This is the second post I've done in a row whose headline ends with a question mark. Kinda goofy, eh? Especially since I've written about two posts in the past month.
Anyway, Ted Turner told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America -- who knew she was on Good Morning America? Who knew Good Morning America was still on TV? -- that he'd like to buy the Braves. Maybe he was kidding. I haven't seen the clip.
Three or four years ago, I would have greeted this like I would news the home team had traded for Jake Peavy and Albert Pujols. Now, I'm not so sure.
Yeah, it'd be a hell of a lot more fun having Ted sitting in the box seats every night. But the dude has proven in the past few years that he's loonier than ever. North Korea's not so bad? Sorry, Capt. Outrageous. Gonna have to disagree with you there, as Bill Lumberg said.
According to Bill Shanks' piece about this, Liberty has to hold onto the club until at least 2011. So this is probably just Ted muttering.
The Braves want Fukey back, says Ken Rosenthal.
That assumes the Peavy deal goes through, and contrary to our previous post, Rosenthal said it's not close to being finalized.
There will be plenty of competition for Furcal. The Dodgers want him back, and as many as 10 other teams are rumored to have interest. Fukey wants a four-year deal, which would be too much for a guy coming off back surgery.
Raffy, 31, was having a career-year last season before his injury. He looked spry after his return, and the Braves would fill two huge holes -- SS and lead-off -- by signing him.
Cbs Sportsline reports that the Peavy deal is close to done. If this guy, Scott Miller, is right, the home team would give up Yesco, Gorkys, probably Morton and either Boyer or Jeff Locke.
That would be no steal, but a good deal for the Bravos. Established aces like Peavy just done come along very often. And to get him without giving up Hanson or another of the organization's top pitching prospects, and for a very reasonable salary, would be an excellent way to start the offseason for Wren.
Yesco could be a star. So could Hernandez. Morton might be a good middle of the rotation starter. Boyer? I'm not sure why they'd want him over Locke. Apparently the Podrees want bullpen help now. In exchange for one of the top starters in baseball, you make that deal. No doubt.
That's how DOB described Tommy Hanson's outing Wednesday. The phenom struck out nine in five innings, allowing one run, one walk and three hits.
He’s now 4-0 in the AFL with an 0.76 ERA. In 23-2/3 innings pitched, Hanson's allowed only nine hits, two runs and five walks, striking out 39.
Meanwhile, Tyler Flowers hit another homer, and DOB says the Padres are trying to talk Frank Wren into substituting him for Gorkys. The Braves are reluctant, and should be. Power-hitting catchers are a rare breed.
The Nats GM just completed a deal the Braves should've made. Imagine trading the likes of Lillibridge, Brandon Jones and Jo-Jo Reyes for a 24-year-old southpaw who topped 200 innings in '08 and a right-handed hitting left fielder who averages 25 homers and 85 RBI a season?
Granted, Scott Olsen is a hothead, and Josh Willingham is recovering from a herniated disc, but I would've made this trade in a heartbeat.
Two former Braves are free agents: Fukey, injury-prone of late but electric in the postseason, and Edgar, coming off a subpar season in Detroit.
The demand for Fukey is high, and his price tag is estimated to be 30 mil for two years, a bit rich for the Braves. His skill atop the order would fill two needs.
Edgar would be much more affordable and is only a year removed from a .332 average. But you can't overlook his declining range. Edgar's only 33 but has 13 big league seasons under his belt. By most accounts he's starting to show his age.
Orlando Cabrera is a year older but a step faster. He won a Gold Glove in '07 while batting .301 with 86 RBI. He struggled a bit in Chicago last year, publicly questioned his teammates and, on a few occasions, the official scorer. As far as I know he had never been considered a malcontent before, and his play down the stretch for the '04 Red Sox was widely hailed. He can bat lead-off, though his OBP is below average. Cabrera's defense remains above par. I expect he'll get 3 years at 10 mil per.
Before you lobby for Omar Infante, consider that his career fielding percentage at short is .960, well below the league average. I have my doubts about his ability to play every day, though he made a pretty strong case last season. He's still only 27.
