Matt Diaz has been added to the non-tender pile, as the Braves cut the 33-year-old outfielder loose after five seasons in Atlanta.
Diaz has alternated good years and bad years for the Braves, and when his batting average slumps like it did this season his modest pop, swing-at-everything approach, and poor defense make him a liability.
However, he’s a career .301 hitter with an .806 OPS and if spotted primarily against left-handed pitching as a platoon corner outfielder he would be a very nice pickup for quite a few teams.
Diaz has hit .335 with a .907 OPS versus lefties, compared to .269 with a .710 OPS versus righties, so if paired with a left-handed-hitting platoon-mate and plugged into the lineup against southpaws he can provide about one-third of an All-Star caliber performance.
Plus, he also brings some value to the table as a crazy fan wrangler.
Eric Hinske was hoping to land a two-year deal after playing for six different teams during the past five seasons, but instead Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that he’s deciding between one-year offers from the Braves and Brewers.
Hinske fared well as a part-time player for the Braves this season, hitting .256/.338/.456 with 11 homers in 320 plate appearances while earning $1 million, and Bowman notes that “Atlanta’s offer is believed to be worth $1.5 million.”
No word yet on what Milwaukee is willing to pay, but the Brewers also view Hinske as a part-time player and he’s from Appleton, Wisconsin.
Craig noted yesterday that the Brewers are interested in Eric Hinske and now Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that they’ve officially made the veteran role player an offer.
“It’s his call, not ours,” general manager Doug Melvin told Haudricourt. “We’re waiting to hear back from him.”
Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reported previously that the Braves offered Hinske a one-year, $1.5 million deal to re-sign and Melvin hinted that he believes the choice is down to Atlanta or Milwaukee.
Hinske would be a part-time player in both places, but signing with the Brewers would put his playoff-making streak in jeopardy.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Martin Prado had no problem with the Braves’ request that he move to left field following the trade for Dan Uggla.
General manager Frank Wren talked to Prado after making the trade and quoted the All-Star infielder as saying: “I just want to be a part of this team. I want to contribute. I don’t care where I play.”
Prado deserves credit for taking that stance when many other players have scoffed at position switches, but it’s unclear if keeping Uggla at second base and moving Prado to left field makes sense for the Braves in the first place.
Uggla is universally regarded as a poor defensive second baseman whether you trust your eyes, error totals, mainstream perceptions, or advanced defensive metrics. Prado doesn’t fare exceptionally well in advanced defensive metrics either, but he rates better than Uggla and is generally perceived as clearly above average at second base. So why not use Prado at second base and move Uggla to left field?
On paper that seems like a relative no-brainer that would make the Braves’ defense better, but there are a few other factors at play. For one thing Prado has quite a bit more experience as an outfielder, albeit mostly in winter ball. Beyond that it’s possible Uggla would balk at being asked to switch positions one season away from free agency, as his market value as a left fielder could be quite a bit different than as a second baseman.
And last but not least the Braves are planning for 2011 with the idea that they may need to account for Chipper Jones being out of the lineup for long stretches. Prado would be the fill-in for Jones at third base and it’s likely easier to move him back to the infield and plug in another outfielder than it would be to have Uggla shifting back and forth.
Uggla at second base and Prado in left field probably makes the Braves’ defense worse, but deciding where to play them isn’t quite that simple.
Beau Torbert spent four seasons playing in Houston’s farm system after the Astros made him their 17th-round pick in 2004, but the 6-foot-4 outfielder hit just .250 with one homer and a .642 OPS in 93 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2007 and was cut.
Since then he’s been playing for the independent league Sioux Falls Pheasants of the American Association, where Torbert won back-to-back MVP awards. This season he earned Baseball America‘s independent league player of the year honors by hitting .394 with 24 homers and 100 RBIs in 95 games.
And now the Braves have signed the 27-year-old Torbert to a minor-league contract with plans to send him to Double-A or Triple-A in 2011.
“He’s put up good numbers in the independent leagues,” general manager Frank Wren told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “The numbers have improved each of the past three years. When you look at those kind of players that continue to improve and put up numbers, I think it’s worth taking a look.”