Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta



23
Dec
09

Braves give Troy Glaus one-year deal to play first base

Troy Glaus, shown here with the St. Louis Cardinals

The Atlanta Braves believe they have found their right-handed power hitting first baseman.

The Braves and free agent Troy Glaus reportedly have agreed to terms on an incentive laden, one-year deal.

The contract is believed to be worth a base salary of $2 million included with incentive clauses based on the number of games Glaus plays.

Glaus, 33, spent most of the 2009 season recovering from shoulder surgery and missed all but 14 games with the St. Louis Cardinals last year.

The four-time former All-Star underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder in January of 2009 but suffered setbacks in his recovery with the Cardinals and didn’t return to the club until September.

In an effort to show teams he is now healthy, Glaus underwent a physical in early December and made his records available to all major league clubs.

The deal is still pending a physical and probably won’t be announced until after Christmas.

The Braves believe Glaus is fully recovered and can handle the full-time first base duties for the team this season.

He will become Atlanta’s 11th different opening day starting first baseman in the past 12 years, replacing free agent 1B Adam LaRoche, who the Braves didn’t make an effort to re-sign.

Glaus is a former third baseman and has only played six games at first base in his career.

However, the Braves believe his large 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame and athletic ability will make him a more than suitable first baseman.

Glaus, a former American League home run leader, has 304 dingers in 12 seasons including at least five seasons with 30 or more homers and two with 40-plus bombs.

If he can stay healthy, Glaus will provide the Braves with the right-handed power their predominately left-handed line-up had lacked in 2009.

Glaus could provide third baseman Chipper Jones with much needed protection in the middle of Atlanta’s order and together they could prove to be an intimidating tandem for opposing pitchers to face.

The two of them have combined for 730 home runs and 2,324 RBIs in 27 major league seasons but both have been hampered with nagging injuries throughout their careers.

For his 12-year career, Glaus has posted a .856 on-base/slugging percentage while hitting 20 or more homers eight times, including in 2008 when he hit 27 HRs in his last full season with the Cardinals.

He began his career with the Angels where he was crowned the 2002 World Series MVP.

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22
Dec
09

Braves deal Vazquez to Yanks for Melky Cabrera

New Brave Melky Cabrera

The Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees agreed on a deal sending SP Javier Vazquez and left-handed reliever Boone Logan to NYY for OF Melky Cabrera, rookie left-hander Mike Dunn and right-handed pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino.

The Braves, who had an abundance of starting pitching, had hoped to retain Vazquez’s services and instead tried unsuccessfully for the past month to move veteran Derek Lowe.

But, in the end, they found no teams willing to take on Lowe’s hefty contract, which still had three years and $45 million remaining on the original four-year deal he signed with Atlanta last offseason.

The Yankees will pick up all of Vazquez’s $11.5 million salary for the 2010 season.

Vazquez, who will be eligible for free agency next winter, enjoyed a career year for Atlanta last season, going 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts in 219 1/3 innings pitched.

While Vazquez proved to be a valuable asset to Atlanta’s rotation last year, the Braves felt comfortable enough with their depth at starting pitching to make this move in an effort to improve other areas of their club while also receiving increased financial flexibility.

The Braves rotation stood atop the National League last season with a 3.52 ERA.

Vazquez also had a no-trade clause to West Division teams which limited the pool of suitors Atlanta could engage in trade talks with about the right-hander.

Throughout his career, Vazquez has struggled in the American League, often proving to be much more effective with National League clubs.

This will be Vazquez’s second stint with the Yankees.

It comes as somewhat of a surprise that the Bronx Bombers would pursue Vazquez again.

He spent the 2004 season in pinstripes but posted an unimpressive 4.91 ERA in 32 starts with the club and was dropped from the postseason rotation.

In Cabrera, the Braves added a bat to their line-up but not the power hitter many had expected them to acquire.

In 2009, the 25-year-old switch-hitter posted a .274 average with 13 HR and 68 RBI in 154 games for the Yankees.

Cabrera, who primarily played center field for New York last season, has the versatility to play all three outfield spots and possesses a strong arm and provides solid defense.

With Nate McLouth expected to start in center for Atlanta next year, Cabrera is likely to begin spring training in right field for the Braves, barring another move.