You can't underestimate Yesco's departure. Brent Lillibridge has seemingly turned into Pat Rockett, leaving Brandon Hicks as the only decent SS prospect in the Braves system. Hicks has intriguing power (582 career AB's, 40 doubles, 27 HR, 91 RBI) and good range.
The 2007 third-round draft pick is expected to start the 2009 season in Mississippi.
Kidding, of course. Hanson's AFL stats continue to wow: 18.2 IP, 6 HA, 4 BB, 30 K's. He may be the Braves' best pitching prospect since Steve Avery, though you could make a case for Kevin Millwood and Adam Wainwright.
Kris Medlin is also impressing in 'zona: 15 IP, 12 HA, 1 BB, 17 K's. In the 'pen, Stephen Marek has logged nine scoreless innings. At the plate, Ty Flowers continues to mash, with seven homers and a .352 batting average.
Mixed results in Mexico for Jordan Schafer. The good: .281 BA, .361 OBP, seven steals. The bad: 23 strikeouts (in 96 AB's) and a paltry .354 slugging percentage. The strikeouts worry me.
The Falcons are 6-3, the Hawks are undefeated and a black man was just elected president. What were the odds?
The Braves better be paying attention to the success of the city's other pro franchises (forget the Thrashers -- they may end up following the Flames out of town). Atlanta's a fickle sports market, and the Braves now appear to be the team least likely to contend.
That the local nine continued to draw decently through September surprised, but such loyalty is likely to be short-lived. Routines change, and a slow start next year could trigger Turner Field's lowest-ever attendance figures -- especially when you factor in the economic downturn. The team's season ticket pitch is depressing enough -- come see the Yankees and Red Sox!
I'm not suggesting Frank Wren acquire Peavy, no matter the cost, but the Braves need to create some excitement. They have the money. They have enough prospects to use in trades without sacrificing their core of young talent.
They better have a sense of urgency, lest they end up as irrelevant locally as the GOP is nationally.
Scott Miller says the Braves are pursuing Florida lefty Scott Olsen, who's arbitration eligible and thus unattractive to the Fish.
It's tough to get a read on Olsen, who, as I recall, has had a few run-ins with teammates and management. His rookie year was dazzling: 180 IP, 160 hits and 166 K's. He was awful in '07, finishing with a 5.81 ERA. Last year was a mixed bag. His strikeouts dipped for the second straight year, down to 111. But he topped 200 innings while improving his control.
Other pluses: he's a lefty, he's young (25 in January) and his upside is considerable.
The subject of Escboar came up yesterday morning between Peavy and his agent, Barry Axelrod. Less than 12 hours earlier, Axelrod had met with Kevin Towers, the Padres general manager, to get an update on trade talks that had taken place the previous three days at the GM meetings in Dana Point. “Escobar's a pretty good player,” Axelrod said yesterday afternoon. “To be honest, Jake and I have said, 'If that kind of trade gets made, who plays short for them?' ”
In Bill James' The Fielding Bible – a publication devoted to defensive analysis -- Yesco ranked second among all shortstops last season with a plus-minus score of plus-21.
Meanwhile, Scott Miller reports the Braves are willing to deal Gorkys for Peavy. The home team remains the favorite to land the ace right-hander.
According to Buster Olney (no link; registration required), "the Braves and Padres may well strike a deal built around shortstop Yunel Escobar, center fielder Jordan Schafer, pitcher Charlie Morton, and one more pitching prospect. The Padres are known to have interest in left-hander Jeff Locke, a 20-year-old who pitched in Class A last season."
Back in August I relayed an erroneous report that Ludwick would be a free agent. Turns out he's still three years away from the open market, so I'm not sure why the Cards would want to deal the 30-year-old outfielder.
I haven't seen him play enough to reach a conclusion, but I think Frank Wren should place special emphasis on upside (ex.: Snell, Ian) this offseason. At Ludwick's age, I don't know if "upside" is an apt description, but he could be the right player at the right price.
Or he could be another Jeffrey Hammonds, who snagged a rich deal from Milwaukee after one good year in Colorado, when he was 31. As a Brewer, the oft-injured former Orioles prospect totaled only 16 homers and 65 RBI in two-plus seasons, never hitting better than .257.
Ludwick's final 2008 numbers: .299, 37 HR, 113 RBI.
