The fine folks at Talking Chop were kind enough to engage in a Q&A with us leading into the Yanks-Braves series this week. What follows is our exchange. You can check out Talking Chop’s questions and our answers here.
1) Is the Nate McLouth acquisition enough, or the Braves have to swing a move for another outfielder? Any chance Jordan Schafer makes a return appearance later on?
The McLouth trade was a great start, and a surprising one in which we didn’t give up anything that we needed from our minor league system for at least the next two years. But no, it doesn’t seem to be enough. The question we keep asking ourselves is, “do we wait for the guys currently on the team to start hitting, or do we jettison some of them for more of a sure thing.” Just about everyone in Atlanta has had enough of Jeff Francoeur, and just about any mediocre replacement player would be better than him. I don’t think Frenchy is in an Atlanta uniform next season, one way or another.
Another problem with adding another bat, is that we can’t really add that much more salary. This is why the McLouth deal was a good move (he’s signed affordably), and this is also why we will probably see Schafer again (he’s currently out with a hand injury that he actually suffered pretty early in the season),
2) What’s the general feel for Kelly Johnson? His OPS is down over 100 points from last year and 150 points from 2007. Is he just suffering from some bad luck (.250 BABIP way down from the past two years)? It seems like his Iso-D and Iso-P are right in line with 08 and 07…
Like I said in the previous answer, he’s one of the guys we keep waiting on to start hitting. If Omar Infante were not on the DL right now, there’s little doubt that Johnson would not be starting, and that might happen when Omar returns next month. So Kelly’s got a few weeks to put it together, but he seems to have gotten the Jeff Francoeur disease. I’m not sure advanced stats can measure what’s wrong with KJ, it’s more about watching him every day and seeing him pop up or ground out when last year he would have hit a line drive somewhere. Kelly’s a guy who, once he figures it out (if he does), can go on an absolute tear and carry the team for a week or two (and again, we’re still waiting on that to happen).
3) As the Braves blog of record, what is your recommended course of action regarding Jeff Francoeur?
But seriously, I offered the Red Sox blogger last week to trade him Francoeur for a pair of Monster seats. I guess I should offer you guys the same deal, Francoeur for a pair of reasonably priced Yankees tickets (do reasonably priced Yankees tickets exist?).
But seriously, seriously, the Braves are trying everything they can to trade him and the sooner the better. In the end, I think we’ll end up releasing him this off-season, and every team knows that so they’re not going to give us anything for him.
4) A.J. Burnett at five years, $80 million, or Derek Lowe at four years, $60 million?
With the injury problems we’ve had the last few years in our starting rotation, I’ll take Lowe and his streak of 7-straight years making 32 starts over Burnett and his streak of only performing well in contract years.
5) To follow up one of your questions, what do you think a fair price, from the Braves’ standpoint, would be for Xavier Nady?
How about Jeff Francoeur? I kid, I kid. If Nady proves he’s healthy and can hit, I would say a guy like Jo-Jo Reyes straight-up or Brandon Jones straight-up — sort of a B prospect who’s major league ready or almost there. Nady’s a free agent at the end of the year, so he’d be purely a rental, and I wouldn’t think you’d get too much for him, unless a team was just desperate.