As the 2007 regular season approaches, we look at a much improved Atlanta team. The pitching staff has had a major upgrade and the young offense will continue to improve with time. Durring the offseason we've had some notable acquisitions such as...
- RP Mike Gonzalez
RP Rafael Soriano
1B/OF/C Craig Wilson
UTL Chris Woodward
SP Mark Redman
- 1B Adam LaRoche
2B Marcus Giles
SP Horacio Ramirez
SP John Thomson
RP Chris Reitsma
C Todd Pratt
For this first post in this thread I will evaluate each loss. Then in my next post I will evaluate each acquisition, and in my following posts I will elaborate in detail position by position.
So without further adieu, here is m evaluation of our losses.
Easily our biggest loss. LaRoche had a breakout season last year and gave the Braves the most 1 man stability at first base since Andres Galarragga. It was the first year Bobby Cox decided not to platoon LaRoche on a regular basis, thanks to Brian Jordan's broken clavicle. He became the middle of the lineup force most had expected him to become and played his regular superb defense, but he was getting to expensive and needed to be let go for pitching help. This loss was a loss, but not a crucial one considering the Braves were one of the best hitting teams in the NL and have a capable Scott Thorman waiting in the wings. LaRoche will be remembered in Atlanta as a player who lacked hustle because of his demeanor and a player the Atlanata fans never really had a chance to bond with.
Hands down the best overall second baseman the Braves had over the 14 year run. Giles was an above average hitter and played gold glove defense for most of his tenure in Atlanta. He was also always a big clubhouse influence. His energetic play inspired the team behind him most of his time there. However, it seemed the energy slowed with the bat and glove for Giles in 2006. Not only was he injured for a substantial portion of the season, he was forced to move from his comfortable #2 slot in the batting order to lead off. A change he made evident he was not happy with. With his salary increasing, his talent decreasing, and the Braves unable to move him, the Braves were forced to non-tender him due to payroll restrictions. Giles will be remembered in Atlanta as a fan favorite and a hard player. With Giles, the greatest impact of his loss will be the energy he brought to the team. His overall play was declining so while this was a loss, with the amount of middle infielders the Braves have comming up, this was hardly a huge loss.
What the Braves got with Ramirez was a solid pitcher. A crafty lefty with a little bit giddy-up on his pitches but nothing to write home about. He was often injured and was a non-factor 2 of years in Atlanta, including last year. At the current point of his career, he was more valuable as trade bait than as a bottom of the rotation pitcher in Atlanta. His loss will not be much at all. He is talented, but the Braves have a substantial amount of quality suitors for the rotation.
He was basically Horacio Ramirez from the right side with a little less talent. He had one good year with the Braves, but spent the other two as a non-factor. Last year it was evident his talent was not where it once was and his body was failing him.This was why the braves let him leave to free agency. His loss like Ramirez, not great at all. He will be rembered a crafty country pitcher who got outs the old-fashioned way.
Now what happened with Chris Reitsma? His first year with Atlanta he was above average. You could the say the same thing about 2005, but that was when he started to crumble in the closer's role. Finally, last year he was given the closer's job, which he eventually blew. This once promising reliever found himself disabled and without a role. He contributed to an awful bullpen and his talent diminished so he became expendable. He was then non-tendered. He will be remembered as a moody ineffective reliever who Braves fans feared for all the wrong reasons.
He was a great clubhouse influence...and a servicible back-up catcher. His main impact will be with the clubhouse. Young Brayan Pena will fulfill his role well. Pratt left via free agency and is barely hanging on, thus he will hardly be a loss. He will be remembered as a veteran player and a hard-working one.
That concludes my first post. More to come.