The Atlanta Braves went into the 2012 MLB Winter Meetings with several needs: replacing Michael Bourn in center field and at the top of the batting order, finding a regular left fielder with some pop in his bat, and solidifying the bench. Well, one out of a handful ain’t bad?
The Braves had settled one of those problems before the meetings even began when they signed free agent center fielder B.J. Upton. While Upton is going to be a nice replacement for Bourn in center, he’s not really a prototypical leadoff hitter. Even after this signing, the Braves still had plenty of money to flash in Nashville at the Winter Meetings.
So what was done? An announcement of a contract with infielder Paul Janish that had actually been signed earlier in the off-season, and extending manager Fredi Gonzalez‘s contract through 2014.
That couldn’t be all, could it?
Yes, so far it absolutely is.
Braves GM Frank Wren was asked about what the plan was at the leadoff spot if they weren’t able to acquire someone at the meetings. Know what the first two names he threw out there were without missing a beat?
Juan Francisco and Jose Constanza.
Seriously? Francisco and Constanza? Nothing against either of those guys, but we’ve seen this movie in Atlanta and we know how it ends. Neither one of them are likely to be the dynamic leadoff hitter that will put the Braves over the hump they’ve been struggling with the last two seasons. And Constanza hasn’t shown yet that he’s ready to be an everyday left fielder.
I just simply can’t understand why Wren seems so content with the status quo when clearly that plan just didn’t get it done in the past. I realize that the Braves don’t want to go out and spend money just for the sake of spending it, but for goodness sake there were a LOT of quality players available who the Braves could have picked up, even if it meant trading them for a piece they needed.
When a leadoff hitter and quality left fielder are your two biggest liabilities (and believe me, for the Braves those are both huge liabilities right now) why would you seem satisfied sending out some of the same names that were barely good enough for you in the past?
So how about the bench? Wren and Gonzalez both seemed settled on wanting to re-sign Reed Johnson, and then even threw out the names Eric Hinske and Matt Diaz again.
Oh boy. (Facepalm…again)
At least TRY something different. Even if it fails, it at least gives fans the impression that you wanted to shake things up a bit.
If Francisco and Constanza are the Braves contingency plan for a leadoff hitter (and left fielder in Constanza’s case), and no real new names are being considered for the bench, then there really was no plan made at all in my opinion.