Relax Braves fans, this deal is not so bad

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Longtime reader ECP comments:  “C’mon now, Craig, it’s the Braves!  It’s your team; you are allowed to add some acerbic commentary!  How do you REALLY feel about this?”

I’ll be honest, I feel rather “meh” about it. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I’m excited about Melky freakin’ Cabrera, because I’m not. He’s a fine player, but his press has been outsized by the fact that he has played in New York. There are a lot of Melky Cabreras out there, and my team just traded a dude who got Cy Young votes for him.  But here are some random thoughts that make me feel generally fine about it:

  • The regression: Vazquez probably just put up his career year. He’s going to backslide a bit, and I think that even if the Yankees didn’t give up too much for him, they did buy high and will find that Vazquez is a good, but not great pitcher for them in 2010;
  • The comeback: By the same token, I don’t think Derek Lowe is done, and I could totally picture him having a bounceback season.  Sure, it may be a bit awkward for a week or two with all of that “sorry we were shopping you” and “sorry I was complaining about being shopped” talk, but they’ll get past it. Upshot: the Braves still have a very strong rotation for 2010.
  • The alternatives: The Braves could have done way, way worse to fill their outfield hole. Remember Garret Anderson last year? Remember the zombie incarnation of Brian Jordan in 2005-06?  At least Cabrera has functioning legs. And having him may allow Cox to slide Nate McLouth over to a corner, giving the Braves some decent outfield defense for the first time in a while.
  • The platoon: And maybe you don’t just hand Melky a job. Matt Diaz is still around. Diaz destroys lefties. Melky, a switch hitter, is better against righties in his career (though not profoundly so, and not last year).  Keep everyone fresh, let Diaz do what he does best. I could talk myself into this.
  • The money: the Braves just saved $10 million for 2010, which they could use to give to Adam LaRoche or some other option at first base. Or to make some other sort of deal. Maybe they trade for Uggla now. That’s certainly not my preference, but the point is that they now have flexibility to add some offense.
  • The prospect: I know nothing about him other than what I heard this morning, but Arodys Vizcaino is supposed to be pretty good. He struck out 52 in 42 innings in the New York-Penn League this year with a 2.13 ERA as an 18 year-old.  People are tweeting highly of him this morning, most notably Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner.

  • The competition. The Braves aren’t gunning for a division title against the Yankees. They’re in it against the Phillies and the Marlins and the Mets and Nats (sorry — I need a laugh this morning). Along those lines, Cameron tweets that the Braves got a better return for their ace than the Phillies did for Cliff Lee. I agree. I’ll also note that Vazquez was not the Braves’ ace. Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson have the best claim to that title going forward, and Tim Hudson may have something to say about it this year.


Would I have rather the Braves received Nick Swisher? Sure. But Nick Swisher is owed $16.5 million over the next couple of years, and the Braves have a habit of doing dumb things when they have guys with contracts like that.

This is not the best deal they could have made. But it’s not the worst, and with the promise of a prospect like Arodys Vizcaino and the chance that Vazquez takes a step back, it could turn out pretty nicely in the long run.  

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.