Reaction: Renteria, Girardi, Torre
Herewith the first installment of the “do we care” category of the Hot Stove season …
Edgar Renteria Traded to the Tigers
Do We Care: yes
The Atlanta Braves made the first move of the offseason — a preemptive strike on the impending free agent market — by sending shortstop Edgar Renteria to the Tigers for two minor leaguers no one has ever heard of, RHP Jair Jurrjens and OF Gorkys Hernandez.
On the one hand, it’s great that the Braves have dumped one of their most dangerous hitters and an excellent defender in the infield. On the other hand, they have Yunel Escobar waiting in the wings and looks more than ready to take over — possibly matching Renteria’s production both in the field and at the plate. Plus, he comes at a much lower salary, which means the Braves now have some cash to throw at free agents such as Torii Hunter and Tom Glavine.
Oh, and then there’s that matter of the two “unknown” prospects — it turns out they’re pretty good. Jurrjens, a 22-year-old from Curacao with outstanding control and a 97-MPH fastball, is almost guaranteed to step right in to the back end of the Braves’ starting rotation and be the pitcher that Kyle Davies couldn’t. Hernandez may be further away from MLB duty, but he’s only 20 years old and is a Carlos Gomez type of prospect — great speed, good raw ability, some possibility of developing power as he grows older. Baseball America rated him Detroit’s #7 prospect last November, saying, “The only position player in the system with more upside is Cameron Maybin. Hernandez may follow the same path and play in low Class A as a 19-year-old. He could become a special prospect if he continues to mature.”
Ain’t it amazing how the Braves are seemingly always able to make brilliant deals, shed money, and come up with great young (and inexpensive) talent? It’s really annoying …
Joe Girardi Named Manager of Yankees
Do We Care: No
Ho-hum. Do we care? Not really. The only benefit to the Mets is that Girardi is not a manager in the NL, where he showed promise leading the Marlins. Had he not been offered the job by the Yanks, he likely would have had a shot at the managerial position of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now that might have bothered me, since Girardi would have been a good fit there. However …
Joe Torre May Manage the Dodgers
Do We Care: Not really
So, “Clueless Joe” is moving westward … or at least, that’s the rumor. The rumor also surmises that Don Mattingly will follow him there as bench coach.
This is supposed to make the rest of the National League shake in their boots?
Unless the Dodgers decide to double their payroll, I’m not concerned. Without the very best talent in the universe available to him, Joe Torre’s managerial record is a sparkling 894-1003. Yes, he managed some bad Mets teams in the 1970s, but he also did nothing of consequence leading the Braves and Cardinals. OK, he did finish first with the Braves once (1982), but didn’t finish first in any of his other 15 non-Yankee years as a manager. Returning to the NL, he’ll have to actually manage again — you know, do that stuff that Willie can’t comprehend, like remove pitchers at the right time, use pinch-hitters effectively, call bunts at opportune times, and do that double-switch thing every once in a while.
If the Dodgers are dumb enough to blame their 2007 season on Grady Little, and think Joe Torre is the answer … well … good luck with that, guys. Another fourth-place finish in the ultra-competitive NL West looks to be in the future.
Why do I get the feeling this guy Jurrjens is going to win 15 games and the ROY award next season? And that Escobar will hit .320 and play Gold Glove defense? I hate the Braves…
Smoltz and Hudson don’t need to improve, but simply continue the standard they’ve set over the past three seasons. And that’s better than any 1-2 combo the Mets have had over the same time period. Add in Glavine for another 200+ innings and now the bullpen is not such a serious worry for them — although I agree it’s currently in a shambles. But, the thing about Bobby Cox, and unlike Willie Randolph, is that he isn’t afraid to try 25 guys in the bullpen, and doesn’t believe in hard-set roles. So the Braves have more potential to improve in the ‘pen after Opening Day.
Also this is just one move of many to come from the Braves … they’ll be re-tooling, and already have a pretty strong foundation from which to work.
They may finish third next year, but could still wind up within five games of first place … I doubt they’ll be blown out of the water.