1. Well, it means for the first time since Furcal left following the 2005 season, the Braves have a true leadoff hitter. Despite the Braves aversion to speed and stolen bases, this is a good thing.
2. It means the Braves were able to sign one of the few remaining free agents in their price range, even if it is likely that the ultimate deciding factor was the ability to play for Bobby Cox again (seriously, have you ever seen so many former players express their affinity for a former team the way ex-Braves do for Cox? It's unreal). This is also a good thing, even if I lament the fact that a decade ago, it would have been 'us' bidding for the Texieras, Adam Dunns and Sabathias on the market.
3. Most importantly, it gives the Braves much needed flexibility and leverage in trade negotiations. Let's break this one down further:
- My preference, all along, has been to grab Jake Peavy from the Padres. I find the notion that we shouldn't trade Yunel Escobar and three 2nd-tier prospects for one of the game's Top 5 pitchers asinine. If the 1990's and last few years have taught us anything, it is that aces are needed to win in the postseason. With Peavy, the Braves have an ace. Without him, they don't. This would have been true also even if they had signed AJ Burnett.
- Another way to look at it, if this rumored Peavy deal goes through. Last week, it looked like the Braves Opening Day shortstop and 1-2 SP were going to be Escobar, Burnett and Javier Vazquez, respectively. Now it could be Furcal, Peavy, and Vazquez. That is a major upgrade.
- Let's say for whatever reason, the Padres asking price for Peavy is deemed too high by Frank Wren and Co. Fair enough. At this point, the Braves have the option of protecting their bad-back investment by moving Furcal to 2nd Base, where the wear-and-tear on his back wouldn't be nearly as stressful. Escobar stays at short, and Kelly Johnson moves to left field (more on that in a second). You then have the ability to use the money allocated to Burnett/Peavy on a couple of free agent starters (Oliver Perez, Brad Penny, etc) or even a trade for one (Paul Maholm, Zack Greinke), and hopefully a decent bat.
(It's at this point in the article I realize the Braves probably have too many holes to fill and the 2009 season will end without October baseball, but damnit if I'm not going to keep blabbering...)
Since this is all conjecture at this point, I'd just like to tap into my inner Wren for a second and outline my plan/hopes for the remainder of the offseason, assuming this Furcal deal goes through.
1. Trade Yunel and the necessary prospects for Peavy. Hopefully, with the Braves' newfound leverage, they can hold onto some of the prospects they were worried about losing in round one of negotiations (Charlie Morton!?).
Result: This move solidifies your infield of Chipper-Furcal-Johnson-Kotchman-McCann and likely your SP rotation of Peavy-Vazquez-Jurrjens-Glavine/crappy free agent-JoJo/Morton in the five spot as we anxiously await Tommy Hanson's arrival in June or July.
2. Sign what I assume will be bargain-basement options at left and center field. If there is money for a Pat Burrell-type bat, I would love to see him batting cleanup behind Chipper and in front of McCann. But seeing as how I'm not overseeing the books, and I've already wasted enough of my employer's money on this soon-to-be useless article, I can't say with certainty that this is possible. Sign a Burrell type, and under this scenario I'd expect this Braves team to contend for a playoff birth...sign someone off the Podsednik, Griffey, Kotsay, Diaz discount rack, and all we can do is hope for a shot at October.
Apologies all around for the scattered nature of this post, but trying to find a way to plug all the Braves holes in a timely and coherent manner is proving extremely difficult. I have a sudden urge to give Frank Wren the benefit of the doubt from here on out.