Even though the Braves added another prospect to the deal for Mark Teixeira (Beau Jones), I won’t revisit that one today. Instead, I’ll quickly go over the deals for Octavio Dotel and Royce Ring.
Considered by many to be the best reliever on the market, Dotel put in 23 solid innings for Kansas City this year, which was probably enough to prove that his stuff has returned. The Braves will be on the hook for somewhere between $1-2M of his salary, and I’m not sure how the teams worked out his performance incentives (up to $2.25M this year and next). He has a $5.5M player option for ’08, and if he’s one of the best relievers out there, that will be worth it.
It’s nice to have a big-time strikeout guy in the late innings, and Dotel is certainly that. Then again, so is Rafael Soriano, so I guess it’s nice to have two of those guys. The weak half of the rotation has forced Bobby Cox’s hand in the late innings, and a number of the Braves’ incumbents in the bullpen have been overworked tremendously as a result. Dotel will relieve some of the pressure on everyone in late-inning roles.
The Braves gave up Kyle Davies, a pitcher in whom many people still saw tremendous potential. Unfortunately, the Braves had to choose between winning and allowing him to grow into that potential, and I think they made the right choice. Teams like the Royals have to take chances on guys like Davies, while the Braves don’t.
Ring was a first-round draft choice a few years back by the Mets, out of San Diego State. He has always had potential as a hard-throwing lefty reliever, but he hadn’t put it together until 2006, when he spent most of the year between Norfolk and New York. The Mets traded him anyway last fall, in the same deal that sent Heath Bell to the Padres.
This year, Ring had an ERA under 2 for Portland, the Padres’ AAA affiliate while striking out 44 in 31 2/3 innings. He struggled with his control after getting called up to San Diego, and he’ll start with the Braves in Richmond. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him in September, and possibly in the postseason.
The Braves gave up Wil Ledezma, which wasn’t a big deal since he was already DFA’d, but they also gave up Will Startup, who had some very solid numbers in his minor league career. He’s also 3.5 years younger than Ring, so I’m a bit perplexed at this one. I guess it came down to his scouts’ opinions of the players involved, so perhaps the Braves see more in Ring than they did in Startup.
The New Roster
Here’s what the Braves’ lineup, bench, and bullpen will probably look like for the immediate future:
3B C. Jones
CF A. Jones
1B Julio Franco
INF Chris Woodward
C Corky Miller (called up instead of Brayan Pena)
The two non-starting platoon players
Rotation: Smoltz, Hudson, James, Carlyle, Reyes
And what about Scott Thorman? He’s out of minor-league options, so the Braves will have to DFA him unless they want to keep three first basemen on the bench. I thought he might be part of a deadline deal, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Right now the Mets have a 3.5 game lead on the Braves, and the injury-ravaged Phillies are a half-game up for second place. The next two months should be fun.