The wren is a bird known originally as a cave dweller, with a desire to live in dark spaces, but also for its loud songs. I don’t know if that means anything, though, for Braves’ GM Frank Wren, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
Wren had been John Schuerholz’ #2 man after being unceremoniously shooed out of Baltimore following a one-year tenure as GM which was mostly notable for his signing of Albert Belle to a five-year, $65 million contract. Still, I suppose we don’t know a lot about his tendencies compared to his predecessor.
One thing we know now, after this weekend’s reported trade of Joey Devine for Mark Kotsay and $5 million cash, is that Wren differs from his predecessor in his approach to trade negotiations.
Schuerholz was known, perhaps notoriously, for refusing to discuss potential Atlanta trades, choosing to wait until the trades were actually announced to address them with the media. This already is not the case with Wren, who acknowledged that this trade was in the works before it was finalized.
I don’t know if either approach is right, but what I can say is that this trade doesn’t look great to me on paper. Kotsay has a solid defensive reputation but has been declining offensively since his late twenties. He seems like the type of player who should feel fortunate to be landing a major-league job at all at this point in his career, much less for a contender hoping to (albeit temporarily) replace a potential Hall of Famer.
Devine is a rather large price for a bottom-tier player, especially when the in-house options (Josh Anderson, Brandon Jones if he can handle it defensively, and even Gregor Blanco) aren’t that much worse than the player we’re getting in return. With a sub-2.00 ERA last year in the minors, Devine was a virtual lock to make the bullpen this year, and I would have predicted success for him, though it was not certain.
J.C. weighed in earlier with his thoughts, which are more optimistic than my own. Kotsay does have a career OPS+ of 100, so if he stays healthy and lives up to his defensive reputation, this might not be a bad deal. I just don’t see it. Kotsay’s energy will be nice to have in the clubhouse, and he adds some experience to the roster, but all things considered, I’d rather have Devine.
Is it bad to root for a guy to fail his physical? That’s the only barrier left to this deal, which should be finalized today.