For Braves fans, a simultaneously encouraging and discouraging fact

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Buster Olney linked to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story about the Braves’ improving financial picture. After doing so, he said this:

The bottom line is that the no team has a harder budget than the Braves, who are like cadets at a military school. They are given an allowance and cannot and do not spend beyond that, which means the improvements made by their team this season — the signing of Ben Sheets and the trades for Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and Paul Janish — are the product of great work by their baseball operations department.

Anyone who follows the Braves closely is well aware of this.  And it really, really stinks, especially if you were a fan back when Ted Turner owned the team and spent money and seemed to care about the baseball side of things as opposed to the bottom line. It just makes the speculative parts of the season — trade deadline, hot stove — totally boring.

But good point on Frank Wren’s moves this year. For the team to fill gaps like it did without spending money and without giving up top prospects, it’s hard not to be pleased with what they’ve done.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.