|Ryan Klesko is greeted at home plate by Javy Lopez.|
The Atlanta Braves made no trade deadline moves by July 31st, 1995, while the Los Angeles Dodgers landed starting pitcher Chuck Finley from California in exchange for prospects 1B Bill Ashley and 2B Bill Mueller.
Part of the reason that I made no moves was the fact that we are over-budget and the fact that I would have to trade big pieces for numerous smaller pieces. The big pieces were all putting up big numbers, while I really was limited with my roster flexibility.
The lack of moves would come back to haunt my 1995 Atlanta Braves, as we picked a lousy time to go on a 4-6 skid, while the Los Angeles Dodgers finished the season on a 12-game winning streak. Entering the last game, both teams were tied in first, and the Braves didn't show up in Houston, while the Dodgers won their game against the Giants.
The Los Angeles Dodgers would eventually defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS (in 6 games) while defeating the Chicago White Sox in the World Series, 4-2. The Dodgers' playoff rotation was Tom Candiotti, Pedro Martinez and Finley.
The Braves' playoff streak from 1991-1994 came to an end, as we missed the playoffs with 104 wins... so now we know how the real-life 1993 San Francisco Giants felt like.
Our team depth, minor league depth & our bullpen depth have all taken a hit over time, and their needs definitely need to be addressed.
We have 1B/3B Jason Giambi knocking on the door for playing time, but there has not been any room for him to play with Chipper Jones at third & Fred McGriff at first. I did entertain the idea of Chipper playing short, but long term he would have to move over to third at some point, so I nixed that idea.
McGriff is signed through the end of the 1998 Season, but he can opt out at the end of this upcoming 1996 Season. McGriff currently makes $4.2 million per year, while Giambi is making $128,000 at the moment (the upcoming arbitration hearing will likely bump him to around $153 K).
While I truly love having McGriff on my team, despite his down-year (.272, 22 HR, 104 RBI & .783 OPS) in 1995, he could bring me a few players in return while slashing payroll. I believe Giambi is ready to take over.
Tony Phillips will likely be another roster casualty, he has not lived up to his three-year contract, I sacrificed fielding (playing him in center) for his batting eye (on-base machine), but he has not been on the field the majority of the time, while missing a combined 9 months over the last two seasons. Deion Sanders would become the regular starter again.
Phillips and McGriff are worth $6.8 million combined per year.
I am on the fence with David Justice, unlike Phillips and McGriff, I don't have a quality replacement to take over for him... the best option at the moment is Brian R. Hunter, who I rather have backing up Giambi at first & a quality outfielder in right.
Getting rid of both McGriff and Justice during the same off-season would be a huge loss of power taken out of that lineup, then again Ryan Klesko and Javy Lopez have both stepped up, while I expect big things out of Chipper and Giambi.
Justice currently has a annual salary of $3.4 million.
I actually thought about saving a measly $1.0 million by not offering arbitration to Mark Wohlers, his arm problems are already apparent, plus we all know that they don't get better. The great thing about Out of the Park Baseball is that the computer generator could create a better alternative history for Wohlers, but most often it will likely go down the same destined path. I decided that I will keep him for now as the closer, while Roberto Hernandez will be the 8th Inning setup man.
I decided not to offer arbitration to reliever Mike Stanton, and will save at least $1.3 million (his current salary). I will agree to Mike Timlin and Scott Radinsky's arbitration, although they both have not done much to this point, they do have a real-life track record of being consistent & reliable relievers in the Majors.
Decisions, decisions.... you will have to see what I decided what to do in my next post.