LONG BEACH— So this appears to be the final nail in the coffin. Smoltz is on the verge of departing for the Boston Red Sox. And for only $5.5 million.
The Braves longest tenured player ended last season early needing shoulder surgery. Should surgery for a pitcher is a pretty tough thing to come back from. But the Braves kept saying they were hoping he’d come back healthy. They just wanted to make sure he was healthy before they signed him.
Entering this off-season Frank Wren held a large shopping list. He needed starting pitching. He needed a home run hitter. In his words, he needed “two veteran starters to put at the front of the rotation and an outfield bat.”
Frank Wren failed last season to address the starting pitching problems when he opted to sign Tom Glavine and call it quits. He passed on the chance to trade for Dan Haren. Such a move would have helped last season as well as this up coming season, as the shopping list would be much smaller and more managable.
From here Frank Wren proceeded to get pretty much slapped around all off season. He stated a desire to reinvest in Mike Hampton. Hampton left for less money to play with the Astros. He stated a desire to sign Tazawa, the young Japanese pitcher with promise. Tazawa used the Braves bid to get more from the Red Sox. He worked to get a deal for Jake Peavy. The Padres kept trying to squeeze blood from Frank “the Turnip” Wren. Wren backed away. He focused his attention on A.J. Burnett, who promptly used the Braves offer to get what he desired from the Yankees. Frank had hinted he was interested in Dempster, who then re-upped with the Cubs. And there was the much publicized falling out of Furcal.
And now there is this. John Smoltz, my favorite Braves player, is leaving to sign a realitively cheap contract with the Red Sox.
Oh yeah, all of Frank’s shopping list was going to be easy because the Braves had money to spend and not even the economy was going to detter them.
So far the Braves have acquired a veteran who shouldn’t be at the front of a rotation and signed two bench players. I don’t blame Smoltz for leaving. The Braves just aren’t winners any more.