The highlight of the deal for Atlanta comes in prospect Arodys Vizcaino.

Vizcaino, 19, was recently rated by Baseball America as the #3 prospect in the Yankees organization.

Last season, Vizcaino went 2-4 with a 2.13 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 10 starts at short-season Class A Staten Island.

The third player coming over to Atlanta in the deal for Vazquez is left-handed rookie reliever Mike Dunn.

In four appearances with the Yankees last season, Dunn posted an inflated 6.75 ERA.

However, the 24-year-old lefty went 4-3 with a 3.31 ERA while racking up 99 strikeouts in 73 1-3 innings in the minor leagues in 2009.

He also had two saves in 38 appearances in AA and AAA last season.

This move appears to be a pre-cursor for other moves for Atlanta.

ESPN.com reports that the Braves have freed up approximately $9 million dollars with this trade after subtracting Vazquez’s $11.5 million and adding on the estimated $3 million Cabrera will receive in arbitration this year plus figuring in the $500,000 the Braves will receive from the Yankees once this transaction is complete.

With the money saved in this deal, the Braves look to continue their pursuit of a power-hitting outfielder, first baseman or perhaps both.

Johnny Damon and Jason Bay were linked to Atlanta recently but both still figure to cost more than Atlanta is willing to spend.

The Braves may still opt to pursue free agent Xavier Nady, who could play the outfield or first base, and should come cheaply as he is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.

Atlanta could also decide to make a trade involving an outfielder, maybe even the newly acquired Cabrera, for a better upgrade.

Dan Uggla remains a possibility for the Braves, who could shift him to first base, if needed.

10
Dec
09

Braves deal Soriano to Tampa Bay for Chavez

New Braves reliever Jesse Chavez

While it wasn’t the return the Braves had hoped for in exchange for parting ways with their hard-throwing set-up man/closer Rafael Soriano, GM Frank Wren struck a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays late Wednesday night.

Atlanta will receive right-handed reliever Jesse Chavez in return for Soriano.

Chavez was 1-4 with a 4.01 ERA in a team-high 73 appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Pittsburgh traded Chavez to Tampa Bay this November.

By offering Soriano arbitration, the Braves had hoped to receive a first-round draft pick as compensation for the right-hander.

However, Soriano’s decision to accept a non-guaranteed, one-year deal over testing the free agent waters in search of a more stable, long-term contract showed clubs were obviously reluctant to part with a high draft pick for Soriano’s services.

The Braves had already filled their set-up man and closer roles earlier this offseason with the signings of Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner.

Keeping Soriano was never an option for Atlanta as his projected $7 million salary next season would not have fit into the Braves’ budget plans.

A team with a sub-$100 million payroll can not afford to tie up approximately $20 million to its bullpen.

As a result, the Braves had little to no leverage in trade talks involving Soriano, and had made it known that they would be willing to accept a lesser return for monetary relief.

In the end, Atlanta accomplished its goal as reports have them not responsible for any of Soriano’s contract. This deal was strictly a player for player acquisition.

The completion of the Braves and Rays trade can now end initial speculation that the club would have had to pay a portion of Soriano’s salary to move him.

The trade will become official after both players pass physicals and the Rays are able to work out a contract with Soriano. That announcement could come as early as this afternoon.

FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal reports the Rays and Soriano are nearing the completion of a one-year deal in the neighborhood of $7 million.

Atlanta would have received nothing for Soriano if they hadn’t offered him arbitration so they have no regrets that they did.

Braves beat writer Mark Bowman reports that Chavez, 26, provides a decent return for the club and says some scouts are high on his abilities, believing the hard-throwing righty could be a serviceable addition to Atlanta’s bullpen.

His fastball has been clocked as high as 98 MPH and he also throws a slider and a change-up.

In contrast last season, lefties hit .227 against him with righties tagging him for a .320 average.

Chavez’s change is his go-to pitch against left-handers and it could be assumed that manager Bobby Cox will use him as a specialist–in those situations–next season.

09
Dec
09

More Winter Meetings chatter… The Braves try to wheel and deal

Free agent OF Xavier Nady

It didn’t take long for the Braves to receive permission from Rafael Soriano’s agent that his client would approve a trade.

