Atlanta Braves 2009 Off Season

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Atlanta Braves 2009 Off Season
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The Atlanta Braves finished the 2009 Regular Season at 86–76, seven games behind the division leading Philadelphia Phillies. They also were six games behind the NL Wild Card winner Colorado Rockies, so for 2010 the Braves need to improve to make the post season. The 2009 season was an improvement over the 2008 season where the Braves finished at 72–90. The Braves started the 2009 season with a payroll of $96 million, and I would suspect they would be around the same dollar amount.

Free Agents

The Braves have only a handful of free agents headed into the off season but at critical positions. Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano were the anchors at the back of the bullpen with recording 37 totals saves. Both Players are considered Type A free agents, which means if they are signed by another team that team surrenders its top draft choice to the Braves. Adam Laroche was the team leader in homeruns and is considered a Type B Free Agent, so the Braves would get a supplemental draft pick from major league baseball at the end of the first round.

Atlanta Braves Free Agents

Team Needs

(a) The Braves could use some more power in the Lineup as they were 22nd in Major League Baseball in homeruns.

(b)  They will also have to address the closer role by either resigning Gonzalez and Soriano, or looking elsewhere for someone to save the precious wins.

(c) The Braves in 2009 were 29th out of 30 teams in stolen bases and could use a player adept at stealing bases, in turn puttingpressure on the defense.

Recommendations

The Braves do not have a ton of payroll coming off the books this season, so they will have limited moves the team can make. I don’t see the Braves having the budget to make a run at Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, so the best option in the short term may turn out to resign LaRoche to play first base.

They need to try to resign Rafael Soriano or explore signing a guy like JJ Putz or Billy Wagner. It’s not like closers grown on trees, and they need someone with some experience to start the season. A closer may become available at the 2010 deadline to go along with whatever option they choose this off season. 

I think it will be less costly for the Braves to add speed in the line up then it would be to add a big bat. Explore getting Juan Pierre from the Dodgers for one of your extra pitchers like Kenshin Kawakami. Pierre will help the Braves steal bases and add a little small ball to the mix. Chone Figgins of the Angels may also be an option to add speed but may command more then what the Braves are willing to spend.

The 2010 Braves should make moves to compete at the start of 2010 and add what is needed at the trading deadline to fill in the holes. They have solid starting pitching and should be able to compete in the NL East as long as they keep some payroll flexibility to add some players down the stretch.

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