Is This The Calm Before The Storm?

The Braves front office has been very tight lipped about what they’ve been up to. Frank Wren is clearly not willing to make any promises that he’s not going to be able to follow through with. That just seems to be his nature as he has already stated that it’s unlike the Braves will make any “major” moves. I’m not sure what Wren would consider to be a major or block buster move but something has to give here.

The Braves were able to unload Derek Lowe much quicker then I anticipated. I had this fear going into the off season that we wouldn’t be able to move a 38 year old pitcher who couldn’t get anyone out just this past season. However as fate would have it, the Indians jumped into the mix and wanted Lowe to fill out the back end of their young rotation. As the saying goes “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Not to add salt to the wound for Derek Lowe or mock him in anyway but he would serve no purpose for the Atlanta Braves. We’ve been there and done that, now it’s time to see what he can do in Cleveland. Perhaps a change of scenery is what he needs. None the less we saved 5 million dollars by completing the deal and unloaded the worst pitcher on the team, talk about killing two birds with one stone.

Wren has also discussed a modest increase in payroll for this season, nothing extreme but maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of several million dollars. Nothing fancy but hey when it comes to payroll I’d rather see it go up then down. On top of all of this Jurrjens and Prado are now on the trade block and I believe that Wren will pull the trigger on either one of those guys if the right offer comes across his desk.

What is going on in Frank Wren’s mind right now? What could he be plotting? Rumors of the Braves being interested in Jimmy Rollins have started to pick up a little bit of steam as of late. The Braves have a need at short stop and what better way to fill it then stick the Phillies short stop right in there? There are of course a few things that would need to be cleared up before this could even be a possibility. Rollins would have to agree to a contract that was 3 years or so. He will be 33 before the start of next season and we don’t need to be giving a short stop at that age a long contract. He will certainly want a fair share of money but he may possibly be willing to take a little bit less to go to a contender.

Yes, Rollins would be a great fit for Atlanta. He could hit in the 2 hole right behind Michael Bourn and give us a dynamic top of the order. Two guys who can get on base and steal bases. Rollins also has a fair amount of pop and some decent gap to gap power as well. His fielding is still top notch and he knows how to win. Could this be a move being set up by Frank Wren? Crazier things have happened.

If we were to obtain Rollins then we would still have a big whole in left field. The Braves outfielders were terrible offensively last year, no one can deny that. So naturally that’s where we want to go in free agency or the trade market. However lets consider this. Bourn played well for Atlanta and having his speed and energy at the top of the order for a full season should make a big difference. He will be comfortable with his surroundings and can go right to work. It’s never easy being dumped into a new environment half way through the season. I’m expecting big things from Michael Bourn in 2012. The other thing to keep in mind is that Jason Heyward SHOULD be a lot better then last season. They are making him a primary focus this off season and hopefully the new hitting coach will get him back into form. Personally I think Heyward’s struggles stemmed from laziness and the inability to make adjustments. He’s not a rookie anymore and pitchers at the major league level have figured him out. If he makes the proper adjustments and he can hit 20-25 home runs and drive in over 70 runs then he will be a very strong 6 or 7 hole hitter for us.

Scoring runs starts with the top of the order. If you have Bourn and Rollins up there as table setters then you will see guys like Uggla and McCann drive in a lot more runs.

Now left field is still an issue. However if Bourn, Heyward, Uggla, Freeman, Rollins, Chipper and McCann are all playing up to their potential then I think you can afford to put a mediocre player in left field. We’re not the New York Yankees thus putting an All-Star at every position is not an option. But if those other 7 guys are producing the way that they should produce then this is going to be a VERY dangerous team.

Trading Prado does mean losing a quality utility man as well as a potential starter. Prado has shown he can play 1B, 2B, 3B and LF without any problem. When your playing the National League you need guys who can cover all parts of the diamond. So losing him would hurt our depth, however if he’s going to want somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million dollars then we can most likely find a utility guy for maybe 1-2 million thus saving us some cash.

I think Rollins might be the guy the Braves are looking for. Think about this. When was the Braves offense scoring the most runs? It was when we had Bourn and Constanza in the lineup together. 2 spark plugs in the order just caused havoc for opposing teams.

Add Rollins to the mix. Straighten out Heywards swing and rebuild his confidence. Get a full productive season from Uggla.

Every year the Braves need to “improve” the offense. I’m almost tired of hearing it. Frank Wren added Uggla and added Bourn. What more do you want this guy to do? I do think we are missing a piece and I think it might be Jimmy Rollins.

Call me crazy all you want but I think that the combination of getting a good player at a weak position with stealing a good player from a RIVAL team might be enough to push Frank Wren over the edge. This is a chance for the Braves to make a statement.

By: Bob McVinua

 

 

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