Shortly after accepting the club’s offer of salary arbitration, Peter Greenberg informed the Braves that Soriano preferred to remain a late-innings reliever in 2010.

When told that those roles had already been filled by Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, Greenberg gave Wren a list of teams that Soriano had discussed signing with before deciding to accept the Braves’ arbitration offer.

The Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, and Orioles were believed to have shown interest in Soriano with the Angels emerging as a new suitor for the right-hander this morning, according to FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal’s twitter.

Atlanta has received a plethora of calls regarding Soriano and were believed to have met with at least five clubs on Tuesday about him.

Wren expects the Braves to move him soon — possibly before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday, or within the next week to ten days.

Besides fielding calls regarding Soriano, Wren also spent a great deal of Tuesday discussing possible destinations for RHP Derek Lowe.

While the team still feels confident they can move Lowe over Javier Vazquez, as they desire, they now have reason to believe that the outfielder and/or first baseman they are seeking will not come through the trade market.

More than likely, the trades of Soriano and/or Lowe will net the Braves a group of prospects.

Atlanta has been reportedly searching for more depth at shortstop as they believe their farm system lacks insurance possibilities at that position, in the event that Yunel Escobar goes down with an injury.

The level of prospects or return the Braves receive for Lowe will depend heavily on how much of his salary the club is willing to eat.

As for Wren’s continued search for offensive help, the Braves GM feels that his outfielder/first baseman is likely to come from the current pool of free agents.

The Braves and Xavier Nady have expressed mutual interest in bringing the free agent outfielder to Atlanta.

Wren had interest in acquiring the 31-year-old Nady in 2009 before he was traded to the Yankees. Nady’s health is also an issue as he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. The club will further evaluate his offseason progress to alleviate any lingering injury concerns they may have before signing him to a contract.

During the ’07 and ’08 seasons combined, Nady hit .293 with 45 home runs and posted an .840 OPS.

The Braves also announced Tuesday their decision to designate OF Ryan Church for assignment to make room for Soriano on their 40-man roster.

The club had received minimal trade interest in Church over the past week, but if not traded, Atlanta had planned to non-tender him by Saturday’s deadline.

Soriano’s decision to accept arbitration forced the Braves to make this move sooner than anticipated.

Church, who was acquired by the Braves in a July 10 trade involving beleaguered RF Jeff Francoeur, hit .260 with two HR and 18 RBIs in 44 games during his tenure with the club in 2009.

By designating him for assignment, the team now has 10 days to trade or release the oft injured Church.

The Braves also discussed adding utility player Ross Gload to their bench yesterday before Gload and the Phillies agreed to a two-year contract.

Scouting reports on Gload praised his strong defensive skills, which propelled the Braves’ interest, but his lack of power was worrisome to a team who is looking to add more pop to its lineup.

As the Braves look towards today, the last full day of meetings, they will continue to search for potential destinations for Soriano and/or Lowe.

The club’s beat writer Mark Bowman reported on his blog that Wren mentioned at least one team had interest in dealing for both pitchers.

Bowman believes the division rival Phillies or Mets could be the mystery team, but the chances of Wren dealing his impact players to his chief competition are slim to none.

The team’s thinking on Nady, if signed, is that he will serve mainly as Atlanta’s first baseman with the versatility to spot start in the outfield, if needed.

Martin Prado, the club’s projected opening day second baseman, could see time at first base when Nady is manning the outfield.

While super utility player Omar Infante could play almost any infield position, the team may look to add another middle infielder later in the offseason to increase depth in that area.

Bowman also speculates that with the Yankees closing in on a deal for OF Curtis Granderson, that they could make Nick Swisher available.

The Braves had interest in Swisher last season and the hard nosed outfielder would surely bring a great level of intensity and much needed spark to Atlanta’s offense.

Swisher, who could also play the outfield or first base, would provide the Braves with the same level of flexibility as Nady.

Former Brave Mark DeRosa could be a potential fall back option for Atlanta, but only if his price tag drops considerably.

Wren will continue to explore these options and more as he further assesses his club’s needs going forward.

02
Oct
09

Braves fall short in bid for playoffs…..

