Braves claim Joe Mather, Matt Diaz on way out?
Last week the Atlanta Braves claimed Joe Mather off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals. He is a right-handed player that they had tried to acquire after the 2008 season for Rafael Soriano, which the Cardinals rejected. Mather can provide versatility by playing third base, first base and all outfield positions. He will head into training camp by trying to prove to the Braves that he can be the guy that they envisioned giving Freddie Freeman an occasional day off. Another benefit is his ability to play center field.
Mather was drafted by the Cardinals in 2001. He made his major league debut in 2008 when he hit .241 with a .306 OBP and a .474 slugging % as he hit 8 home runs, knocking in 18 runs and scoring 20 runs. He broke a bone near his wrist. He has undergone two wrist surgeries which has caused him to miss part of two seasons.
He spent the majority of 2010 playing in the minors. He hit .275 with a .348 OBP and .442 slugging % in 91 games. He hit 10 home runs, had 46 RBIs, and scored 55 runs in 335 at bats.
He hit .217 with a .242 OBP and .283 slugging % in 36 games in St. Louis this past season. He had no home runs and only 3 rbis in 60 at bats.
The Braves are hoping that his wrist injury is behind him and that he will again show the promise that he showed in 2008.
The arrival of Mather could signal that the Braves will either non-tender Matt Diaz or try to trade him. He is coming off one of his worst seasons since arriving in Atlanta. He hit only .273 against lefties this past season. This was the worst he had hit against lefties since 2004. Diaz will be entering his final year arbitration. He made $2.55 million this past year. There is no question that he is a defensive liability. But, when he has crushed lefties in the past, he has made up for defensive liabilities. That was not the case in 2010.