I’ve written the Five Questions preview of the Braves over at The Hardball Times. Check it out to see what I think about the upcoming season.
But, after yesterday’s trade of Nick Green, I have an additional question. Why did John Schuerholz acquire Jorge Sosa? I’m a big fan of what Leo can do for pitchers, but Sosa is on the Devil Rays for a reason: he’s not very good. It’s not that losing Nick Green is so bad, but to trade a solid bench player for a pitcher who makes twice the league minimum and puts up AAA numbers is not a good move. What? “Sosa has potential,” you say? Who doesn’t? The guy will be 28 this year, with over 300 Major League innings under his belt. Here are his numbers in the categories I use to evaluate pitchers.
Year FIP K/BB HR/9 ERA+
2002 5.96 0.89 1.45 81
2003 4.89 1.20 0.98 98
2004 5.16 1.74 1.54 81
Car. 5.30 1.27 1.29 87
Not good. I can think of several pitchers in Richmond who have just as much potential at half the price. This is an especially bad move in terms of payroll, because it looks like the Braves are going to have to eat Tom Martin's $900,000 contract. The funny thing is, this trade reminds me a lot of the ill-advised deal for Martin. Here's a guy who's expensive, seems like he should be good, but isn't. All that payroll flexibility gained by signing Mondesi and Jordan, which I praise in my THT article, is not any help if this is how you use it.
I'm really a Schuerholz fan. I gave a thumbs up to the Cappy/Kolb and Meyer-Cruz-Thomas/Hudson deals, praised the Mondesi and Jordan signings, and I even think Millwood/Estrada was a fantastic deal even if Estrada ends up like Paul Bako. This deal stinks. On the bright side, it is just a small mistake --- losing a utility infielder and some cash --- but it's the kind of deal that just ruins my day.
I will admit that I am kind of a Green fan. I understand that he is only a .700 OPS pinch-hitting infielder. But, he was cheap, reliable, and a very good defender (Pinto ranked him the second-best second baseman in the majors last year). I don't care that he had some clutch hits, because I don't believe in clutch hitting as a skill. I just liked Nick Green, and I don't know why. Let's not say good-bye Nick, just see you later. I wish you the best, and I hope you make it back to Atlanta one day. Thanks for saving the 2004 season when all looked lost.