Outlook

This season hasn’t exactly gone the way most Atlanta Braves fans have wanted but it is long from over. Atlanta has greatly underachieved and yet are just 5.0 games back of the Wild Card leading Colorado Rockies and 7.0 back of the National League East Philadelphia Phillies. 

Despite the early struggles Atlanta is far from done. Something I have noticed is that General Manager Frank Wren has been receiving a lot of criticism from fans for his “idiotic” moves. Let’s take a look and see how “idiotic” they really are.

The first move I would like to point out is the trade for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan. Atlanta acquired the pair from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Tyler Flowers and Brent Lillibridge. So far this year Javier Vazquez is 8-7 with a 3.01 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 140.1 innings pitched. Vazquez is tied for 3rd in the Major Leagues in WHIP (1.05) and has the 3rd best K/9 (10.13). In other words Vazquez has been spectacular this season. Logan on the other hand has been mediocre with a 4.50 ERA in 10.0 innings pitched.

Javier VazquezLet’s look at what Chicago got. Tyler Flowers, was the starting catcher for the U.S. Futures team. Great, right? Oh wait that Brian McCann guy is blocking his way to the majors. Brent Lillibridge is currently sporting a fantastic .162 BA in 26 games for the White Sox this year. The bottom line is Frank Wren robbed the White Sox. That trade was not in anyway fair.

Wren has received some flack for the signing of Derek Lowe. Lowe is signed for four years and is making $15MM this year. Not a great contract but Lowe brings the post season experience Atlanta could use. Lowe just happens to be the only pitcher in Major League history to be the winning pitcher in the deciding game of the Divisional Series, Championship Series and World Series in one post season. That’s experience for you. Lowe is also very durable so the 4th year on the contract does not seem so bad. Lowe has pitched in no fewer than 180 innings in the last 7 years. Had Wren not offered the 4th year on the contract there is no way Lowe would have chosen Atlanta.

John SmoltzFans were livid when John Smoltz was allowed to sign with the Boston Red Sox and when Tom Glavine was released.

That is just terrible because Smoltz’s 2-4 record and 7.12 ERA looks so great. As for Tom Glavine, his fastball was topping out in the low 80’s. Really? Atlanta wants to win, not give out pity contracts.

A controversial signing was that of Japanese veteran Kenshin Kawakami. So far he is just 5-8 with a 4.37 ERA. One should also know that the ball is smaller in Japan so it can take some time for Kawakami to adjust. For comparison Daisuke Matsuzaka was 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA in his first season with the Red Sox. The next season he was 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. I’m not saying this will be the same with Kawakami but don’t condemn him yet.

Next we have the Nate McLouth trade that in the thoughts of has decimated Atlanta’s farm system. Atlanta gave up Charlie Morton, who has pitched well (2-3, 3.60 ERA), Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke. In Hernandez’s 53 games for AA Altoona he is hitting a sparkling .239 BA with 5 stolen bases in 10 attempts. Stealing bases is what he does so that’s not looking so great. Not to mention Hernandez and McLouth play the same position so he could have potentially been blocked. In Locke’s 10 games with Advanced A Lynchburg he has a 1-4 record with a 5.31 ERA. Again, Frank Wren robbed a team.

Recently Wren traded Casey Kotchman for Adam LaRoche and cash. This deal was obviously made in an attempt to give the power starved Braves lineup an added boost. Kotchman has hit just 6 home runs this season while LaRoche has 13. Kotchman’s batting average is 30 points higher but he has no where near the power of LaRoche. LaRoche also traditionally gets hot in the second half.

Adam LaRocheAnother complaint is Kotchman’s amazing defense as he has yet to make an error. LaRoche has made just 1 this season while having 61 more total chances. LaRoche also sports a better range factor (9.94) over Kotchman (9.41). Is Kotchman’s defense really that much better? I don’t think so.

The bottom line is Wren has robbed 2 teams on the trade market and really made one signing that hasn’t helped Atlanta (Kawakami). That signing also hasn’t really hurt them either.

Frank Wren has done an above average job whether Braves fans want to admit it or not. He is just so easy to blame for Atlanta’s problems. 

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14 comments

  1. tomatalk

    Agreed. Frank Wren hasn’t made “all the right moves,” but he’s been better than a lot of folks have given him credit for. If his name was Schuerholz, folks would be applauding the Vazquez move much more than they are as “another discerning move by someone who knows the value of veteran players.” Wren has had to deal with the end of the Braves-dynasty, which many won’t let go of and will find any reason to blame him for any loss. This team’s in a better position than it was in the final couple of years of the Schuerholz-era, though it may take a few more years for others to realize that.
    http://tomatalk.mlblogs.com/[new “fluff” piece up on Skip caray].

  2. juliasrants

    The John Smoltz experiment is fast becoming over for Red Sox fans. I think many of us – myself included – would like to see him coming out of the bullpen as a reliever. He has his innings of brilliance – he just can’t seem to string them together.

    Julia
    http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

  3. PWHjort

    Wren’s done a good job. One sleeper I like is Boone Logan. Young, cheap reliever with a good live arm from the left side, what’s not to like? Could end up being the one the White Sox regret parting with. Of course it’s equally likely he doesn’t pan out and amounts to nothing, but it’s still a good move (Vazquez has been incredible this season). I don’t like the D-Lowe contract. Don’t mind the Kawakami contract, it’s basically market value. Not a bargain, not a vast overpayment. LOVE the McLouth trade. LOVE the Church-Francoeur swap. The Renteria trade? Best of his tenure. He’s done a lot of really good work.

  4. Fenway Bleacher Creature

    This is some great analysis, it helps me understand a lot more about your team, one that I don’t know much about.
    Thanks for the good info and proof.

    -http://the3rs.mlblogs.com/

  5. thefanofbaseball

    hey i still didnt get an e-mail from mlbcenter could you please contact them and maybe tell them i know kevin gehl ( he works there )

  6. junojen

    Hi —
    I am also done with the John Smoltz Experiment. Not sure if he can even handle coming out of the bullpen. I think he probably should have retired last year, with the Braves, after his surgery.

    I am also not sure about the LaRoche for Kotchman deal. We seem a little overstaffed at 1B. But who knows…

    I guess only time will tell, huh?

    If the Red Sox slide continues, I will be wearing my Steeler gear pretty soon. ha ha!

    Jen
    http://faithful.mlblogs.com

  7. redsoxmelissa

    Yah, the Braves losing Smoltz wasn’t a bad thing. The Red Sox team hasn’t gotten much out of him this season. And now he’s leaving our team- (designated for assignment) he doesn’t want to play for the Red Sox minors so now he’s either going to be traded or released. The 5.5 million dollars we’re paying him isn’t getting us anywhere.

    I wrote an article on the John Smoltz “mistake”, if you want to read it, check out my blog.

    Since your a Braves fan, do you think John Smoltz declined the Braves contract offer because he was greedy? Is that why he took the 5.5 million dollar contract with the Red Sox. It would be great to hear your opinion.

    –Melissa
    http://redsox46.mlblogs.com/

  8. TribeTed

    Thanks for commenting, I appreciate you checking out Tribe Talk with Ted, I recently put up a new post so if you wanna check it out come on down. 🙂 The Braves have caught up to the Phils’ over the past week and a half. They could catch them down the stretch.
    http://tribewithted.mlblogs.com/

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