Thursday, January 8, 2009

3 comments A Eulogy of Sorts

(Note: I posted this and then thought about it more and decided I still feel this way: I don't trust Frank Wren to make the team better, I don't like the Red Sox and I don't want them to have Smoltz because he was my favorite Braves player, and Bobby Cox drives me crazy. Mix it all together and this is what you get)

Oh this cruel world. I came into work (by work, I mean "woke up in mom's attic and fired up the Mac) wondering if there was going to be anything to write about today. I mentioned a couple of days ago this is the first time in nearly 20 years I have not been looking forward to the baseball season and it has only gotten worse with the news that John Smoltz is going to sign with the Boston Red Sox. I am not going to turn into Bill Simmons on anyone here, but I am going to bitch for a second, and if you don't want to read it I am planning on posting something later today and you can skip it. No hard feelings.

As many of you can guess, I am an Atlanta Braves fan and have been since I was little. My first goldfish was named Dale Murphy and my parents had to console me for a solid week when he was traded...I was 18 at the time (kidding...). Being a Braves fan, I am also insanely spoiled, I realize this. One thing that has always frustrated me is that Turner Field was never sold out when the Braves played in the playoffs and the regular season games are like going to a church mass, they can get pretty quiet. I really wish it was louder, and if you get loud, people look at you like you just cursed out their grandmother. I wish the environment was like that at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park, that would make me feel great, but it is not like it was in the early 1990's at Fulton County Stadium anymore.

I really don't like saying things like this, but Frank Wren needs to be fired, and Bobby Cox needs to retire after this year. I have never seen a GM of any of my teams bungle an offseason like Frank Wren has. My favorite pro football team signed Sean Gilbert to a $46 million dollar contract after he sat out an entire year because God told him to, then signed Chuck Smith, Reggie White, and Eric Swann when the year was not 1997. Just keep that in mind as I say this. The Braves have to start over and the Smoltz signing with the Red Sox is the final straw for me. This ship is sinking incredibly slowly and painfully, they are still trying to compete and also rebuild. It's not happening. I am going to spare everyone and not break down how the Braves should start over, it really is not that intricate.

The Braves started this offseason with nearly $45 million to spend. I am not a fan of just spending money to spend money and throwing it around. When a team has this much money though, it has a responsibility to spend it, and spend it wisely, both of which Frank Wren has failed miserably at achieving. They currently have in the neighborhood of $25 million to spend. So far Frank Wren has negotiated with Jake Peavy through the media, been outbid for A.J. Burnett by $2.5 million (not per year, but overall), allowed Rafael Furcal the opportunity to renege on a contract, had no success in an attempt to trade Jeff Francouer while he still has some sense of value (look at his minor league numbers, its not getting any better than what he is now), and now has low balled John Smoltz to the point where he is taking a contract with the Red Sox. The Braves have $25 million to spend and no fucking person to spend it on and have offered Smoltz $2 million less than the Red Sox. Why? This team is going nowhere and going there fast, at least give Braves fans the chance to see Smoltz pitch the rest of his career in Atlanta if the team is going to suck.

Frank Wren has performed a feat no other GM, including some of the worst in the game, could do. He has had money to spend because of contracts coming off the books and managed to make his team considerably worse the following year. I thought a friend of mine was crazy when he told me Monday the Braves would be fourth in the NL East this year, but he is absolutely correct. Not just because the Red Sox have signed Smoltz but because his signing is indicative of everything WRONG Frank Wren is doing. I will never bet against John Smoltz. If he had his right arm amputated I really think he would be able to learn to pitch left handed and be effective. He had an ERA of 2.00 last year before he got injured, and sure he got injured again, but he is still a great option in the starting rotation. Kudos to the Red Sox, they have gotten a great pitcher, it makes me angry they get to cheer for him, because I pretty much don't like them. They should never be able to share in the joy of cheering for Smoltz but they can because of Frank Wren, who has already destroyed the Orioles. Here and here.

Throw in the retarded ass trade for J.D. Drew (they got one year out of him, woo-hoo!) for Adam Wainwright and Jason Marquis, which to this day I never understood the purpose of and the Tex trade where the Braves gave up 5 top 20 prospects in their system, only to trade Tex to the Angels for an average first baseman and a relief pitcher, and the Braves have set themselves up for failure for years now with their poor decisions. I know all of these were not Frank Wren decisions but his job is to make the team better right now and he has made it progressively worse. It's time to start over and Bobby Cox has to go after this year as well. Not because he is a bad manager or anything of the sort, which he is bad strategy wise, but because he is not going to be around in three years and the Braves have to prepare for two to three years from now. Free agents don't want to come to Atlanta and the Braves are low balling their own players. The Braves always want their stars to take a "hometown discount" rather than pay them their market price and the time for this has to stop. They play in fucking Atlanta, which is not a small market, they have great attendance and a large fan base so put a team out there that is worth watching.

There is no reason for John Smoltz to pitch for the Red Sox next year. He has earned enough goodwill to where the Braves should not low ball him on any offers. He has gone to the bullpen, gone back to being a starter, gone back to the bullpen, and waited around in the offseason before for the Braves to offer a contract. He doesn't deserve this and you can't treat him this way and think other players around the league don't see it. I am not hitting the panic button, I am being realistic at this point, its not getting any better this year. Time to build a new foundation, stop trading prospects to win now, get serious about winning games, and stop acting like a poor little small market team. Maybe management should use the $25 million to hire a decent General Manager. Even worse than putting a bad team on the field is killing a fan base's morale. Everyone will get over Smoltz pitching for the Red Sox but no one is going to forget the reason he went there was because the Braves would not give him a contract offer sooner and worth more than $3 million. Maybe Frank Wren pulls something out of his ass in the next couple weeks and makes the team better but based on his past I highly doubt it.

I will try and post something later today.


Bengoodfella said...

I can't stop talking about do you have money to spend in free agency and get progressively worse?

I can see Frank Wren throwing a ton of money at Derek Lowe or trading prospects for a good pitcher/left fielder, and if that works out, I will take all of this back and say I was wrong.

Bobby Cox really does need an exit strategy though.

Unknown said...

I never understood teh Tex trade, well, either Tex trade for the Braves. They gave up too much for a team that was at best, marginally able to make or win the World Series.

I don't live in Atlanta, but it must be a hell of a place for the Braves to constantly expect players to take a "home team" discount.

I've always loved Smoltz and Maddux. I always thought Glavine was overrated. He benefitted from the 8inches beyond the black strike zone of 90-98 than any pitcher in the majors. It always made me laugh my ass off listening to Bobby Cox complain about his batters being jobbed by a big strike zone. Glavine, and to some extent, Maddux, both benefitted from it far more then the Braves were ever hurt by it.

Bengoodfella said...

Atlanta is a nice place but not nice enough for someone who has not gone through the Braves system to want to stay there. I don't know about Maddux but Glavine did get that outside strike a whole hell of a lot back during the long run the Braves had. I will never argue that Glavine did not benefit a little bit from that. If anything Maddux got the inside corner a little bit more than most people.

The Tex trades were nightmares on both ends, coming and going. I don't think it is all over for the Braves but morale is going to be at a new low based on Smoltz leaving. The Braves have not wanted to pay market value for any of their own free agents for a while now and it finally came to bite them in the ass. I just don't want to see Smoltz in a Red Sox uniform.