The Braves have 45 million to spend in an attempt to fix the team that won only a mere 72 games last year. Their main needs: starting pitching and outfield help. Earlier, I wrote that the Braves are out of the Jake Peavy market. Since that is over, I expect them to look toward free agency to fill their holes. They won’t go after CC Sabathia, but Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, and AJ Burnett are good options. Bigger market teams like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Cubs will be in on these guys, but the Braves can spend more than all of them. (if the Yankees sign Sabathia first) They might even decide to pursue two of the three. The goal here seems to be respectable in ’09, but truly competing for a world series in ’10. Both Burnett and Lowe will probably get deals in the 4 year, 64 million range. Burnett already has an offer; the Blue Jays want him back for 4 years, 54 million. That won’t get it done. Dempster seems likely to stick with the Cubs, but then again I’m not sure if they’ll go all in. If the Braves offered 64 million, they’d probably get him. The Cubs don’t feel they have to overpay because they don’t have as big of a need at starting pitcher. In the end, I think Dempster gets a bigger offer but accepts the Cubs’ cheaper one. The Yankees could go crazy and offer Burnett up to 5 years, 80 million. They would definatly get him for that amount. Lowe is more likely, because the Yanks will be out of the bidding by then. The Red Sox might be tough to compete against because they are Lowe’s prefered destination. Hopefully for the Braves sake, the Red Sox don’t get involved. If the Mets sign Francisco Rodriguez, they won’t be able to offer the amount other teams could. They aren’t that big of a factor. The Braves could just pursue a cheaper free agent if they can’t get two top-of-the-rotation starters. Jon Garland is an option; so is Oliver Perez.
If the Braves don’t add two starters, they could turn to outfield help. Pat Burrell is an option if they can afford him. Raul Ibanez might make more sense. If they really want to spend, Adam Dunn is possible. Bobby Abreu might be looked into. Through trade, Jermane Dye and Magglio Ordonez are options if they are avialable. Overall, it looks like the Braves will be a solid team next year, but 2010 is the time where they will be really good because their prospects will be in the majors, and Tim Hudson would be back from injury.
After losing in the first round, the White Sox will try to improve their ball club for a run at 2009. The weakest link on this team is speed. The only problem is that there is no place to add it. All positions are locked in except second base (and third base if you don’t think Josh Fields can handle it). The only speedy second baseman available is Brian Roberts. I don’t know if the White Sox have the pieces to get him, though. Maybe Aaron Poreda and Fields would be enough. With not many contenders in need of a second baseman, and with the possibility that the Oriols could get nothing but draft picks when he leaves, they might have to take it. If the Sox can’t grab him, they could trade for Willy Tavares. They had interest in him in a possible Jon Garland trade back in 2006. Where would he play though. If they found a way to trade Paul Konerko I could see it, but that’s a bad contract and he has a no-trade-clause. Coco Crisp could be a trade target, but the Red Sox might want to keep him as insurance for JD Drew and Mike Lowell. David DeJesus is available, but there are the same problems there are with Tavares. If I squint, I could see the Sox trading Jermane Dye. Maybe to a team like the Braves for a ton of prospects. Then they could turn some of the prospects around in a trade for Brian Roberts, and also trade for Willy Tavares and platoon him with Brian Anderson. Nick Swisher would move to right field, replacing Dye. Or, maybe instead they look to trade Gavin Floyd for Brian Roberts and then sign a starter like Derek Lowe to replace him. I could see them in the market for a starter, even if they don’t trade Floyd, and then trade Jose Contreras. Frankly, I have no idea what they will do, but they’ll do something.
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