So Long Smoltz…

John SmoltzLONG 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.

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20 thoughts on “So Long Smoltz…

  1. Dont know what to say. Smoltzie was my favorite player ever. This leads me to believe that Chipper may not be back after 2009.

  2. I agree- Frank Wren is not looking good. He looks like a bungler in my opinion.

    Too bad on Smoltz. I loved the guy too. Tom Glavine remains my favorite Brave, but Smoltz is right there with Chipper right behind him. He did such a great job for us over the years. First ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion.

    If Smoltz stays healthy, those Sox are looking strong for next year.

    For the Braves- it’s looking worse and worse. The only glimmer of hope is that Glavine is throwing pain free right now. But that could all change when he gets on a mound. Plus, he may just be at the end of his rope- not sure he’s got 15 wins in him anymore at this age.

  3. I was reading on mlbtr that the Braves are meeting with Derek Lowe today. Could there be an offer made? I would feel a little better if we got him. We still need a left fielder.

  4. I’m skeptical of getting my hopes up for Derek Lowe. I have a hunch he will take whatever offer the Braves make and use it as leverage to get a bettere offer from another team. Even if another team doesn’t offer as much, I could see Lowe going there over the Braves. I’d think at this point in his career, he’d like to be on a team with a strong shot at winning. And this Braves team isn’t fitting that description. At least not without a miracle.

  5. From the Boston Baseball Writers’ 70th Awards Dinner at the Westin Waterfront Hotel in Boston.

    John Smoltz:

    ‘‘I was going to withhold comment until the announcement of my signing with a new team, but I now feel the need to clear up any misconceptions and inaccuracies about the contract negotiations between myself and the Atlanta Braves,’’ he said. ‘‘There were large discrepancies between the offer from the Braves and offers from other teams.’’

    “I have always loved the city of Atlanta, and it will always be my home,” Smoltz said in his statement. “I will cherish my 21 years with (manager) Bobby Cox and all my Braves’ teammates. I continue to wish the Atlanta Braves nothing but success in the future.”

    I’m happy to see Boston taking a chance on such a great great baseball player and class act.

    The Red Sox also signed Cumberland, Rhode Island native and lifelong Red Sox fan Rocco Baldelli tonight!

    “This is a very exciting day for the organization,” GM Theo Epstein said. “We’ve admired Rocco from afar for a long time now as a player and as a person and we think he is a great fit for this organization going forward. Couldn’t be happier to announce the signing here today.”

    The Rhode Island native said it was a childhood dream to play for the Red Sox.

    “My family and friends are as crazy as any other Red Sox fans out there,” Baldelli said. “I know the loyalty that these people here have for this team and it’s really an honor for me to be a part of it.”

    Another 1 year deal for short money that has serious potential as they believe that Rocco may have been misdiagnosed and is starting a new treatment program for his chronic fatigue! Another class act on and off the field for the Red Sox!

  6. Yeah, Smoltz issued that statement to David O’Brien of the AJC earlier this afternoon.

    Frank Wren screwed him over. I typically don’t cheer for the Sox, but I’d like to see Smoltz build on his post season record before he retires. Hopefully he’ll get that shot.

  7. Yeah – good post, Jim. I’m happy for Smoltz – he’s going to play for a good club and get a shot at another postseason. The man is dynamite in the clutch (if his arm holds up). He has to be one of the top 2 or 3 postseason starters of all time.

    Interesting on Rocco. Wonder if they did misdiagnose him? He’s a scrappy player. When he first came up, they compared him to a young Joe Dimaggio. Hasn’t quite panned out that way, but he’s talented nonetheless.

    Agreed, TP. Braves kind of shorted him. What’s up with the Braves?!? The Hawks and the Falcons are leaving them in the dust. This was a one sport town for years. Now the Braves are back in the can after a decade and a half on top. Wren is not helping us.

  8. The Hawks are a nice team, very athletic! They were the toughest series for the Celtics on the way to banner #17 last year!

    How about them Falcons and that stud rookie QB from Boston College!

