5/18 – Placed 1B Freddie Freeman on the 10-day DL with a broken left wrist.
5/18 – Signed 1B James Loney to a minor league contract.
5/18 – Recalled 3B Rio Ruiz from AAA Gwinnett.
5/20 – Moved RP Chaz Roe to the 60-day DL.
5/20 – Placed RP Eric O’Flaherty on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain.
5/20 – Designated C Anthony Recker for assignment.
5/20 – Traded 1B Juan Yepez to St. Louis Cardinals for 1B Matt Adams & cash.
5/20 – Traded cash to Arizona Diamondbacks for RP Enrique Burgos.
5/20 – Recalled RP Luke Jackson from AAA Gwinnett.
5/21 – Optioned IF Johan Camargo to AAA Gwinnett.
5/22 – Released 1B James Loney from his minor league contract.
It’s been nearly a week, and the Freeman news still numbs me. He’s likely out 10 weeks as the wrist heals, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Freeman was the national league’s best hitter this season, and only Mike Trout matched him league-wide. It’s sad not just for Braves fans, but for baseball fans in general, to see a great player robbed of his chance to put together a career year. Atlanta’s odds of making the playoffs weren’t strong to begin with, so it’s not like losing Freeman really hurts October plans. Instead, it takes away the #1 reason to tune in or show up to SunTrust Park over the next couple of months. It’s tough, to say the least.
The James Loney Era – A Look Back
With Atlanta in full panic mode after losing Freeman, the team signed free agent James Loney to a minor league deal. Loney, who last managed 1 WARP in a season in 2013, went 1 for 7, drew a walk, and apparently got on base via catcher’s interference before he asked for his release 4 days later. That release was granted.
Moving to Atlanta, babe, because Freeman’s now on ice
AAA true average of .276, I suppose that’s pretty nice
With a flick of your wrists, your bat can find hits but you won’t help in a slugfest
But Adonis is nothing special, so among our options you’re best
His name is Rio and he’s prone to getting fanned
And yet he’s a possible cure for our hot corner wasteland
When contact’s made, the BABIP gods do all that they can
Oh Rio, Rio, help Adonis to get canned
We’ve seen you in Buford, now we see you at STP
Of 2 options at 3B, you have a chance at some wRC
Like a tambourine or a kazoo
Compared to Garcia, you make defense seem easy to do
His name is Rio and he throws with his right hand
He’s ending Adonis’ adventures down in Dixieland
And when he plays, the odds of winning slightly expand
Oh Rio, Rio, help Adonis to get canned
Ruiz’s promotion was covered by our own Andy Harris that day. I encourage you to check it out here.
O’Flaherty’s absence really hurts, if you’re a hitter on a team facing Atlanta in the next 10 days. O’Flaherty has a 6.59 ERA, but if you look at Baseball Prospectus’ Deserved Run Average, we see that O’Flaherty has been unlucky, with a DRA of only 6.57. Bad luck has cheated him out of 2 hundredths of a run in ERA, guys!
To make room on the 40-man for a new acquisition, the team DFA’d Recker, who had the best summer of his life with the big league club a year ago. He might get picked up on waivers, but it also wouldn’t be a shock to see him pass through. He’s a good looking fella, but he isn’t very good at the things that help win baseball games, like hitting or playing defense.
The Matt Adams Trade
A much more reasonable 1B replacement for Freeman than James Loney, Adams gives Atlanta a league average-ish hitter. Adams won’t walk much or bat .300, but he has some power, and a .250/.300/.450 profile is useful. It’s more useful on the bench, and after Freeman returns, there should be a home for Adams on that bench. He isn’t particularly versatile; he’s a career 1B who started learning LF this year, where he played it poorly for a bit. I suppose he might be able to do a Matt Kemp impression if Atlanta’s starter needs a day off where he can be a statue on the bench instead of in the outfield. Adams is under team control for next year, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Atlanta eventually package him in some kind of trade once Freeman returns or the offseason arrives.
Gone is Juan Yepez, a corner infielder with a glove not good enough for 3rd and a bat not quite mature enough for 1st. There’s a lot of raw talent in his game, enough for OFR’s Andy Harris to rank him as the team’s #23 prospect in the preseason, but we are years away from finding out if that talent will ever develop.
The Enrique Burgos Trade
Earning far less fanfare than the Matt Adams deal, Atlanta also made a move to pick up relief depth, sending cash to the Arizona Diamondbacks for recently DFA’d reliever Enrique Burgos. The big (6-4, 250) righty has a fastball (96 mph) / slider (90 mph) combo, and he occasionally has some idea where those pitches are going. His control is unplayable, so he’ll remain a tantalizing case of “looking for the right pitching coach”, and he’ll be in need of a change of scenery until he does. Perhaps Atlanta is where it all gets figured out.
Luke Jackson coming up
Jackson has been good at the MLB level, in a tiny sample size. In a larger sample size, he’s been terrible at AAA. There’s a chance he just likes Smyrna a lot more than Buford, though I wouldn’t know why. He’s due for some unkind regression, but if he can put that off for a bit, Atlanta will be pleased.
Johan Camargo going down
Camargo didn’t get many chances at the MLB level, but there’s nothing wrong with the defensively solid middle infielder heading back to build on that nice start he had at AAA, where he is batting .307/.340/.466 to start the season.