Atlanta Braves Need Not Follow the San Francisco Giants Lead with Young Guns

Adam CubbageContributor IFebruary 6, 2010

ATLANTA - JUNE 26:  Starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens #49 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Turner Field on June 26, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Back after a slight hiatus a lot of crazy things have gone in the world of baseball. None crazier than the situation going on out in San Francisco with Tim Lincecum and the Giants.

Recent grumblings out of the bay area is that there is a $5 million difference between the demands of Lincecum and what the Giants are willing to offer. Now some might look at my next statement and call me crazy; but debating is what this sport is all about, and I never shy away from a good debate.

Rarely, if ever, has a team built it's roster around a pitcher. A focus on pitching? Yes. Built around a hitter? Yes. But one pitcher? Hardly.

If there is one pitcher in the game today that can anchor a team it is Tim Lincecum. He has completely changed the culture of that Giants team from mashers (Bonds, Kent, Aurilia etc.) to a team focused more on pitching and Tiny Tim is at the head of that movement.

Which is why the Giants would be wise to do everything in their power not to go to arbitration and try and convince a panel that a two-time Cy Young award winner by year three, and a guy who made that team relevant again isn't worth what he's asking.

Why risk damaging the relationship of their star player by bashing him in the proceedings?

Are you listening Atlanta?

While arbitration is still a few years away for Tommy Hanson and even further for super prospect Jason Heyward, I think Atlanta would be wise to really pay attention to it's young stars, particularly the one soon to be up for arbitration, Jair Jurrjens.

Through three seasons (two with Atlanta) Jurrjens is 30-21 with a 3.21 ERA, 304K's and a third place finish in rookie of the year voting in 2008. He would also have a better record had he not been plagued with poor run support the past two seasons ( 11 one-run losses in 2008 and 2009).

All he's done since coming to Atlanta is win and become a steady presence in the top half of the Braves rotation. Not to mention, if the Braves are truly serious about building teams around pitching, it would be wise to lock him up for a while. Especially since it appears agent Scott Boras is willing to at least entertain offers from the Braves to take him through arbitration years and beyond.

It's surprising when you look at the deals the Braves have made with pitchers over the last few years, signing established but repaired arms, it seems almost a no-brainer they would start clearing the way for the next wave of aces that are coming through the system. Taking the same approach they have with their young position players in recent years by clearing the way for their arrival in the near future.

Quick note:

Another shocker that has no doubt been discussed to death among bloggers and experts is the confession of Mark McGwire. While it should come as no shock that he did use performance enhancing drugs, I am shocked commissioner Selig has welcomed him back with open arms to Major League Baseball.

Here's a guy who has admitted to cheating (while lying about it at the same time, because for those of you who don't believe he gained an edge it's time for a reality check) and altered the career paths of many first basemen of his time, most notably Mark Grace and Wally Joyner, both of whom would have garnered a few more accolades had it not been for the bloated numbers by McGwire.

I also say shame on the Hall voters who decided to give McGwire a higher ballot percentage than a Dale Murphy, who played the game the right way and has yet to even get the recognition he deserves.