Standing On the Shoulders of Giants In Center

LONG BEACH— The Atlanta Braves have some work to do this offseason. That stands for center field as well.

Atlanta was blessed for over a decade to have one of the best defensive centerfielders in the history of the game, roaming around, catching everything that came his way. Andruw Jones was allowed to walk after the 2007 season. This was a sad day in my book. I loved watching him play for the Braves. He was one of my favorites. I would have been even more upset with it had the Braves attempted to make him an offer only to have his agent, Scott Boras, smugly turn it down in an aim to suck every last penny from the Braves. But alas he walked away after having an abysmal season. He landed in the land of the Dodgers and stunk even worse. And the sadness of Andruw playing in a different uniform was quickly consumed by the sadness of Andruw playing like he was finished.

In place of this great Braves icon a platoon of individuals attempted to fill in for him.  Atlanta ran out four fine individuals. All of whom surpassed my expectations. The list of players included rookies Gregor Blanco and Josh Anderson as well as veterans Omar Infante and Mark Kotsay. These four individuals produced rather solid number that were mainly lacking in power. The Atlanta Braves center fielders batted .280 with a .345 on base percentage. These numbers were better than the league average at this position. But the slugging was under .400 pulling in at a .387 clip.  For the team to make it further in the future more production will be needed out of this position.  But I must say, considering what the team lost here, I was pleasantly surprise with the fill-ins.

There are rumors that one of the Braves young prospects will be given the chance to secure the job for next year. His name is Jordan Schafer. Schafer was a rising star in the Braves system after having a breakout season in 2007.  After starting off his professional career hitting .228/.281/.368 he came on strong hitting .312/.374/.513 drawing strong comparisons to the Cleveland Indians Grady Sizemore.

However, he hit a road block at the start of the 2008 season. He was suspended for HGH use, or at least, some sort of affiliation with HGH. There is no test for this substance, so the conviction of use of this substance had to have come from accusations and circumstantial evidence. Nevertheless, Schafer missed the first 50 games of the 2008 season. Upon his return he pressed, and pressed hard.

Schafer’s final tally was .269/.378/.471. These aren’t bad numbers.  Aside from the average, if this were produced in the majors this past season it would have been an improvement. Schafer ended the season hitting .320/.409/.630 in the final month. He has since joined up in the winter leagues to catch up on his missed at bats and prepare for the next season.

There are rumors the Braves might acquire the 2007 NL Cy Young award winner, Jake Peavy. It is unknown what would be required in a trade, but to think Schafer wouldn’t be asked for would be a little unassuming. He is a talent. But the Braves also have a younger very talented prospect in Gorkys Hernandez. However, Gorkys is a few years away from being ready for the majors. If Schafer is included in any trade for Peavy, then it must be assumed that the 2009 starting role will fall back to one, if not all four, of the 2008 center fielders.  In this such scenario, more production will be needed from right field as well as left field.

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6 thoughts on “Standing On the Shoulders of Giants In Center

  1. Tennessee Paul, according to the interview with the Braves GM this week, he says they will not trade a young prospect for Peavy. Of course, he could be stalling while he fixes the deal. Other names considered for trading in order to get Peavy are Escabar and Kelly. What do you think? By the way, I too hated to see Andruw go–especially to the Dodgers.

  2. Although Mr. Peavey’s stated preference is the National League you do know that the Red Sox have become major players in the Peavey sweepstakes, no? There really is no substitute for a top notch farm system with plenty of top rated arms and all around talent let alone very deep pockets! Ha!

    I have a strong feeling they will fill their holes and be celebrating another championship next season!

    You know the owners of the Patriots and the Red Sox were in attendance to watch The Boston Celtics raise their 17th Championship banner into the rafters of the Boston Garden last night and said we will do whatever it takes to do the same next season!

    Tonight though we should all tip our hats for the Phillies!!! Congratulations Philadelphia!!!

  3. Peavy will more than likely will go to an NL team. The Braves have ample money to spend if it were a matter of money. But Peavy is under contract for four more years. Alas, the Braves also have a relatively deep farm system with ample pitching to deal from. For the Red Sox to get Peavy, think about giving up Lester. They’ve already asked for Jurrjens of the Braves, and that didn’t fly. They have a high asking price now, as they should. Why not? When you are under absolutely no pressure to trade the best pitcher in the league you can ask for the first born of who ever comes looking.

    SCMel: I think either Kelly or Yunel will be dealt. I’d imagine it would be Yunel as he seems to be the better of the two. In addition it will probably include four other players. There are about three quality minor league pitchers which could be included.
    Wren’s statement on the prospects covers Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward and Julio Tehran(sp?). These three are something special. The next level includes Freddie Freeman, Jordan Schafer, and others.

  4. Lester is as good a pitcher as anybody in the game right now that wouldn’t even begin to make sense. You’re not comparing Jurrjens to Lester now are you?

    I know Peavey has said NL only but where taking about Boston here TP, the City of Champions!

  5. Jake Peavy.

    Here is the comparison, who was the best starter for the Red Sox? Who was the best starter for the Braves? The Padres have started their conversations of trade with who is the best young player on the ML Club. And yes, it doesn’t make sense. Why would the Braves or Red Sox trade their best starter only to replace him with a more expensive starter who is also great? It doesn’t improve the team what-so-ever.

    Lester is good. But don’t discount Jiar Jurrjens. The kid put up great numbers for his first full season in the majors. Great numbers. If Peavy agrees to go to the AL you will have to restructure his contract. Axelrod, his agent, has said as much. So it will take considerable money to get him for the Yankees or Red Sox. On the other hand, Peavy himself has said he’d even take a discount to pitch for the Braves, and with a no trade clause in his pocket, he is more likely to get what he wants.

    I won’t be surprised to find that Peavy, no “ey”, is not even traded this off season. The Padres don’t have to move him. They can trade him next off season if they like. But I would be surprised to see him go to an AL club considering he has repeatedly stated he doesn’t want to go there, has a no trade clause to block a trade there and has his agent saying that if he does go there he will demand his contract be re-worked to put him in the $25 million a year range for 6 years.

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