Ways the Gerald Laird Acquisition Will Really Help the Atlanta Braves
The void was caused by David Ross's departure to the Boston Red Sox, and the Braves wasted no time in adding Laird.
While the signing will not make national headlines, it has the potential to be a very good signing for the team.
Most of the attention surrounding the organization this offseason has centered around what the Braves will do to fill their outfield positions.
However, the addition of Laird could have just as much of an impact in the short-term and long-term.
1. Opening Day Starter
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Laird joining the Braves helps the team in the short-run as he will be the Opening Day starter in 2013.
Brian McCann battled injuries throughout the entire 2012 season and struggled to find any consistency.
He underwent shoulder surgery that will threaten his availability for the first few weeks of the 2013 season.
After McCann, the options for the Braves at catcher are limited.
Laird gives them a solid insurance option who can play good defense, manage the rotation and provide some offense.
And if McCann returns from his surgery and struggles again next year with injuries, the Braves can feel comfortable in their backup plan with Laird.
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The core of the Braves team is young, which bodes well for the future.
However, young players don't usually command the locker room like a veteran player.
Baseball is a long season that will inevitably have its ups and down. During those slumps, players have to step up.
Chipper Jones and David Ross are no longer in the clubhouse. Tim Hudson will have a major voice, but so will Laird.
He is a 10-year veteran and has World Series experience the last two years.
That is the next step for the Braves to take.
Having a guy who has been in that position recently will have a huge impact on players like Freddie Freeman, Kris Medlen, Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons.
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Laird will become a teacher for the top position prospect in the organization, Christian Bethancourt.
McCann becomes a free agent after the 2013 season and it is looking more and more likely that the Braves will let him walk.
That makes Bethancourt the catcher of the future, and this next year will go a long way in determining that.
The natural helper for him to learn what it takes at the big league level is Laird, since McCann and Bethancourt will be in competition for the spot.
Learning how to manage a rotation, the logistics of being a major league player and calling a game are things he can and should learn from Laird.
Not only does Laird help the Braves in 2013, but he will have an impact on the future of the organization, something that will go unnoticed by the common fan but not by Frank Wren, Fredi Gonzalez and the players in the locker room.
Backup catchers usually don't get paid for their offense but rather their defense.
Laird will come in and play above average defense for the Braves. For his career he's thrown out 33 percent of would-be base stealers and he posted a .997 fielding percentage in 2009 in which he played in 135 games.
His RPP (calculates the number of runs above / below average a catcher is at blocking pitches) of 1.2 in 2012 rates better than Ross's -1.6.
The Braves should feel fortunate to be able to replace Ross with Laird.
He will play solid defense and not be a liability in the field.
5. Manage Rotation
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Catchers have to build a rapport with every pitcher on the staff.
It's vital to understand how to call games and know the pitchers' strengths and weaknesses.
This past season in Detroit, Laird managed a rotation that featured a veteran ace with some talented, inexperienced arms around him.
Hudson will be the veteran of the staff with tons of talented, young arms around him.
He's coming into a similar situation as he was placed in last season, which should give him a comfort zone on a new team.
He was a big part in getting that rotation to the World Series, and that's exactly what the Braves hope he'll do for them in 2013.