    I’m sensing a theme here? 😉

    1. Well, they are just asking you to trust them. But so far, it is really hard to trust them when all they’ve done is made a bad team worse. We’ll see. But I think, the closer we get to Spring Training, the more likely it is that Wren will admit he failed in his attempt to build a contender. This team, as is, is not a contender. And it will take considerable deals to get it to that level.

  9. Smoltz is gone. You can bet your boots that Chipper will be playing elsewhere shortly. Cox will retire after ’09. And the Braves will be just another 3rd rate, garden-variety baseball team. Hard to generate any excitement about them now.

  10. CL: That’s about as down as I’ve ever heard you in the past 3 years! I’m bummed but I’m thinking there are reasons to still be optimistic about the future of the team. Maybe not 2009, but beyond that…

    Don’t forget Hanson, Heyward and Friedman. That’s a good trio to have coming up. McCann is still around and it appears Yunel and KJ will be here for a while.

    I hope they retain Chipper. The man said that the Braves were going to approach him about an extension this off-season. He also said they haven’t done so yet, but understands they are trying to rebuild the rotation and outfield right now. I’m hoping they can wrap all this up soon and lock up Chipper.

    There is the rumor of Kawakami (though I am on the fence on what to expect from a 100 inning pitcher) and then the Lowe deal (again, not to sure this will happen either). But, let’s say both of those go through and the Braves pick up a bat… the team might not win it all next season, but they’d certainly be more fun to watch than what my fears think the team will look like.

    At any rate CL, cheer up. There is still time to hope… at least for 2010 🙂

  11. Jim – on point 10, there is definitely a theme. The theme is that Boston may be surpassing New York as the Evil Empire!

    The Boston Bruins are dominating the NHL. The Celtics are dominating the NBA. The Red Sox are gearing up for a great season this year. The New England Patriots were very strong (11-5) and were only held out of the playoffs by the utter single-handed brilliance of Peyton Manning (a UT man and a wonderful quarterback).

    What other city can claim all of these things? I actually wonder if any other city has had all 4 of their teams playing so well at one time (I haven’t looked into it, but I somehow doubt it). At any rate, if this continues, the ire of the sports nation will turn from New York and focus squarely on Boston. Watch-out my friend, it will happen.

    Here’s to the Hawks! I am starting to believe in this team. I think they could be the ones to upset the Celtics in the playoffs. They have played them hard a couple of times this year and that 7 game series last year was great (when the games were in Atlanta, anyway). Time will tell…

  12. #16

    There is a distinct difference in that the Red Sox, etc. all have the same mindset to scout, analyze and develop the talent in the farm system to serve the BIG team and are doing it more successfully than the absolute majority. They all have a, team first approach and that NO player is bigger than the team, which is why these teams are so successful year after year. In addition all of the teams here in Boston, the management, the players, etc. are very supportive of each other right down to being fixtures in the stands at each others games, but you would have to live here to know that. Let’s not forget the Revolution (our soccer tam has played in the Championship game two of the last three years too) Let’s face it guys the Red Sox, The Patriots, The Celtics (and watch the Bruins, now) are the franchises all of the other teams in their respective leagues are modeling themselves after and because their business model and team philosophy is intelligent and successful. I’m sorry but the “Evil Empire” comparison is for the lack of a better word, ignorant.

    I mean what other city can claim the title of the Athens of America. What other city can claim the density of world class education, what other city can claim the density of world class hospitals of every kind, etc? How about in the USA the history, architecture, oh and yeah the world class sports franchises!

  13. PS

    I have and recently so given props to the Hawks. I sad then as I said now they were the toughest team to beat for the Celtics on the way to their 17th Championship last year (17th!)!

  14. Bragging? Clearing up your complete misrepresentation of the Red Sox and stating fact is in no way, shape or form bragging.

    The Red Sox have a very different philosophy in building a winning team than the Yankees. If this off season doesn’t make that clear what does?

    I love sports I live in Boston and I’m very proud and happy of the success of my cities success who wouldn’t be? That the teams are smart, principled and disciplined makes it that mush more enjoyable.

    The issue here seems to me to be jealousy rearing it’s head by misrepresenting the facts and casting out negative labels that just aren’t accurate.

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