The Atlanta Braves: What's Next After the Jake Peavy Trade?

Kelly RenselContributor INovember 11, 2008

So let's say that the Jake Peavy deal is finally done.

San Diego took a package of SS Yunel Escobar, OF Gorkys Hernandez, and left-handed pitchers Jo-Jo Reyes and Jeff Locke.

That leaves us with holes at shortstop, left field, center field and three-fifths of our rotation. There are plenty of free agents abound, and we have the money this year to spend.

At shortstop, Rafael Furcal would be the biggest splash we could make.

In addition to being a great leadoff hitter, something we've been lacking since he left Atlanta, he would fill a huge void at shortstop.

The most attractive thing about Furcal is how cheaply he can come.

Furcal signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Dodgers in December of 2005. He played in only 36 games because of back surgery in 2008 but hit .400 in 12 games upon his return (including playoffs).

Also, we have former Brave Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera available, both of which are Type-A free agents that would mean losing draft picks.

In the outfield, we have two spots to fill (or three if you count the year that Francoeur had).

There are three names that might intrigue the Braves the most: Milton Bradley, Raul Ibanez, and Rocco Baldelli.

Bradley, a Type-B free agent, hit .321 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI in 126 games for Texas this past year.

Injuries and attitude are the two biggest downfalls for Bradley.

He's never played more than 141 games in a season because of various hamstring, shoulder, and knee problems. He's also gotten into altercations with fans and has thrown a bucket of balls and bats onto the field in a fit of rage.

Now, let's remember Gary Sheffield. 

He came into Atlanta with a bad reputation for being a hothead, but he kept his nose clean.  He could've easily turned into Deion Sanders, John Rocker, or Kenny Lofton, and been a clubhouse cancer.

Raul Ibanez, I think, is the most likely to land in Atlanta.

He's driven in over 100 runs in each of the last three seasons for Seattle and hit 33, 21, and 23 home runs in those seasons, respectively.

Ibanez, who turns 37 in June, might see a power surge in Atlanta, however, because Safeco Field is far less conducive to hitters than Turner Field. He might not be the clean-up hitter we're looking for but could be a very solid five-hole guy.

Remember in December of 2006, when we were offering Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Yunel Escobar, and Kyle Davies/Chuck James for Rocco Baldelli?

The Rays are probably kicking themselves for that one. Well... maybe not but it's still funny to look at.

Baldelli has played in 155 games over the past three seasons and missed all of 2005 due to knee surgery and hamstring problems.

This year, he was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, which causes his muscles to fatigue quickly.  It would be beneficial for him to stay put in the AL because it'll be easier on him physically to DH.

But Baldelli could still be an asset to Atlanta because he might not be a bad platoon option with one of our young outfielders.

With Peavy and Jurrjens, we have a solid 1-2 punch, but then there's a gigantic black hole in the rotation.

Derek Lowe is the best option as far as free agency.

Since becoming a starter in 2002, Lowe has won 14 or more games in five of those seven seasons and gets a ton of groundballs due to the use of his sinker.

Lowe has also topped 200 innings five times since '02 and has a career 1.27 WHIP.

Another option is Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa.

We've already extended a contract offer to him a few weeks ago. His fastball is clocked around 92-95 mph consistently, and he has a 12-to-6 curveball.

You can check out a YouTube video link here to see him pitch.

The last option for a starter is Jon Garland.

He, like Lowe, is an innings-eater, having pitched 200+ innings in each of the past five seasons.  Plus, Garland is still relatively young (he turned 30 in September).

He won 18 games in back-to-back years for the White Sox in 2005 and 2006.

The only downfall is that he doesn't strikeout a lot of hitters.  He has averaged 4.6 K's per nine innings in his career, and has a 1.39 career WHIP.

(Side note: I know I didn't take in Smoltz or Glavine as a factor.  This is because they are going to be out most of the year.  And since I'm not expecting much, anything from them will be a bonus.)


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