Whatever else happens this offseason, you can count on the Braves reducing payroll. That will happen without them lifting a finger, considering the salaries of the players who are free agents. Expect all of the club's free agents to be replaced by younger (cheaper) players.
The roster intrigue centers on whether one or both of the Jones boys, Chipper or Andruw, should be traded.
Andruw just won his sixth consecutive Gold Glove award; manager Bobby Cox is fond of saying he saves at least one run a game, sometimes two.
Andruw showed flashes of patience at the plate in 2003, to the immense relief of hitting coach Terry Pendleton, but none of those flashes came in the postseason. He'll be 27 near the beginning of the 2004 season; can he still become a better hitter, or is this as good as is gets?
One thing there is no doubt about is that Andruw gets chunkier every year. It runs in the family, and he has not shown an inclination so far to dedicate himself to getting in better shape.
The other Jones, Chipper, isn't bad enough in left field to be called a defensive liability; he's average. His offense has been critical during the regular season, but he, too, disappeared in the Division Series. Literally. After failing to deliver at the plate, he left the ballpark without speaking. As trade material, though, Chipper seems to have limited value, given his age and salary.
NEWS AND NOTES
--RHP Russ Ortiz's $6.2 million option was picked up by the Braves.
--LHP Mike Hampton won his first Gold Glove award, ending teammate Greg Maddux's 13-year run as the National League's best fielding pitcher. Hampton won a Silver Slugger award last week, making him the first pitcher to both awards in a season. Hampton had two home runs and eight RBI to go along with his .985 fielding percentage. Hampton committed only one error in 68 chances.
--CF Andruw Jones won his sixth consecutive Gold Glove with a .993 fielding percentage. He committed three errors in 401 total chances. Considering that he poaches into both left and right field, that's even more impressive.
--RHP John Smoltz has been named the Marvin Miller Man of the Year by the major league players in the Players Choice awards.
--RF Gary Sheffield finished second to Albert Pujols for the Players Choice National League Outstanding Player.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13 -- Consecutive years Greg Maddux had won the National League Gold Glove before Mike Hampton won it this year.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I felt comfortable from the first day I walked into the clubhouse." -- Russ Ortiz, on being traded to the Braves from the Giants.
Braves Notebook - 11/19: Trade-A-Jones?
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