Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Was Raul Mondesi not Available?

Say hello to the Braves' new left fielder: Garret Anderson. Garret enjoys candle-lit dinners, long walks on the beach, and never taking a walk. Now, instead of having one outfielder who swings at everything, the Braves have two. Moreover, because Anderson is a wily veteran, he will almost certainly find his way into Bobby Cox's heart and will be impossible to remove from the lineup, regardless of whether he represents an upgrade over Brandon Jones. Anderson has been marginally below league average in terms of OPS in three of the past four seasons, all while playing a power position. Sure, you don't exactly expect huge numbers for $2M per season, but what are the Braves going to get for that money that they couldn't have gotten from the pupu platter of minor leaguers competing for at-bats in the outfield? I suppose that Anderson putting up a .775 OPS in 450 at-bats against right-handed pitchers wouldn't be the end of the world. If you buy into chemistry as being important, he'd probably be a good guy to have around a bunch of young players.

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.


peacedog said...

I root for him and he has an intriguing toolset, but Jones might be at best an AAAA OF. If the Braves sense this, the Anderson move is understandable. Of course, they may be hedging bets.

Anonymous said...

Is AAAA the same as MLB?

peacedog said...

No, Anon. It's a shorthand for saying "the kid is successful at AAA but doesn't have what it takes to make it to the next level". Brad Woodall was an example of a braves pitcher labeled AAAA (die hard fans will remember his debut where he gave up 4 solo home runs but otherwise pitched well and there was hope he'd be a long term fixture, being a big prospect at the time. Didn't pan out).

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

How can one enjoy long walks on the beach AND not taking walks??

All in all, Anderson is an upgrade from the minor league pu-pu platter, as at least you know you are going to get major league production from the LF spot. That isn't a lock with the platter, as we saw last year.

With CF already manned by one of those AAAA-esque players, Wren had to grab a major league vet to plug in LF. I don't doubt he would rather have had Dunn, but given the price range he was working with, I think Anderson is a better choice than Griffey.