Posted on: November 25, 2008 4:11 am

GM for a Day: Atlanta Braves

This won't just serve as my Braves edition of GM for a Day but as my forum to bash Frank Wren.  Two awful trades both involving Mark Teixeira may have ruined the franchise for the next few years.  The first was technically under Schuerholz, but as the assistant GM and obvious successor he could have blocked the deal. 

Trade 1.

The Braves send Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Beau Jones and Matt Harrison to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay.
The Braves also recieve a compensation pick for Ron Mahay going to the Royals, they take Brett DeVall with the 40th pick. 

Trade 2

The Braves send Mark Teixeira to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek.
The Angels will also recieve two compensation picks in the 25-35 range if Mark Teixeira signs somewhere else.

I really don't mind trade one if they would have only given up one of Feliz and Andrus.  Feliz wasn't as highly regarded at the time, but he was a 19 year old pitching lights out with ace potential.  He's the type of player that you either put off limits are count as a marquee prospect when you move.  You don't add him in as a throw in player.  He is now considered one of the top 10 pitching prospects in the game. 

I can see why they gave up Andrus when they had Escobar and Lillibridge in the system, but why Andrus of the 3?  He had the highest ceiling as a player.  If I'm a GM he is the guy I want to keep above all else.  Escobar is overrated to begin with.  He's all defense, has already topped out in the SB department, and you are looking at a max of 12-15 HR for his entire career.  Plus Escobar had more value because he was major league ready.  Lillibridge is a good prospect but nothing special.  Andrus is a great defender with plus speed and projectable on base skills.  He is now arguably the best SS prospect in the game.

I agree with trading Salty (blocked), Harrison (tops out as a #3) and Jones (probably ends up a lefty reliever).  When it comes down to it, 3 blue chip prospects is too much to give up for 1.3 seasons of Teixeira.  They could have gotten the deal done for only two of Salty/Andrus/Feliz if they'd waited a week.  There is no way another team was giving up a better 3 prospects than that group.  They bought high on Tex.....

And then they sold low on Tex a year later.  Kotchman is awful.  I'm sorry he is.  His ceiling is hitting about .300-.310 with 20 HR and 90 RBI. I honestly don't think he's going to reach those numbers with Atlanta.  Even if he does, he's a 1B, and that doesn't cut it, especially in the NL.  Can the Braves really base an offense around Kotchman, McCann and 120 games of Chipper?  Not if they expect to compete.  Frank Wren clogged what is supposed to be a power position with a below average player for the next 3 seasons.  Why?  So they could hang on to their miniscule playoff hopes last season?  A minor league journeymen 1B could have hit the .285, 18 HR, 85 RBI that Kotchman was on pace for before the trade, and replacing Tex with those numbers is throwing in the towel anyway.  Oh and Stephen Marek is failed starter converted to relief who projects as nothing more than a 7th inning guy.  Great haul.

Why didn't they just try for prospects?  They could have gotten at least one elite prospect and then a bunch of guys like Marek.  How about Nick Adenhart and Stephen Marek for Tex?  With the emergence of Saunders and Santana last year he became available.  Then they trade for someone like Hank Blalock or sign Joe Crede to incentive laden deal and move him to first to keep him healthy.  Isn't that better than Kotchman? (hel the two compensation picks and a FA would have been better than Kotchman and Marek) Then they could have tried Adenhart down the stretch, who probably would have fared better in the weaker NL than he did in his first callup with the Angels.  Maybe then the Braves only need one starting pitcher instead of two right now.

And one last point before I get to the actual intention of this article.  If the Braves don't trade for Teixeira, not only do they have the best farm system in baseball on the stregnth of Hanson, Feliz, Andrus, Heyward and Schafer, but they also likely fall a few places down the standings and their first round pick in the 2008 draft becomes protected.  Than the Tom Glavine signing looks slightly less bad when they don't have to give up their draft pick.  But really who would have thought that $8 million and the 18th overall pick for a 42 year old would have turned out bad?

OK now finally on topic and to the offseason moves

1.  Trade for Jake Peavy already.  It won't make you a playoff team, but do it anyway.  My reasoning is this.  Escobar has more value this offseason than he is likely to at any point after it.  Gorkys Hernandez will never play for Atlanta with Schafer and Heyward ahead of him.  Boyer and Morton are nothing special.  Add another prospect, upgrade one of the pitchers for someone like Kris Medlen or Randall Delgado and see if they bite.  Do something.  There is no special players in this group, but Frank Wren will be afraid to pull the trigger anyway after the Braves were fleeced in the first Teixeira trade.  It wouldn't surprise me if Wren being gunshy forced the deal to fall thru for good.  Besides, the Braves need to add someone to anchor the rotation and I guarantee they are outbid on CC, Burnett and Lowe.  It's a deal that has to be made.

2.  Sign Jon Garland.  I like sinkerballers who can eat innings, and an innings eater fits well into this team.  You can also expect a boost in his numbers in moving to the NL. 

3.  Offer Rafael Soriano to the Rays for Reid Brignac.  The Rays need help at the back of the bullpen and Brignac may have become expendable with Maddon's man crush on Jason Bartlet and the drafting of Tim Beckham.  With the rest of my moves they can't afford Furcal, and they need to spend on a power hitting OF instead of a leadoff type.  I had Renteria here for a second but changed it, his .239 average against RHP was just too bad to pay him the money he'll command.  Just let Brignac and Lillibridge fight for the spot, one of them will take over.  If that trade doesn't work Renteria is the guy to go with despite his flaws.  Something tells me he'd take less to go back to at Atlanta, and a 2 year deal would be relatively low risk.

4.  Sign Adam Dunn.  They need a power hitter in LF and I like him because he can eventually take over 1B.  In a year or two when Heyward and Schafer are both ready you play them in the OF with Francouer, move Dunn to 1B and then trade away Kotchman for whatever you get.  This could also work with Raul Ibanez, but I just think Dunn fits here better. 

I still don't think they are a playoff team in that division but they are better when they started.  Peavy, Jurrjens and Campillo are all controlled until 2013 and Tommy Hanson for longer so it at least stabilizes the rotation.  If some of the young hitters can come up and start producing they could make a few playoff runs in front of the rotaiton.  The bigger problem is that most of the top offensive prospects were HS draft picks, which normally take longer to develop at the major league level.  Really didn't know what to do with the Braves, they are in a bad spot after those two awful Tex trades.  More just picked them next so I could bash them for it.  Not sure if I did the best job, but I'm pretty confident my plan is better than Frank Wren's......
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