Tommy Hanson helped lead the Braves back into contentionThe Braves knew the odds were stacked against them in their quest to win the NL Wild Card … but, that didn’t stop them from making a valiant effort to overtake the Colorado Rockies and sneak into the playoffs.

Unfortunately, three straight losses (and four consecutive Colorado wins) with no margin for error ended their dramatic bid for the postseason.

Atlanta will now look towards 2010, but with a newfound sense of anticipation — and, hope.

Entering Tuesday night’s game against the Marlins, the Braves had won 15 of their previous 17 games and were trailing the Rockies by just two games in the Wild Card race.

The confidence the club gained in their attempt to chase down Colorado has team brass, players, and fans encouraged by the swift transformation from just a year ago when the Braves suffered a 90-loss season.

Credit the team’s quick turnaround in large part to their rebuilt and resurgent starting rotation.

The Braves are stocked with a young staff and two potential aces in Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson and with Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, and the option to bring back Tim Hudson at a reduced rate, the team has the luxury of entertaining offers for Javier Vazquez.

Vazquez, who is coming off a career year, is also under contract for next season but may be the team’s most attractive bargaining chip.

What the Braves choose to do with Vazquez will be the most hotly contested topic of the winter, as the club looks to acquire a power hitter to solve their offensive woes.

With an underwhelming free agent class of hitters available, the club may feel their best chance to land a power bat may come via the trade market.

However, while it can be argued that it may be in the Braves’ best interest to trade Vazquez when his stock is at its highest, the team may be better off by keeping their streaking right-hander, who has arguably been the club’s ace down the stretch this season.

Regardless of what Atlanta opts to do about their crowded but overtly talented rotation, one thing is certain — The forecast for the 2010 Braves remains bright.

In what will be manager Bobby Cox’s last season at the helm, the Braves feel they have the pieces in place to be a playoff team next year with the hope of sending their skipper off into the sunset on a high note.

As I watched the 2009 Braves scratch and claw their way back into the playoff hunt when they were a sub-.500 team back in June and a lofty 8 1/2 games back of the Wild Card lead just a few weeks ago, I find myself surprisingly content with the season’s end result.

For so many years, I was spoiled, as so many Braves fans were by watching a team that was consistently playoff bound.

But yet, I always felt in my gut that something was missing.

Still, it was hard to not get excited about another playoff appearance, but it was also hard not to admit (at least to one’s self) that precipitating feeling of doom.

It got to the point that I just knew the team was going to fall short.

It didn’t matter on the surface how promising the picture looked… the talent was there, every single year, but the heart wasn’t.

It’s not like the Braves didn’t want to win, it is just they had come to expect it.

But, no longer.

Three years removed from the playoffs, the 2009 Braves played loose with a chip on their shoulder and nothing to lose.

Sure, they fell short… but, their never-say-die attitude, the fire in their bellies, and the gumption that they showed in the face of adversity, were all things this team had lacked for so many years.

It’s those characteristics that breed a champion.

And, it is those very traits that made watching Braves baseball fun again.

Disappointment can be measured in many different ways.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping against all logic and reason that this team would pull off the impossible and win the Wild Card, but am I disappointed that they didn’t?

No, not in the least.

That is because this team showed to me and to the baseball world that they are relevant again.

They showed that they are a threat — hungry, talented, and fearless.

The Braves are back… and, it is seemingly only a matter of time before they re-claim their spot back on top.

19
Feb
09

UPDATE: Glavine, Braves near contract.

Glav making a start against the Phillies

Glav making a start against the Phillies

The Braves appear close to bringing veteran lefty Tom Glavine back to Atlanta. Glavine, who has expressed a desire to return to the Braves this off-season, was hoping the team’s feelings would be mutual.

It appears Glavine’s wish will be granted.

The Braves have revised their initial offer to the southpaw and have reportedly increased the incentive portion of their one-year contract proposal, which now could earn Glavine up to $4.5 million dollars this season if the hurler stays healthy. A good portion of the money in this contract will be deferred. While the offer still falls below what Glavine had requested, it seems the two sides are close enough and will come to an agreement.

The team could be making an announcement on Glavine’s signing very shortly.

The Braves expect Glavine to arrive in camp towards the end of the month and they plan to pencil him into the 5th spot of their revamped rotation.




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