Recapping Moving Day in Atlanta

James HulkaAnalyst IJune 4, 2009

KISSIMMEE, FL - MARCH 3:  Pitcher Tommy Hanson #73 of the Atlanta Braves throws during an exhibition game against Panama at Champion Stadium March 3, 2009 in Kissimmee, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

It will be difficult for anyone to top the Braves with regards to being a newsworthy team after they made not one or two headline catching moves—but three.

Granting a future Hall of Famer who has 305 career wins and two Cy Young Awards his unconditional release is momentous in its own right.

There are some discrepancies to exactly how the meeting went - but the end result is that Glavine's days in Atlanta are over. Whether he requested his release or that was the decision of the Braves entering their meeting with the 43 year-old lefty is still a matter of debate.

When it comes down to baseball—there isn't much debate that releasing Glavine made a lot of sense.

Glavine was due a roster bonus of $1 million once he was added to the active major league roster. He also had another $2.5 million in roster bonuses coming his way after a month in the majors.

The move saved the Braves potentially $3.5 million this year for a 43 year-old pitcher who was clocked at about 81 mph in his last minor league rehab start. That was his fastball - not a changeup. 

The logic makes sense. Who would be better served to be in the Braves rotation? Would it be a 43 year-old lefty who is trying to recover from elbow surgery and has lost velocity, or one of two under-22 pitching prospects who are healthy, dominating AAA hitters, and ready for a promotion?

The money was surely a factor, but this also was a rational baseball decision.

The release of Glavine was the first (or was it) in a series of moves the Braves made.

Long reliever Jorge Campillo was placed on the Disabled List earlier in the day, and at least temporarily, is replaced on the Major League roster by 3B/OF Brian Barton to assist the Braves for a few days while Casey Kotchman's bruise from a Max Scherzer slider heals and Martin Prado mans first base.

Prior to Saturday's game—I expect Barton to be optioned back to AAA Gwinnett as the Braves made the second major decision of the day by announcing that Kris Medlen will be moved from the rotation to the bullpen and top prospect Tommy Hanson will start Saturday night's game against the Brewers.

Many Braves fans and surely some in the front office have been wondering not if this move was going to be made—but when.

Hanson's only issue this season at AAA Gwinnett has been being efficient. Hanson's statistics this season have been impressive.

In 11 starts, Hanson has a 3-3 record, a 1.49 ERA, 90 strikeouts compared to only 17 walks in 66.1 innings. Opponents are hitting a paltry .169 against the 6'6" right-hander who has a fastball that regularly whizzes by hitters at 98 or 99 mph.

Kris Medlen's victory Sunday in Arizona was the first by the No. 5 starter for the Braves since June 2008—almost a full season. Jo-Jo Reyes has been winless in the No. 5 starter position since then, and it took Medlen until his third start to get a victory.

While Gregor Blanco has been manning center field the past few days after the struggling Jordan Schafer was sent down to AAA, he likely won't be in center at Turner Field on Thursday night in the series finale against the Cubs.

The Braves third major move of the day was trading RHP Charlie Morton, LHP Jeff Locke, and OF Gorkys Hernandez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for All-Star and Gold Glove centerfielder Nate McLouth.

These names should sound vaguely familiar to Braves fans. Charlie Morton spent about half the 2008 season in the Braves rotation, but struggled after winning his major league debut against the Angels.

Jeff Locke is a hard-throwing lefty who was 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA at Myrtle Beach so far in 2009. He heads to Pittsburgh, along with CF Gorkys Hernandez, who started this season at AA Mississippi. If the name Gorkys Hernandez rings a bell—he was acquired along with Jair Jurrjens in the trade that sent SS Edgar Renteria to Detroit in October 2007.

Financially—the decisions don't really affect the Braves payroll for 2009. McLouth is making $2.5 million this year—the exact amount of Tom Glavine's second roster bonus.

What also helps the Braves is that McLouth is not just a rent-a-player. He is 27 years-old, hit .276 with 26 HR and 94 RBI last year in making the NL All-Star team and is signed through the end of 2011 with a $10 million option for 2012.

His current power numbers of 9 HR and 34 RBI are now the highest of anyone on the Braves roster. The move helps the Braves now, for the next few years, without breaking the bank.

For the Pirates, this does clear some salary, but they get a few more prospects, and the move allows them to promote their best prospect, OF Andrew McCutchen.

As I finish writing this - McLouth's offensive production would be welcomed greatly as the Braves just lost 3-2 in 11 innings, with no help from the umpires.

In the fourth inning, Derrek Lee checked his swing on a full count slider from Derek Lowe with runners on first and second base. Ryan Theriot was out on the apparent double play.

However, first base umpire Gary Cedarstrom ruled that Lee checked his swing despite replays showing that Lee's bat was not stopped until it was a full foot in front of home plate. By rule—should have been a double play.

The next batter, Mike Fontenot, doubled to center to drive in the first two runs of the game.

The other missed call was when pinch-runner Brian Barton was incorrectly called out attempting to steal second base by umpire Jim Wolf in the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied at two.

An "excuse me" single in the top of the 11th inning by Micah Hoffpauir to score Derrek Lee from third proved to be the game's final run.

For the Braves—they made big news in the baseball world three times over, all while losing a game in extra innings.

McLouth is scheduled to arrive in time to be in the starting lineup Thursday night against scheduled Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano.


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