This is the one in a series of posts that will call out all 30 teams for their wily offseason moves and tragic offseason blunders.

Last season, for the first time in 15 years, the Braves didn’t win the NL East. So this season, we should expect major changes, right?


Last year’s team played without a dependable closer for much of the summer. Then they traded for Indians vet Bob Wickman down the stretch. Wickman was good, but he wasn’t enough to get the team into the playoffs.

This year, the Braves’ bullpen will be better. On Wednesday they traded 1B Adam LaRoche for Pittsburgh closer Mike Gonzalez. And earlier this winter they swapped SP Horacio Ramirez for Seattle setup man Rafael Soriano. Here’s a look at what Gonzalez, Soriano and Wickman did last year:

Mike Gonzalez 2.17 ERA, 54 G, 24 S, 3-4, 64 K, 31 BB

Rafael Soriano 2.25 ERA, 53 G, 2 S, 1-2, 65 K, 21 BB

Bob Wickman 2.67 ERA, 57 G, 33 S, 1-6, 42 K, 13 BB

Noo too shabby, eh?

Unfortunately, the Braves have done little to address their other shortcomings, namely starting pitching and offense. Last year’s paper thin rotation was anchored by the ageless John Smoltz. After Smoltz, there was the oh so disappointing Tim Hudson, Horacio Ramirez, John Thompson, Chuck James and Kyle Davies. This year, Smoltz, Hudson, James and Davies remain, but Ramirez was dealt to Seattle and Thompson left via free agency. If the Braves are to have any chance this season, James will have to continue his strong late-season showing, Davies will need to finally realize his potential and Mike Hampton will need to bounce back strong from his latest major surgery.

The Braves offense looks worse on paper than last season. The recently departed LaRoche hit .285 with 32 HRs and 90 RBIs last year, despite a slow start. He also ranked 10th in the National League with a 1.015 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). The Braves plan to turn over first base to Scott Thorman, who as a rookie hit .234 with five homers in 155 at-bats, and .298 with 15 homers for Class AAA Richmond. Not exactly an upgrade.

The team also lost 2B Marcus Giles, who left to play with his brother in San Diego. Last season Giles was forced into a leadoff role, even though he wasn’t a natural fit. This season, with Giles gone, the Braves have no obvious leadoff candidate.

If the Braves are going to score any runs, they will need Edgar Renteria to once again defy father time, Chipper Jones to stay healthy, Andruw Jones to have a huge contract year and Jeff Francouer to finally become the all-star they believe he is.

Don’t hold your breath.

Offseason Grade: C-




Marcus Giles, John Thompson, Chris Reitsma

Projected Lineup, Rotation and Closer

SS Edgar Renteria – .293/.361/.436, 17 SB

2B Martin Prado – .262/.340/.405, 1 HR

3B Chipper Jones – .324/.409/.596, 26 HR

CF Andruw Jones – .262/.363/.531, 41 HR, 129 RBI

C Brian McCann – .333/.388/.572, 24 HR

RF Jeff Francouer – .260/.293/.449, 29 HR

LF Ryan Langerhans & Matt Diaz (platoon) – combined 14 HR, 60 RBI

1B Scott Thorman – none

SP John Smoltz – 16-9, 3.49

SP Tim Hudson – 13-12, 4.86

SP Mike Hampton – none

SP Chuck James – 11-4, 3.78

SP Kyle Davies – 3-7, 8.38

CL Bob Wickman – 33 S, 2.67 ERA

- Hot Offseason Action Index -

11 Responses to “Hot Offseason Action: Braves”

  1. Of course, I have some objections.

    First and formost, I want to point out that this was a HIGHLY scientific study. I especially liked the way they decided to give Boston an extra point for Fenway, while only giving Chicago half a point for Wrigley, b/c Wrigley has too many day games.


    1. The Patriots have terrible unis.

    2. The White Sox have terrible unis. I just can’t get into the black/white sports teams (except the raiders, but they have more silver).

