Saturday, November 14, 2009

Assembling the Atlanta Braves' 2010 Roster

For those of you who follow me, you know that I've been taking a close look at the Braves' offseason options over the past few weeks.

I made one swooping prediction/suggestion about a month ago.

And looking back now...I hate it.

And in another month, I'll hate this one.

But it's all in good fun.

So, let's recap what I've done (remember, I'm playing GM) thus far.

I'll highlight, in italics, the money associated with each move.

Players Acquired: Jorge Cantu (3.5 MM), Juan Rivera (3.25 MM), Jason Bulger (~400 K), Brian Sanches (~400 K).

Players Departing: Kris Medlen, Cody Johnson, Brandon Hicks, Randall Delgado, James Parr, a MiLB pitcher of the Marlins choice (combined for a total MLB impact of ~400 K), Kenshin Kawakami (the Braves would be eating part of his salary, so about $4 MM departing), Adam LaRoche ($7 MM)

That's a difference of -3.85 for the MLB payroll.

That's what I've done so far, now, let's talk about what'll be happening elsewhere on the Braves' roster.

Keep in mind now: the Braves had a payroll of about $96.7 MM in '09, and a significant rise shouldn't be expected.

Let's start out with the arbitration-eligible players (these are a what I would do).

Matt Diaz-- This one's really a no-brainer. Matt Diaz was a major part of the Braves' second-half run in '09 and has always been a more-than-serviceable fourth outfielder. Even with Jason Heyward at or near Major-League readiness, Matt Diaz will be an important piece to the Braves' puzzle. Coming off of a .313 year in which he slugged 13 homers and stole 12 bags, I expect a rise in his $1.2 MM salary...I'm thinking $2.5 MM for '10 (a rise of $1.3 MM).

Kelly Johnson-- This decision is a little tougher. Kelly Johnson plays hard...but plays so inconsistently that he makes you want to puke. That trait cost him his job to Martin Prado and does not bode well for a role as a bench player. I think he'll be non-tendered (he's not a Type-A or -B, so there's not point in risking him taking the offer) and his $2.8 MM salary will be off the books.

Boone Logan-- With Eric O'Flaherty stepping up and having an outstanding campaign in '09, Logan was a forgotten man. His 5.19 ERA may look scary, but he was more than passable as a straight-up LOOGY (with a .231 average against him from lefties). In most situations, I'd let a guy like Boone walk, but he's only 25 and has a good (not great) left-handed arm. He only made the league minimum (~400K) this past season, and with only 20 games to go on, I don't see how he could get much of a raise (in other words, no noticeable difference, just a guy who could make an impact in '10)

Ryan Church-- Ryan Church played well after coming over from the Mets. But, injuries got him at the end of the year, and his numbers (.270-ish with single-digit homers) and defense are easily replaceable (Jordan Schafer, anyone?). He and his $2.8 MM salary should be hitting the road.

Peter Moylan-- Do I really need to explain this one? He'll be back. His '09 salary was the league minimum, and I expect no less than $2 MM coming his way in 2010 ($1.6 MM increase).

Rafael Soriano-- Despite his performance in '09 (which was very good), I think Soriano will be too hot of a commodity on the free agent market for the Braves to retain (as in they'll try to sign him but someone else will outbid them--100+ Ks in ~75 innings is going to be in high demand). I think the Braves offer him a small increase over his $6.5 MM from '09, he'll reject it, and the Braves will get two draft picks when some one signs him.

Mike Gonzalez-- Like his late-inning partner in crime above him, Mike Gonzalez was very good for the Braves in the '09 campaign. He made $3.4 MM for his services and will likely stick his foot in the free agency waters. I can see the Braves offering him about $5MM before he rejects and heads towards FA. However, I would be willing to enter a mini-bidding war with other teams and use the team's potential to leverage him into a 2 year, $6.8 MM per contract ($3.4 MM increase). Oh, and I would hope he accepts the offer of $5 MM to stay, I'm just saying I would be willing to go to $6.8 MM on the open market (and we'll use that to tally the dollars).

All of these moves means a net of: -$5.6 MM (and two draft picks)

Oh, and lest we forget Garret Anderson's $2.5 MM salary coming off books along with Greg Norton's 800K.

That's a total of $11.95 MM to work with on the open market (arbitration changes and trade additions included).

Not too bad.

Now, in my world as GM, this is what we're looking at for the start of the '09 campaign (a + indicates replacing a hole left by a departing player, a ++ means a $400 K salary for a departing player player's replacement, ? means "could be exchanged for another ?"):

C Brian McCann
1B Jorge Cantu +
2B Martin Prado
3B Chipper Jones
SS Yunel Escobar
LF Juan Rivera +
CF Nate McLouth
RF Matt Diaz

INF Omar Infante
OF Jordan Schafer ++
OF Jason Heyward? ++
PH Brooks Conrad ++

1 Tim Hudson
2 Javier Vazquez
3 Jair Jurrjens
4 Tommy Hanson
5 Derek Lowe

LRP Todd Redmond (exiting Medlen was the same)
RHP Jason Bulger
RHP Brian Sanches
LHP Eric O'Flaherty
LOOGY Boone Logan?
RHSU Peter Moylan
LHSU Mike Gonzalez
CL _____________

We've already established that Soriano will command quite a bit (my guess will be $10 MM-which some team will undoubetly offer him).

And the only viable option on the market is Jose Valverde (who will also cost a lot).

This one has me truly stumped.

Would you push harder to keep Soriano, or go hard after Valverde (or someone else).

You've seen the money the Braves have under my scenario, tell me what you think.

(Based on the results of this open-ended question, I will assemble my 2010 Atlanta Braves on a pretty little slide show--I really don't know what I should do)

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