of Transaction Analysis."> of Transaction Analysis.">

Transaction Analysis: Arbitration Edition

<B>Greg Maddux, Javy Lopez, Gary Sheffield, and Vinny Castilla</B> are among the 9 players that the Braves refused arbitration to before last night's midnight deadline. Andrew Bare analyzes all of the Braves moves in his <I>"Arbitration Edition"</I> of Transaction Analysis.

• Did not offer salary arbitration to OF Gary Sheffield, C Javy Lopez, 3B Vinny Castilla, LHP Kent Mercker, RHP Darren Holmes, RHP Shane Reynolds, RHP Roberto Hernandez, OF Darren Bragg, and 1B Matt Franco, effectively ending their Braves' careers.
• Offered salary arbitration to 1B Julio Franco
• Re-signed RHP Jaret Wright to a one-year contract.

It is said that generals always fight the last war; so intent are they on avoiding the mistakes of the past and exploiting the lessons of the last conflict they often forget that this war is a completely different from the last.

So it is with John Schuerholtz, who is evidently so traumatized from his experience with Greg Maddux last year that he's making extra extra sure he won't be caught in THAT trap again. This is fine and perfectly understandable, except that it's not fine and it's not really that understandable.

I've seen ACC officiating crews display more wisdom than Schuerholtz shows here. There is an absolutely miniscule chance that Gary Sheffield would except a one year arbitration deal considering that he's got a 3 year contract from the Yankees in his back-pocket.

And if he does except arbitration, the Braves are "stuck" with one of the game's best hitters at a position where they have no real alternatives. Now, not only do the Braves not have Gary Sheffield, but the one aspect of losing him that would have made it slightly more palatable, two draft choices, are also out of reach.

But there is good news.

I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico.

If John Schuerholtz is scared of the 1% chance that Gary Sheffield would accept arbitration, then that's just silly.

If he didn't offer arbitration to Sheffield because Schuerholtz wanted to make an ethical point for his upcoming grievance against the Yankees, then this little moral gambit is likely to backfire. Relying on Bud Selig to bring the hammer down on the Yankees is…well, how about you just insert your own analogy here? More frightening than those two "reasons" is the possibility that the Braves didn't offer Sheffield arbitration because they didn't want to pay the money for the two draft choices they would have reaped. It's a truly ominous thought; if the Braves are entering an era where they can't afford to pay draft choices, than the team is in for a world of hurt in the coming years. The rest of the arbitration moves and signings are fairly mundane. Mercker, Holmes, Reynolds, Hernandez, Franco and Bragg weren't going to be back, and Castilla would have accepted arbitration without a second thought. Bringing The Ageless One back is perfectly acceptable, as he'll make for a nifty little platoon with Adam LaRoche next year.

The Wright contract is perfectly acceptable, even without taking into account his excellent performance for Atlanta last year. Wright's still got exceptional stuff, as anybody who watched him in the LDS last year can attest, and he's worth an $850,000 try-out.

The one other move here worthy of more than a passing mention is the end of Javy Lopez' tenure with the Braves. He got overlooked on those 95-03 teams because of the talent around him; when Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Chipper Jones are all on the same club it's hard to get a lot of publicity. He was never particularly flashy off the field and didn't talk a lot to the press, though the latter certainly wasn't because he was a jerk.

Lopez was a flawed player on the field, but then again most players are. He had that unique ability to frustrate and awe in the same at-bat, sometimes in the same swing. He swung at everything but never struck out all that much, and he managed to hit for a high enough average that his OBP was acceptable.

His calling card was power, and he had that in spades. The 2003 season was simply sublime; his May-June stretch was one of the more awesome non-Bonds/McGwire power displays that I've ever seen. He wasn't just hitting homeruns or hitting long homeruns; he was hitting massive, line drive homeruns that should have killed a fan or two in left field.

His career .502 slugging percentage ranks him 86th on the career list, and that's as a catcher. He gave the Braves nine years of admirable service and he'll be missed.

Atlanta Dugout Top Stories