    3. The Vikings only got 1.5 stars? Really? The purple people eaters?

    4. The Sixers’ unis kill me. They’re terrible. Black? I mean, we’re a team that’s named after a year — the 1776ers. That’s already totally badass. We don’t need to pretend to be even tougher by adopting black unis. We should return to the Barkley era Sixers jerseys, complete with short shorts.

    As for the other Philly teams, the Phillies unis are good, but could be a tad more maroon, if you ask me. The Flyers remain one of the best hockey jerseys, while the Eagles have one of the best looks in sports. Period. And now that the Vet has been replaced by the very trendy, very cozy Shitizen Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field, our stadiums even kick ass.

    Really, we’re just one Sixers uni change away from the top five.

    So there.

    E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!

  2. Sarah Green says:

    First and foremost, let me say that while the Patriots’ uniforms aren’t particularly breathtaking (not like the Bruins’ unis, which are truly spectacular…truly) they have avoided many of the pitfalls that other teams have, such as TEAL. Earlier, Coley, you pointed out that teams like the Diamondbacks used to be all, “Oh, let’s have teal uniforms! Everyone loves teal!” But now they are going back to some more normal colors. Now, Eagles teal isn’t like Diamondbacks teal (teal is much less annoying when not conjoined with purple…which I admit was my color scheme for all of fourth grade). But still, perhaps the Eagles would be well served by backing slowly away from the teal (since who wants to look even a little bit like 4th grade Sarah Green?) and returning to their days of true green. And speaking of purple, while the Vikings uniform of purple and yellow has a certain camp appeal, it’s just not, well, badass. Alas.

  3. Are you kidding???!?!? The White Sox have HAD terrible unis, but the current version has, by far, the most compelling, we’ll-take-you-out ‘tude ever.

    Besides, it’s a perfect complement to that perpetual S-O-X logo, unchanged since eternity!!

    (On a side note, what’s with the period in the headline? I thought you were a copywriter?)

  4. Nick Kapur says:

    I’ve never considered the Eagles’ color to be “teal.” It’s much closer to a “forest green,” IMHO.

  5. Nick Kapur says:

    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the Braves made this LaRoache-Gonzalez trade. How can you trade a player who OPS’d over 1.000 for a relief pitcher? They must have really been fed up with his ADD or something. What a terrible trade.

  6. Nick Kapur says:

    The Braves just signed Craig Wilson, so I guess that means the won’t necessarily be betting the entire farm on Scott Thorman now.

  7. Sarah Green says:

    Alejandro! I’m not a copywriter, I am a *columnist.* Besides, we put exclamation points and question marks in things, so why not the occasional period?

    Don’t start talking smack about punctuation with me, Leal. I just fixed the apostrophes in your Ball Girl post! Snap!

  8. Coley Ward says:

    Nick, as usual, you are the voice of reason to Sarah’s manic, illogical hormonefest. It’s “MIDNIGHT GREEN,” Green!

    Also, had ESPN taken into account these unis, which were designed by Vera Wang herself, we surely would have won.

  9. Alejandro says:

    Well serves you well to be a pundit, Green, you totally overlooked the fact that WHIMP is spelled with an H!!!!

    The damn thing sat there for days calling ball girls “weakly interacting massive particles.”

  10. Nick Kapur says:

    At least the Bravos finally figured out that without Leo Mazzone, they can no longer just run out to the mound whichever AAAA pitchers they can scrounge from the independent leagues and have the best bullpen in the league anymore.

    But what’s with all the mainstream sportswriter adulation for John Scheurholz over these latest bullpen moves? Scheurholz has consistently been one of the least creative GMs in the game, and now that Leo is gone he is getting exposed for the fraud that he is.

    People keep writing how the Braves “underachieved” last year and these moves will put them back on track, but the truth is, last year’s squad was terrible, and this year’s looks even worse.

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