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Hot Stove Rumors Begin to Sizzle Once Again

Let the post-meeting buzzwords be "Adam LaRoche to," and then fill in your team. He is certainly a commodity that the Braves think several teams have interest in, and they are going to try and use him to fill their other needs. The two most important factors here are (1) we STILL have needs at lead-off, second base, left field, and possibly bullpen for a lefty, and the Braves realize they need to plug one or more of these holes, and (2) this is as strong an indication as any that they believe Scott Thorman is capable of handling first base. Now on to the rumors.

The most talked about one seems to be the LaRoche to the Pirates, Gonzo to the Yankees, and Melky Cabrera to the Braves. This seems a bit out of balance with the Braves getting the short end of the stick. With this proposal we're essentially saying that each of these players has equal value, when the one we would be getting has far less experience and is less proven than the other two, and therefore has less real value. It seems that someone like Scott Proctor would even this trade out real fast, and that would satisfy the value that Schuerholz has been trying to get in return for LaRoche all winter - essentially a lead-off guy and an arm - be it Figgins/Shields from Anaheim or Roberts/Penn from Baltimore. I would be wary to trade away LaRoche for just one player like Cabrera - my opinion of Yankees prospects is that they are routinely overvalued because of all the extra hype that comes out of the New York media machine (Navarro, Rivera, Claussen, Thames, Griffin).

The other trade that has crept back into our consciousness is the LaRoche to Baltimore for Brian Roberts rumor. I find any trade that involves the Orioles and Brian Roberts to be a waste of time. Their owner, Peter Angelos, seems dead set on killing any reasonable trade that has Roberts in it. This would lead to him being overvalued and the Braves giving up way too much in return.

Now to Scott Thorman as our everyday first baseman. On the plus side, his second year at every level throughout his career has been much better than his first, so we could argue that he will adjust to the Majors and find some level of success. The negative side is that his true ability to handle the everyday duties is wildly unknown, and the Braves system would seem to be scant of any other Major League ready options at first base. But when LaRoche or Thorman are going to be hitting in the seventh spot in the order, do we really need THAT much production from them. LaRoche may in fact be the best hitter in baseball batting in the seventh spot next year if he's still with the Braves. Another possibility to consider is that trading LaRoche might seriously deplete the power in our lineup. We have to operate under the assumption that Andruw is going to leave next year, and we are therefore left with a power void in the middle of the order - something LaRoche seemed to prove that he could fill last year. So trading LaRoche means that we might lose 80 something homeruns from our lineup in a span of two years.

The more and more I toss it about, the more risky these trades seem to be. I am of the opinion that we should certainly get more in return for Laroche than just a bat, and with multiple suitors for LaRoche's services next year we may be able to play one against the other. A bat plus an arm would be the two items on my wish list - filling two needs while trading away only one player.

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