The stupid Atlanta Braves made a huge move today, acquiring Tim Frickin’ Hudson for Charles Thomas, Juan Cruz, and Dan Meyer.
Hudson, Smoltz and Ramirez — who missed the final four months of the 2004 season with shoulder soreness — will fill the voids created by the departures of Paul Byrd, Jaret Wright and Russ Ortiz. Those three hurlers exited Atlanta via free agency this year.
The Braves have shown interest in acquiring Hudson for over a month, but the talks really didn’t come to life until the A’s said that Marcus Giles didn’t have to be part of the deal. Braves manager Bobby Cox made it known that he was unwilling to trade Giles.
With this deal, the A’s are acquiring some of Atlanta’s top young talent. Oakland has been very high on Meyer, a promising 24-year-old southpaw. Thomas was one of the Majors’ biggest surprises last year, going from a non-roster player to a defensive gem in left field.
Cruz will likely get his long-anticipated shot at being a starter in the A’s rotation. The lanky right-hander has an outstanding fastball and has been compared by some observers as a raw Pedro Martinez.
Thomas was a rookie for the Braves last year; a left-handed hitter who turns 26 in ten days. You can see his stats here. Interestingly enough, Thomas was a former Western Carolina Catamount, which my colleague Joe attends.
Juan Cruz we’re familiar with. 6-2, 2.75, 30 BB to 70K in 72 innings, 50 relief appearances last year. He’s now 26 years old and MLB.com thinks the A’s might use him as a starter. This is his golden opportunity to become a star.
Dan Meyer had 2 appearances last year in the majors. He’s a 23 year old lefty reliever who’s put up nice numbers in the minor leagues.
Charles Thomas is the kind of guy the Cubs should be going after to back up in the outfield and play occasionally. He’s cheap, motivated to prove himself, and a decent hitter, judging by his minor league stats and his debut last year.
I wish the best for Cruz, and he’s in a great organization to achieve his potential now. Dan Meyer seems like a good choice. So the A’s got a good pitcher (Cruz) who poses significant upside as well as risk — he’ll probably end up back in the bullpen if he does start; a lefty starter who’s maybe half a year to one year away (Meyer), and a backup outfielder. The prize is Meyer; Beane got good value for Hudson.
The Braves get a giant shot in the arm and suddenly the disappearance of the improbably effective trio of Wright, Ortiz, and Hampton is not as big a deal, ‘cuz we know Hudson can outpitch all of those scrubs even in their best years.
So far the Cubs have avoided any major blunders, so I’m pleased to say they’re not on the stupid team list.
However, the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners are earning giant, overpriced cone-shaped caps with the word “DUNCE” upon them.
The Mets have done this:
-Signed mediocre Kris Benson to pretty big money.
-Signed Pedro Martinez, a great pitcher, to big money. Okay, tried to, pending the physical. Ideally, what would be best is that Pedro’s physical results scare the crap out of the Mets and they panic and trade for Sosa. Minaya will act as chemotherapist to the Cubs’ cancer, Sosa can have a fresh start and I can wish him the best.
The Mariners have done this:
-signed First Baseman Richie Sexson to big money. He’ll play LF (if they can sign Delgado and maybe even if not) during the beginning of his declining years, and hit a lot of long fly balls in Seattle.
-Re-signed Dan Wilson. WHY? Even for free he’s a rip-off at this point.
-Signed Adrian Beltre. I actually give them credit for this deal. They didn’t go too long — he’ll be turning 32 just after opening day the year after the 5 year deal expires, and they are paying him an average of 13 mil per year. They’re ASSUMING he’s going to be at least 90 percent of the player he was in 2004, but I think it’s a good gamble.
-However, they have SO MANY problems all around the diamond that throwing money at free agents is not going to move them to the top of the standings. They ought to have saved the money and kept working to build their team from within.
Across town, the White Sox submitted themselves to a completely unnecessary anal probing by getting Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino for Carlos Lee. Lee’s 28 and coming off of a big year. Podsednik is 28 and coming off of an absolute crap year which represents 50 percent of his major league career. Lee’s been pretty steadily around .825 to an .850 OPS, which doesn’t make him a star, but it doesn’t make him Scott Podsednik, either. Oh, and they got a 30 year old relief pitcher who’s one year from a 6.39 ERA.
But the granddaddy dunces are the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose special olympics-style decision making led to Big Benjamins for Glaus, whose arm is likely shot, and Russ Ortiz, whose 112:143 walks:strikeouts ratio speaks ill of his chance for continued success. These two are solid ballplayers, but they’re overpaying by a LOT. Last year’s worst team also added offensive zero, Craig Counsell, who hits like Rey Ordonez, Royce Clayton, who has hit worse than Ordonez a couple of years, and hired and fired a manager within a week. Baseball season will end in Spring Training for the length of the Ortiz & Glaus contracts in Arizona. Oh, wait a minute; I take it all back. They also signed, to a minor league deal, legendary catcher Kelly Stinnett. Now THAT’s progress.
The Right Thing To Do
The City Council of Washington, D.C. may have doomed baseball in Washington, but they saved the taxpayers of said district from bearing the burden of constructing a stadium by requiring that 50 percent of the money be put up from the private sector. JESUS BLESS THEM! I don’t care what kind of deal they made with MLB. Any time the owner of the team — the ones who stand to profit from the team — is required to pay for the team’s facility, it is a victory for the taxpayer. As big a baseball fan that I am, funding sports stadiums is NOT what tax money is for. Let the owners of the team be the financiers. I guess they don’t have an ownership group finalized yet (do they?), but that’s irrelevant. That’s my opinion and I’m stickin’ to it!