Towers still believes the Braves are his best match for a deal. Towers has spent a lot of time speaking to Braves special assistant Jim Fregosi about what they would deal. For the time being Atlanta is still unwilling to part with some of their top young talent, though it appears it would give up shortstop Yunel Escobar, who is coveted by San Diego.
I heard one of the Padres beat writers on XM say he expects Peavy to end up in Atlanta. San Diego's motive is financial, he said, and they're determined to move their ace.
Frank Wren seems to have a clear advantage, as the other teams Peavy said he'd be willing to play for don't have deep farm systems. I suspect we'll see some combination of Yesco, Schafer, Medlin and Morton for Peavy and Greene.
If Yesco is San Diego-bound, who bats lead-off next year? KJ is better suited to hit lower in the order, and Josh Anderson, if he wins the CF job, doesn't get on base enough.
Tracy Ringolsby says the Braves are interested in Willy Taveras.
Pass. He's Omar Moreno, with a little more upside.
A career .283 hitter, Taveras slumped to .251 last year, with a .308 OBP (career .331 OBP). He's missed 92 games over the last two seasons. A year ago, I might've been more willing; Taveras hit a career-best .320 in '07, with a gaudy .367 OBP.
Taveras stole 68 bases in '08, double his previous high. He's arbitration-eligible and is expected to make somewhere around $4 mil next season.
UPDATE: DOB says the Braves aren't interested in Taveras. Meanwhile, reports say Peavy might be amenable to the Bronx, though I'm not convinced.
The Sox are reportedly hot for a certain mercenary first baseman. *Tex and Just Disabled, on the same team? I might have to reconsider not attending next year's BoSox series at Fenway South. Could be fun, booing money-grubbing former Braves, tossing beer onto a Boston fan's head ...
Theo Epstein should give Detroit a call. I bet they'd be more than happy to send Shef Boston's way.
*Stephen Marek, the hard-throwing righty acquired from the Angels for Boras' bitch, has impressed in Arizona, tossing seven scoreless innings, walking none.
The Braves might want to hold onto Tyler Flowers. DOB reports the C/1B continues to terrorize AFL pitchers, hitting .419 with six homers in 12 games. Of his 18 hits, 12 have been for extra bases, including, inexplicably, two triples.
If the Braves do hold onto him, maybe Freddie Freeman, who checks in 25 points lighter than the Roswell native, could play left field, It's more likely Flowers will end up elsewhere. Slugging catchers are a rarity, and Flowers has turned himself into an attractive trading chip.
Speaking of prospects, the GM meetings commence this week with the Bravos trying to figure out a way to get Jake Peavy without giving up Tommy Hanson (13.2 IP, 0 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 19 strikeouts and 3 wins in 'zona).
If the Pads prove stubborn, look for Wren to make a play for Burnett, Lowe or Dempster.
And don't be surprised if he gives White Sox GM Ken Williams a call about Javier Vasquez, who's reportedly on the block.
Vasquez, who turns 33 in July, was awful down the stretch, a year after it looked like had finally acclimated to the American League. You'll recall Ozzie Guillen basically labeled him a choker.
No doubt Javy could use Bobby's calming influence. And I know the Braves hierarchy are fans of the Puerto Rican-born righty from his years in Montreal.
In 2003, his last year as an Expo, Vasquez struck out 241 in 230 innings, walking just 57 while compiling a 3.24 ERA.
He bombed in the Bronx, was okay in Arizona and erratic in Chicago. But his splits remain enticing, and he never gets hurt, averaging 218 innings per season.
Plus, his contract is reasonable: 2 years, $23 million. The Sox seek a middle infielder; Martin Prado and a mid-level prospect might get it done.
As for Magglio Ordonez, I gotta disagree with the esteemed Mr. Harcavey. Reportedly the Tigers are looking to clear some payroll, meaning they're motivated sellers. The Braves might be able to get the career .312 hitter for a Kris Medlin-type, with, say, Brandon Jones and Brent Lillibridge thrown in.
Keep an open mind about acquiring veterans. It's difficult, but the Braves -- with money to spend and a deep farm system -- are in a position to both rebuild and reinforce. If you can get players like Vasquez and Ordonez who are near the end of their contracts without dealing core prospects, why not do it?