I've gotta say that two weeks ago I thought we would have signed someone to play left and bat cleanup by now, but now I still feel we'll keep holding out until later in spring training. In the past couple of days the top two best options for that spot have disappeared off the market. Bobby Abreu signed with the Angels to fill their sixth outfield spot, and Adam Dunn signed with the Nationals to fill their ninth outfield spot. (Honestly, did either of these teams need another outfielder like the one they got?)
The Braves and their fans are now left with that persistent question mark in left, and no real big free agent bats remaining to fill it. Here is what K-Ros has to say about our outfield scramble:
Club officials, major-league sources say, would prefer a left-handed hitter, and are checking into the remaining free agents -- Garret Anderson, Luis Gonzalez, Jim Edmonds and Ken Griffey Jr.
A trade for the Yankees' Nick Swisher also remains possible, but the Braves almost certainly could land one of the free agents for less than the $5.3 million that Swisher will earn in 2009.
I could have sworn we were set with left-handed hitters (KJ, Chipper sometimes, McCann, Kotchman), and that we wanted a righty to slot in between Chipper and McCann or Chipper and Kotchman. Signing one of the available bats he mentions as the centerpiece of our lineup -- Garret Anderson, Luis Gonzalez, Jim Edmonds and Ken Griffey Jr. -- would be tantamount to the mistakes we made last year in assembling our aged and injury-prone starting rotation.
Certainly money can't be the only thing holding up the Nick Swisher trade, but the Yankees don't have to make a trade and can demand more.
This brings me back to my earlier assertion that the Braves will wait until later in spring training to decide how to proceed with their left field vacancy. But if the team is so close to the red line with their budget, why are they even entertaining the possibility of signing Tom Glavine. They've already taken a PR hit with the departure of John Smoltz. Go ahead and take all your hits in one year and jettison Glavine before he costs the team anything.
This is tough situation because the right bat in left field and the middle of the lineup could mean that this team is a true contender in the NL East, but adding Tom Glavine, and all the questions about his healthy and his ability to pitch into his 40's, is not the move that will make this team a true contender in the NL East -- but it will eat up valuable salary room that could be used on that needed bat.