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.  

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.