All about the Braves and baseball events.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tazawa Rejects Braves' Offer; Close To Deal With Red Sox

I hoped that Tazawa would sign with Atlanta, but it is now evident that he will not be signing with the Braves. According to NBC Sports:

The 22-year-old right-hander contacted the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves on Friday to reject their offers, Kyodo News agency reported Friday.

Tazawa is expected to hold a news conference early next week to announce his decision. He reportedly received offers from the Rangers, Braves, Mariners and Red Sox.
Naturally, this means that the Braves will have to look elsewhere for future pitching options. However, that is the only bad thing about this. I hope that if Tazawa signs with the Red Sox that he has a long and fruitful MLB career.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wren's Waiting, Towers... - Everything went downhill in a hurry in San Diego

Sean McAdam's article talks about how much turmoil the Padres have incurred lately. Problems include owner John Moore's divorce, the team's unceremonious dumping of their Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman (let's face it, he's going to be elected into the Hall), and the inability of Towers to trade ace Jake Peavy:

To cut costs, Moores has ordered a slashing of the payroll. Hoffman, baseball's all-time saves leader and the face of the franchise, was angered when the Padres pulled back their $4 million offer for next year. He expects to finish his career elsewhere. Towers has been openly soliciting offers for Peavy.

The payroll, which was $73 million for the 2008 season, is likely to be sliced nearly in half for the 2009 season, forcing Towers' hand.

"It's kind of difficult to have one player eat up a quarter of your payroll," Towers said. "We lost 99 games with Jake, and we're not going to get better by keeping him and his salary."

Although talks with Atlanta and the Cubs have been on-again, off-again, the hope is that Towers can land three or four low-cost, high-ceiling players and begin the team's rebuilding. There's precedent: Before the 2006 season, he swapped pitchers Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka to Texas and got Young and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in return.

Talks are off right now, officially, but I have a strong suspicion that Towers will be the one going to Wren in order to get a deal done. Corey Brock writes about the problems as well on

The lack of progress in a deal involving pitcher Jake Peavy has had a significant effect on the Padres' ability to address their other roster needs this offseason.

And for a team coming off a 99-loss season in 2008, there are several areas that need to be filled, as general manager Kevin Towers wants to add starting pitching, relief pitching and shore up his bench for 2009.

But not knowing if the team can or will move Peavy and his $11 million contract for 2009 has all but left Towers in a standby mode until the future of the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner is decided.

"That's pretty much it," Towers said. "It's certainly a large sum of money we would be moving. Once that's decided, we will have a better idea of what holes we would be plugging."

If the Padres decide not to move Peavy in a deal -- Towers said late last week no deal is imminent -- then the 27-year-old will be the highest-paid player on a team that is looking at a dramatically-reduced payroll in 2009.

To date, the Padres and Braves have had extensive talks, but Atlanta GM Frank Wren indicated a week ago that the Braves were moving on. Still, Towers said the two sides had agreed upon at least part of the compensation package, and that he wouldn't rule out future talks with the Braves.

While the Padres haven't publicly committed to an official payroll total for 2009, it's expected to be in the range of $50 million, perhaps lower. The payroll in 2008 was $73.6 million.

Towers has said that he wants some starting pitching in return for Peavy, and he certainly would not turn his back on Major League-ready relief help to assist a bullpen that struggled mightily in 2008 and will likely be without closer Trevor Hoffman, who is a free agent and is not expected to return.

"It's more pitching than position players," Towers said of what he would be looking for in the event the Padres get permission to trade Peavy, who has a no-trade clause.

If we take all of this at face value, it seems as if Towers still wants Escobar and some of the Braves' pitching, like Charlie Morton, Jo-Jo Reyes and Jeff Locke. I think it's all a matter of him going back to Wren, because he needs to move Peavy and he seems very reluctant to take the Cubs' inferior package of Pie, Marshall and others because Chicago doesn't want to trade pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

As for Peavy having to approve any trade, I still question his concerns about playing in Atlanta. I've touched on that before, but I'll say it again: Why in the world was he acting like the Braves would never get past the Phillies and Mets while he pitches for them? Why in the world was he acting like the only thing the Braves would do is trade for him?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Braves Take Another Mariner Thrown Overboard

The Atlanta Braves claimed left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners yesterday and placed him on the 40-man roster. This means that he isn't exposed to the Rule V Draft.

O'Flaherty had his best season in 2007, when he pitched 52 1/3 innings and allowed 45 hits. He allowed just one hoome run and walked 20 batters. He struck out 36. He had an awful time last season, with a 20.25 ERA in 6 2/3 innings. He battled back problems last season, however.

Even though I view the back problem as a huge red flag, O'Flaherty performed superbly against left-handers a season ago, holding them to just a .182 average (.221 BABIP). Eric could very well make the squad and be a new LOOGY for the Braves. However, if he is used like Royce Ring was last year, I fear for O'Flaherty's production.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No Peavy, At Least Not Yet

Braves GM Frank Wren said that he has ended trade talks with San Diego about Jake Peavy.

It's just as well.

The trade talks had gotten to the point where the Braves were offering a package of shortstop Yunel Escobar, minor league outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, either Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Ryees, and minor-league pitcher Jeff Locke. Still, the rumors that said Peavy would reject any trade to Atlanta if Yunel Escobar was included and the Cubs offering a package centered around outfielder Felix Pie and pitcher Sean Marshall persisted.

It's pretty clear out of all the information available that the Braves offered the best package for Peavy. I can only speculate that Padres GM Kevin Towers was trying to force the issue and make Wren cave and give up either one of two prized prospects: pitcher Tommy Hanson and catcher Tyler Flowers.

Instead of pursuing Peavy (at least for now), Wren is going to try to sign a free agent pitcher, most likely either A. J. Burnett or Ryan Dempster.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Braves May Be Looking Across The Pacific For Pitching

Mark Bowman, the Braves beat writer for (known at Braves Journal as "Peanut" because all he does is parrot the Braves' front office) writes that "[the] Braves are believed to have offered a Major League contract to Junichi Tazawa, a 22-year-old Japanese right-hander who is also drawing interest from a number of other big league teams".

According to the BR Bullpen wiki entry on him, Tazawa pitched for the Nippon Oil team in 2008 and helped them win their first industrial league title in 13 years. He has a fastball (which tops out in the mid-90s), a curveball, slider, changeup and a forkball.

Here is a vclip posted on YouTube of Tazawa pitching for Nippon Oil (the ENEOS on his uniform is their brand name) against JR Shikoku, or Shikoku Railway Company. I can safely say I have never seen anyone with the kind of delivery that he has, and I don't know whether that is a good or bad thing. Tazawa throws with speeds from the mid-70s to the low-90s. He seems to live on control, as evidenced by this clip. That is what the Braves covet. An article says one official even described him as similar to Tim Hudson but "with a better curveball".

However, It's unlikely that Tazawa is going to be in the majors immediately. He'll be treated like a first-round draft pick and be placed on the 40-man roster because he's signed to a major league deal. If the Braves are smart, and I think they are, they'll have Tazawa be in the minors for a year or two to see if he can really cut the mustard.

I would just absolutely love it if the Braves sign Tazawa and he pans out. It would go a long way to helping the team compete in the future.