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Final Notes on the Trade

Here are some final thoughts/notes on the LaRoche/Gonzalez trade, which is now officially a week old.

I had initially speculated that Mike Gonzalez could be flipped for a lead-off man and another bullpen body, but that seems less likely by the day. The Braves would have to get a lead-off man like Chone Figgins or Melky Cabrera (who many of you doubt) and another bullpen arm in return like Scott Proctor or Scott Shields. One scenario could also have us sending Gonzalez to someone like the Yankees along with Salty or Escobar to the D-Rays in exchange for the long-coveted Rocco Baldelli. The Yankees would also send prospects to the D-Rays. But that is pure speculation on my part (so please repeat it elsewhere, everywhere - ha, ha - mainly so DOB has to dismiss it as nonsense). But a trade for Baldelli or any other outfield option got even less likely after we signed Craig Wilson. Not only because he projects to play everyday in left field, but also because his salary likely brought us as close to our cap as we can get. I count our current salary at just under $80 million (see Cot's Baseball Contracts).

Jeff Sackman has a great breakdown of the trade over at The Hardball Times. I especially liked his take on Jamie Romak:

He's proven he can take a walk, and he's hit for good power in the low minors, but he hardly registers as a prospect in the deep Braves system. For Atlanta, Romak is the kind of guy you use to get a deal done, then forget about him.

I know there are some of you who really liked Romak, but Jeff is right, he's not that special when compared against many of the other players in the Braves system.

Over at Sabernomics, J.C. seems torn as to whether or not we can replace LaRoche's production, and he argues that we should do it with Willy Aybar not Scott Thorman:

This deal has the potential to have one big side benefit. The word is that Scott Thorman is going to replace LaRoche at first. I don't have a problem with Thorman, but I would prefer to see Chipper move to first and allow Willy Aybar to become the everyday third baseman. Chipper will have to field fewer balls, and I think the position will keep him healthier. A healthier Chipper would be a big boost to the offense. Chipper is also probably a defensive upgrade over LaRoche. Aybar is probably a defensive upgrade, and he's certainly an offensive upgrade over Thorman. The Braves should take this opportunity to make the switch before the season starts. If this happens, then I think it's definitely a good deal.

Like most everything else in the baseball world we are going to have to wait until the season is underway to really see what the impact of this trade will be. I really do think it will help both teams. Pittsburgh is a young team that needed something its farm system was not producing - a left-handed power bat. And the Braves thought they needed more of what they lacked last year - shut-down relief pitching. The question about the bullpen should be did the Braves go overboard in their zeal to avenge the languid pen of last year? Will 2007 be too much bullpen and not enough of the rest of it?

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