Frank Wren’s modus operandi to the 2010 offseason: Replace younger, healthier players with older, more injury prone players. He’s not a doctor, but he plays one in real life. Actually, I’m not here to pick on Wren. You can make arguments for all of his acquisitions this offseason. But seriously, this is getting weird.
Last week Wren traded Javier Vazquez and essentially replaced him with Tim Hudson. Hudson threw a grand total of 42 innings last season for the Braves, and it was enough to convince him to re-sign him to a 3-year/$28 million deal. That pretty much sealed Vazquez’s fate as a Brave, as no one was interested in picking up Derek Lowe’s ugly contract. Vazquez has thrown over 200 innings the past four seasons, averaging 5.3 WAR per season during that span. Hudson has been a 5+ WAR pitcher four different times over his career, and the success rate of Tommy John surgery is pretty good. This might work out just fine, and at least the Braves got a decent return for Vazquez.
The Braves also replaced 30-year-old Rafael Soriano with 38-year-old Billy Wagner, who is also is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Soriano was a 2 WAR reliever in 2009 but has a checkered injury history of his own. Still, he showed us last season what he is capable of. Soriano surprisingly accepted arbitration, but the Braves had no trouble finding a taker for his services, swapping him to Tampa Bay for Jesse Chavez.
Now the Braves are replacing Adam LaRoche with Troy Glaus. Glaus is reported to have signed for a $2 million deal, with incentives. The deal is pending a physical, but the well-respected Dr. Lewis Yocum has already given the thumbs up on Glaus’ surgically repaired shoulder to interested parties. It’s worth noting that it was more than just Troy’s shoulder that limited him to just 14 games last season; he also experienced troubles with his back.
Glaus will play first base with the Braves, which should help health-wise. When he’s right, he is plenty productive. Over his career, his wRC+ is 123, and in his last healthy season Glaus posted a 131 wRC+ with the Cardinals in 2008. For the money, this is a nice upside play in an iffy 1B market for Wren and Co. On the flip-side, they’re obviously showing that they are not counting on a whole lot from Glaus.
I’m seeing a lot of roster-churning going on, but I’m not sure I’m seeing a lot of progress. If anything, it looks like they’ve taken a step back. Jason Heyward could go Cameron Maybin on the Braves, Matt Diaz may not be able to handle regular duty, and Glaus, Wagner and Hudson are all too familiar with the disabled list.
The Braves were in shouting distance of the wild card last year. If they want to send Bobby Cox out a winner, filling their needs with a bunch of injury-risks in hopes of improving seems like an “interesting” way to go about accomplishing that task. Considering some of the alternatives, it might have been the best, but definitely not the safest approach. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.