Sunday, August 1, 2010

Welcome to Atlanta, Rick and Kyle!

At Saturday’s 4pm deadline, the Braves announced they traded OF Gregor Blanco, RHP Jesse Chavez and LHP prospect Tim Collins to the Royals for OF Rick Ankiel and RHP Kyle Farnsworth. This wasn’t exactly the blockbuster deal I’m sure a lot of Braves fans were looking for and it still leave some holes, but Frank Wren managed to upgrade the team some for little cost. Let’s take a look at the deal...

Rick Ankiel, the great pitcher-to awful pitcher-to outfielder, has been oft-injured this season and had only seen action in 27 games for the Royals. In that time Ankiel put up a .261/.317/.467 line with 4 home runs and 15 RBI. Definitely not the true power bat that the Braves need, but his 23 ABs/HR this year is certainly an upgrade over Melky Cabrera’s 104 ABs/HR. And while Ankiel’s defense might not be as good as what Nate McLouth offers/offered, no one can be worse than the lack of speed that Melky brings to Turner Field’s spacious centerfield. Ankiel in center allows Eric Hinske to spell Troy Glaus at 1B as Matt Diaz or Melky can now fill in at left. Ankiel has a $6 million mutual option for next year (with a $.5m buyout), so it provides the Braves with possibilities next year if Ankiel performs well these last 2 months and/or Nate McLouth can’t find himself at Gwinnett.

The Braves also added a familiar face in Kyle Farnsworth, who pitched for Atlanta during the final 2 months of the 2005 season. No matter what, Farnsworth is a significant upgrade over Jesse Chavez. I couldn’t be happier to see him gone. While a bit inconsistent, Farnsworth has put up some solid numbers this year in Kansas City. He’s 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in 37 appearances (44.2 IP) while carrying a 1.16 WHIP and a 3.00 K/BB ratio. The power-pitcher brings with him a mid-90’s fastball and while serving as a useful right-handed compliment to Takashi Saito. Farnsworth’s $5.25 million club option ($.25m buyout) for 2011 will likely be a bit more expensive for the Braves will want to pay, but with Wagner retiring and Saito on a one-year contract, it may provide the team with bullpen options next year. Cot’s Baseball Contracts does note that Farnsworth’s contract comes with a stipulation that he can take the buyout if he’s traded before the 2010 World Series, which he obviously was, so that could eliminate the decision that would have to be made next year.

While Atlanta didn’t get the type of power bat that they likely could have, the trade also didn’t cost the team that much. I think every single Braves fan is happy to see Chavez go and while Blanco was effective as a fill-in this year, he isn’t exactly a top prospect, so we were effectively able to ‘sell-high’ on him. Left-handed reliever Tim Collins was an interesting AA prospect after being acquired in the trade earlier this year with Toronto, but the Braves were able to deal from an area of depth/strength due to their other great pitching prospects. Atlanta also received more than $2 million from the Royals to help cover the costs of Ankiel and Farnsworth’s contracts for the rest of the year.

In the end, the Braves didn't snag late-rumored Jacoby Ellsbury or Lance Berkman (who went to the Yankees, along with seemingly every other player in baseball for essentially no cost to the Bombers), but they were able to upgrade their centerfield position while improving their already strong bullpen at a relatively low cost. And who would have thought Frank Wren could find teams to take Jo-Jo Reyes and Jesse Chavez? That’s priceless.

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