If I were the Atlanta Braves General Manager, here are the moves I would try and make this off-season (rosterbation to follow):
1. Sign either free agent A.J. Burnett or Ryan Dempster as your number-one starter. I'd go with Burnett first, even with all the injury history; and I'll leave it to the Braves discretion to determine if Dempster is more than a one-year wonder. As they say at the poker table, 'you can't play with scared money.'
2. Trade for St. Louis left-fielder Ryan Ludwick, using some package built around Kelly Johnson and Blaine Boyer. They apparently want an upgrade at second base and some bullpen help.
3. Trade for Kansas City starting pitcher Zach Greinke, using a package built around Tyler Flowers, Jeff Francoeur, and either Jo-Jo Reyes or Charlie Morton. I'm hoping that Dayton Moore wants one more taste of the old Atlanta Braves farmhands he helped sign.
4. Sign free agent Ken Griffey Jr. to play right field. I'm gonna get a lot of grief for this one, but Griffey is a tireless worker and he knows he'll have to work extra hard to stay in the game. And yes, I think he's got enough left to play the field and hit in the middle of the lineup.
5. Sign free agent lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt; failing that, re-sign Will Ohman. Let's continue to spend more money on the bullpen.
6. Re-sign lefty starter Mike Hampton; failing that, re-sign Tom Glavine. Either of these guys is good for a one year contract and a high risk, high reward gamble.
7. Re-sign right-hander John Smoltz as a bullpen setup/closer type pitcher. You know he'll be ready.
8. Sign Junichi Tazawa to a major league contract, but let him get his feet wet in the minor leagues to begin the season.
And it rosterbates out to this:
1 - CF - Jordan Schafer; failing that, some combination of Gregor Blanco and Josh Anderson
2 - SS - Yunel Escobar
3 - 3B - Chipper Jones
4 - RF - Ken Griffey Jr.
5 - LF - Ryan Ludwick
6 - C - Brian McCann
7 - 1B - Casey Kotchman
8 - 2B - Martin Prado
1 - A.J. Burnett or Ryan Dempster
2 - Zach Greinke
3 - JairJurrjens
4 - Mike Hampton
5 - Jorge Campillo
1 - Mike Gonzalez
2 - John Smoltz
3 - Rafael Soriano
4 - Jeremy Affeldt
5 - Peter Moylan
6 - Manny Acosta
7 - Jeff Bennett
Wow, that's some pipe dream. Still, I think it's somewhat feasible and not out of control speculation. I'm adding one pitcher and one hitter through free agency and one pitcher and one hitter through trades. If we want to try and win next season, then we're going to have to take some risks. </fantansy-land>