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.  

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.