Sunday, October 11, 2009

Another Angel in the Outfield: Making the Case for Juan Rivera in Atlanta

We all know what the Braves will be after this offseason (for those of you who don't, it's a right-handed power threat to stick between Brian McCann and Chipper Jones).

Right now, it's wide open as to who they'll go after.

So, let's compare two players.

One of these names, Player A, has been moving around the Braves' Blogosphere at the speed of light.

The other, Player B...not a peep.

I will use AGE (in 2010)/G/AVG/OBP/SLG/HR/2B/3B/SB/BB:K to compare them.

Player A 29/128/.260/.332/.524/33/21/1/20/49:118

Player B 31/138/.287/.332/.478/25/24/1/0/36:57

Who do you take?

Player A is going to give you more power, but Player B is going to make fewer outs.

OK, now take this into consideration: Player A plays the majority of his games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington while Player B does most of his work at Angel Stadium.

What about now?

I don't know about you, but I think I take Player B.

And now, if you haven't already figured out who they are, Player A is Nelson Cruz, and Player B is the man I referenced in my title, Juan Rivera.

Now, I understand that the "getability" of Rivera may be less than that of Cruz, but the Angel's one weakness at the start of this season was the readiness of their Minor League pitching prospects.

Add to that John Lackey's pending free agency (and likely departure), I think it's safe to assume that they'll be on the hunt for both Major League-ready pitching and Minor Leaguers to re-stock whatever they'll be losing to their big club.

With that in mind, here's a deal that could net the Braves Juan Rivera:

Angels Get: Kenshin Kawakami, Kris Medlen, Cody Johnson, Randall Delgado
Braves Get: Juan Rivera, Jason Bulger

This deal gives the Braves what they need: a good power bat (with a good track record for success) locked up at a reasonable contract-2/9 left on his current deal and the replacement for Moylan when he transitions to closer (my gut now says they they'll let Gonzo walk if he declines arbitration and they'll flat let Soriano go).

Rivera, especially with a transition to the NL, should be a lock for 25 homers, and 31-year-old Lawrenceville, Georgia native Jason Bulger should only improve on his numbers from this year (3.65 ERA/65.2INN/68Ks) with the same transition.

The Angels get a descent starter until some more of their youngsters are ready, a younger replacement for Bulger, a DH-in-the-making, and a very good pitching prospect to fill their previously mentioned voids.

The biggest complication I could see blocking this deal would be Bobby Abreu.

Right now, Rivera is pretty much a lock in left field for the Angels.

If the team fails to bring back Abreu, then his position would be solidified even further since their best OF prospect, Peter Bourjos, is still likely another season or two away.

However, if Abreu comes back to man right again next season, they may be willing to give one of their fringe outfielders more time OR may be willing to let go of Rivera for one of the more attractive free agents.

The Braves would be giving up a pretty significant chunk of their minor league stable, but would still be retaining their core of Heyward, Freeman, Hanson, Tehran, etc.

If the Braves ARE serious about contending in 2010, this deal makes a lot of sense.

As I will say in all of these posts (for the blog)/articles (for B/R), I have no insider information whatsoever.

Everything I say stems from personal analysis of rosters, rankings, etc., and my conclusions are based off of this analysis.

If you disagree or feel that one side or another is getting too much, let me know.

I'll consider all suggestions that I deem logical.

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