Oh, fabulous: the Braves get Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth

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Not content to acquire an awful player from the Royals at the deadline, the Braves got two!  Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth.  In exchange, the Braves give up reliever Jesse Chavez, outfielder Gregor Blanco and prospect Tim Collins, who just came over from the Blue Jays in the Yunel Escobar deal.

[composing myself]

Ankiel hasn’t been particularly useful for over two years and he’s been hurt most of this year. He has played a lot of centerfield but he’s not good enough to be a centerfielder anymore, if indeed he ever truly was.  He has some pop, but he doesn’t know how to get on base and hasn’t hit for average basically ever.  You’ll recall that his pitching career effectively ended when he went all Steve Blass on the Braves in the 2000 NLDS.  I guess Atlanta was forced to trade for him eventually on a “you broke it, you bought it” theory.

I called him terrible, but that’s not fair: Kyle Farnsworth has actually been good this year. A 2.42 ERA and he’s been walking far fewer battersand giving up fewer homers this year than he ever has. I won’t say he’s gotten smarter, but maybe he’s gained a certain kind of wisdom over the past year or so. Or maybe he’s just been lucky. It’s worth noting that this is his second stint with Atlanta, and his first stint — back in 2005 — was highly successful.

Chavez is a tomato can, so good riddance to him.  Blanco has been nothing more than a fill-in for Atlanta and never will be much more than that. He really doesn’t have any place in Kansas City either, unless of course the Royals are looking for new and exciting ways to block Alex Gordon.  Losing Tim Collins irks me. He is an utter monster strikeout machine and I think he could be pretty good as a major league reliever. He’s short, though, and apparently every general manager is obligated to discount the performances of short pitchers due to some blood oath.  I don’t get it.

Ultimately the Braves get an outfielder — which they needed — but not necessarily a good one (update: intellectual honesty compels me to admit that, yes, Ankiel is probably a better option than running Melky out there every night).  The interesting thing will be seeing whether the Braves still think Ankiel can play center (he can’t) or if they’ll play him in right and put Jason Heyward in center (better, but it scares me). 

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.