Atlanta Braves: Shopping in the Dumpster Will Get You Trash

Matt TokajerCorrespondent IJune 8, 2008

Disclaimer: I'm a Braves Fan, always have been always will be. By that fact I'm spoiled by 14 years of winning, solid play, and smart baseball.

With that out of the way: What in the world are the Braves doing? Some how over the last two years we have managed to trade for seemingly every injury-riddled player in the league.

Octavio Dotel, Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez, and Mark Kotsay are all players who we acquired knowing of their injury liabilities, and each one has so far lived up to their reputation.

Each are solid baseball players, and Mark Kotsay has been a center fielder who has had me asking "Andruw who?", but every one of their contributions to the team has been sorely limited by their lack of playing time.

Maybe I'm just bitter, maybe I'm a fan, and therefore too quick to criticize, but it seems like for the last few years the Braves have been shopping on the clearance rack.

In 2007, we traded Kyle Davies, a pitcher who at one point we believed had great promise, for Octavio Dotel, a pitcher recently activated from the DL. In Atlanta, Dotel pitched 7.2 innings before being put on the DL again.

He is a pitcher who, when healthy, is a great addition to a team, before being traded to the Braves he had a 3.91 ERA and was 11-3 in save opportunities. A huge upgrade to a struggling Braves bullpen.

The thing is, players only help teams if they play. I know some people say just having certain players on the bench is a boon to a team's mentality, but a good sail with no wind gets you nowhere.

Mike Gonzalez, acquired from the Pirates for Adam LaRoche, is another pitcher with tremendous stuff, but again, a player who was known to be plagued by injury. While LaRoche has struggled after reaching Pittsburgh, at the time his stock was very high and it seems that trading him for Gonzalez was a move of desperation more than anything else.

To fill the hole left by Andruw Jones, we traded our top pick in the 2005 Draft, Joey Devine, along with Jamie Richmond for Mark Kotsay a player who only played in 56 games in 2007 due to a back injury.

While Devine was awful during his time with the Braves, he showed marks of improvement, bringing his ERA from 12.60 in five games in 2005 to 1.08 in 10 appearances in 2007.

Again, a trade for Kotsay seemed like a move of desperation. Obviously Frank Wren believed that our bullpen was in good shape without Devine. We are now in a position where the bullpen is 15th in the league with only ten saves.

It seems that the Braves, being in such a need to win, and win now, that they continue to make desperate moves now, rather than waiting for the right trades later.

Don't get me wrong, the Braves have also made some great trades, such as getting Jair Jurrjens from the Tigers and the Mark Teixera trade, but they don't seem to be making up for the bad ones.

Maybe it is time for the Braves to stop shopping in the dumpster, expecting to find a hidden treasure. In the end, the players that are found on discount are a deal for a reason.

Many people seem to think it's simply bad luck that so many of our players get injured. While many times the injuries are bad luck, such as Tim Hudson's recent injury, as well as Matt Diaz's freak knee injury, I think there's more than bad luck involved.

If we keep shopping for damaged players, hoping that they will magically be fixed after we acquire them, we will keep hearing news of injuries. Let's hope Frank Wren and the Braves' ownership starts to realize the Braves are a premium team, and they should stop shopping for damaged, second-hand goods.