Joe Sheehan at the Baseball Prospectus made an excellent point regarding the Braves' failure to acquire a good left fielder: the team's smart purchases in free agency (which have to be attributed in large part to the lucky breaks that A.J. Burnett and Rafael Furcal elected to spurn the chance to play in Atlanta) have put it on the precipice of being a playoff team, so additional spending on a left fielder could have paid for itself by getting the team back into the playoffs. Here is the two-sentence thesis:
I don't mean to peg the Braves as penurious overall, just to point out that they stopped spending money at exactly the point where they might have gotten the most bang for their buck. Buying a left fielder like [Adam] Dunn would have helped make the significant investments in the rotation — more than a third of the payroll is tied up in the three new starters — pay off.
Sheehan suggests that the team would benefit from Josh Anderson in center and Gregor Blanco in left to maximize on outfield defense. Personally, I can't imagine that outfield defense could be so valuable as to make up for the holes in the lineup that those two would represent, especially when the Braves are already getting relatively little from first base and right field.