So Frank Wren and his staff must be starting to get a complex.
First there was the Jake Peavy situation. It was widely known that the Braves were one of five teams that Jake Peavy would wave his no-trade clause for. They were also the team that had the most valuable pieces to offer. But Padres GM Kevin Towers kept coming back for more and more and the Braves finally said enough. Towers now claims that Peavy likely wouldn’t have waived the no-trade clause for the Braves after all. Shortly after that was the bizarre story that Peavy wanted to be a Cub so much that he was heard chanting “Go Cubs, Go!” at a restaurant. That deal of course fell through, but one gets the feeling that perhaps the Braves were just being used as leverage to get the Cubs more involved.
Next came the AJ Burnett sweepstakes. The Braves made their strongest push for a big free agent in years. So much so that they virtually matched the Yankees offer, which is not easy to do these days. But Burnett eventually chose the Bronx. To his credit, the main reason he did so is that it’s closer to his offseason home and that would make it much easier for his wife to come see him in New York. I respect that decision tremendously and commend him for it.
But that made it another swing and a miss for the Braves as they try to fill their needs this offseason.
That brings us to the Furcal situation. By all accounts, the Braves had a gentleman’s agreement with Furcal’s agents that they had a deal pending a physical. But they have continued to negotiate with the Dodgers anyways, using the Braves agreement as leverage to get the folks in LA to up their offer. Furcal will probably still end up with a tomahawk on his uniform, but the Braves can’t at all be happy with the way these negotiations have gone.
The Braves have been in the thick of some very high level negotiations this offseason, but they’ve come up empty handed. Some say players don’t want to come to Atlanta anymore because of their losing season last year, or because there’s no assurance of how long Bobby Cox will be the manager. And that’s probably true. But regardless of the reason, they’ve been the victim of some dirty dealing this offseason.
Certainly it’s normal for GM’s and agents to do as much as they can pay less or get more, but it seems as though there is usually some kind of code that’s followed in the process. And this year, that hasn’t been the case.
The Braves basically had to have their negotiations for Peavy with the general public thanks the Padres – who made the hole in the Titanic look small compared to the information leaks they had going.
With AJ Burnett, they weren’t really used, but they are still the only reason his contract went as high and as long as it did. So he can thank them for his payday, even if he’s not playing for them.
And now with Furcal, his agents apparently hold to the “our fingers were crossed so it doesn’t count” argument.
So in the prom of life, the Braves have spent a lot of this offseason being the back up date. And if things continue to break against them, they could end just dancing alone awkwardly by the punchbowl.
It’s frustrating to see the way things have played out so far, but whatever happens, Wren and the front office are doing a great job in my opinion. They’re getting creative and trying everything possible. And if they come away empty handed it’s through no fault of their own.