braves tradition. But the novelty has begun to wear thin, especially when he’s not delivering a 1.000+ OPS as he did in 2008 and 2007 and Martin Prado is the guy filling in for him a couple times a week. Don’t get me wrong, Prado is a serviceable second baseman with room yet to improve, but his bat doesn’t play at third base.
There’s a potential solution here that might allow Frank Wren to solve two problems at once: move Chipper to first base. Jones wouldn’t be the first player to move across the diamond to keep his body healthy and his bat in play. Third base is one of the most physically demanding positions on the field, and moving him to first might prove to be less strain on his body. Furthermore, Chipper’s defense at third these days is either average or awful, depending on which metric you use.
As I’ve mentioned, this solution could potentially solve two problems: 1) the void at first base 2) Chipper Jones’ health.
It does, however, create another problem: the void at third base. Fortunately, I have an answer which, I think, solves that problem quite well: sign Adrian Beltre.
But more on that tomorrow.
Tags: Adam LaRoche, Adrian Beltre, Chipper Jones, Garret Anderson, Jeff Francoeur, Martin Prado, Matt Diaz, Ryan Church
Posted in Off-Season | No Comments »
Posted by Connor Tapp on 6th October 2009
Tim Hudson ($12 million club option) – All indications seem to be that the Braves will pick up Hudson’s option. And with the way he pitched so well so soon after Tommy John surgery, why not?
Adam LaRoche – This will be a tough call for Frank Wren. LaRoche is decent enough and is certainly an improvement over the sad sack we were employing before he returned. However, I’m expecting LaRoche will want a long-term contract. As such, it might not make a whole lot of sense to pay to bring him back. For what it’s worth, LaRoche is projected to be a Type B free agent.
Rafael Soriano – Right-handed relievers are a dime a dozen. He’s going to be a Type A free agent. Let him walk. Take the compensatory picks.
Mike Gonzalez – Left-handed relievers that can also retire right-handed batters are a slightly rarer bird. I’d bring him back. His lack of a “closer” tag should make him slightly cheaper than Soriano. Should the Braves decide to let him go, Gonzalez would also be a Type A free agent.
Garret Anderson – If Wren re-signs Anderson and his .723 OPS, I might become a Mets fan.
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.
Greg Norton – Meh. Why bother?
Tags: Adam LaRoche, Garret Anderson, Greg Norton, Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Tim Hudson
Posted in Off-Season | No Comments »
Posted by Connor Tapp on 13th August 2009
For the second night in a row, the Nationals got on the scoreboard against Atlanta in the top of the first, but – for the second night a row – the Braves came storming back.
Derek Lowe gave up three hits and a walk in the first inning, but managed to limit the damage to one run when Nyjer Morgan was caught stealing and Josh Willingham grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Atlanta got things going in the bottom of the second when Garret Anderson and Adam LaRoche hit a pair of solo shots to take the lead away from Washington. The Nationals tied it back up in the top of the seventh inning when a Ronnie Belliard single drove in Elijah Dukes.
The seventh was the last inning that Lowe would work. He continued to struggle with his control of the strike zone, walking four batters in seven innings pitched. Still, Lowe had the ground ball machine in full effect, generating 11 of outs via the grounder. Given his consistent performance over the past several years and his ability to maintain his groundball skills, you have to think Lowe will eventually start finding the plate with more consistency.
In the bottom of the seventh, Adam LaRoche quickly helped the Braves retake the lead on the strength of his second solo homerun of the game. Atlanta pulled away in the bottom of the eight with a three-run inning that got kick-started by a Martin Prado solo shot. LaRoche and Greg Norton walked in the Braves’ final two runs later that inning.
Peter Moylan and Mike Gonzalez held the Nationals scoreless in two innings of relief.
LaRoche continues to be scorching hot, with 13 hits in 35 at bats (including three homeruns) since he was acquired from Boston.
Nate McLouth sat out yet another game and remains day-to-day with a sore hamstring.
The Rockies and Phillies both won tonight (the latter in Pedro Martinez’ triumphant debut), so the Braves don’t gain any ground in the wild card or the NL East with tonight’s win.
Tags: Adam LaRoche, Derek Lowe, Nationals
Posted in Braves Games Recap | 1 Comment »