Notes on 755 Hank Aaron Dr

Thursday, June 18, 2009

They are who we thought they were

We're approaching the halfway point of the 2009 season, so it seemed like an appropriate point to do a season preview. Or a season review. Or at least, for the blog to surface once again. Plus, this week is a bit of a "down week" for me, and I'm currently copying files off my laptop in preparation for a rebuild. So...

At the end of the 2008 season, the Braves were in rough shape, looking ahead. The pitching staff was Jair Jurrjens and a bunch of fifth starter candidates (Morton, Reyes, Campillo, etc.). The bullpen was either on the DL, just returned from the DL, or middle relievers. The outfield was junk. The lone bright spot was the infield, with Chipper, McCann, and Escobar, with the question mark of Kotchmann over at first. And both Prado and Infante looked like valuable utility men.

So, obviously, the Braves needed a complete overhaul for 2009. But, at the same time, they had a number of guys at the lower to mid levels of the minors coming along, who they didn't want to block.

Overall, I was happy with what the front office did in the offseason. They focused their attention on the starting rotation, and signed a short-term fill-in in the outfield. As spring training started, you could say that you would rather have Adam Dunn/Bobby Abreu/Pat Burrell than Kenshin Kawakami, but that wasn't a clear choice at the time Kawakami was signed. (Lowe and Vasquez were yet to be acquired at the time.)

With that all said, the current position of the Braves is about what you could have expected. They're right around .500, where they've hovered most of the season. I'd expect that they'll continue around there all season. So, how should the Braves approach the rest of 2009?

First off, I think that it's important that they not get caught up in the idea that they're "one player away". They're only one player away if that one player is Pujols, or maybe 2001-2004 Barry Bonds. Anyone that they can reasonably acquire in-season is not going to be a difference-maker. (If another trade like the McLouth one presents itself, they should listen, at the least. Getting a quality major leaguer for spare parts is always a good move.)

Secondly, it's important that they figure out what some of the guys at AAA are capable of. Garret Anderson may be playing better than he was, but he's not going to be (or at least, we should all hope that he's not going to be) on the team in 2010. Replace him with Brandon Jones. Replace Francoeur with Brian Barton. (Let Jeff try and sort himself out in AAA; he's got no trade value right now, and he's not getting better in the majors. If he gets turned around, great, but right now he needs to be considered a lost cause.) Keep Schafer in AAA for the rest of the season, but pencil him in for 2010. Drop a reliever if necessary, but get Barbaro Canizares back on the roster. You need a bat on the bench. (If Norton won't retire, release him when he's healthy. I think he's done...)

After the season, decide if you need another OF, or if what you have is good enough.



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