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Braves fumble opporunties to flourish

Since we are smack in the middle of football season, which we love with a passion, you may not have paid much attention to news from baseball. The Atlanta Braves, whom we merely like without much passion, announced that centerfielder Andruw Jones would no longer be a part of the team.

Jones' agent, Scott Boras, supposedly told the Braves that it would take $20 million a year for seven years to retain Andruw's services. General Manager John Schuerholz didn't even bother to reply.

Schuerholz long ago learned the lesson taught by the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees. Big money doesn't always correlate with winning the World Series and peanuts for pay won't always put you in the basement.

For my money, and I haven't been to a Braves game in three years, Andruw wasn't worth that kind of money even before he hit .222 this season. I mean, who is? Besides the Braves have big money already tied up in Chipper Jones and pitchers John Smoltz and Tim Hudson. They also want to resign the more consistent Mark Teixeira after next season.

I like Andruw Jones and enjoyed watching him play. He was the supreme centerfielder and could hit the ball a mile ... to left field. He never caught on that major league pitchers are smart and they won't throw you an inside pitch to clobber when they know you will swing at, and miss, anything on the outside.

I have always liked the game of baseball but now it seems more interesting on the amateur level. I had to study the newspaper in depth one morning last week just to know who would be in the major league playoffs. Until I heard that the St. Louis Cardinals fired their general manager, I couldn't even remember who won the World Series in 2006.

Professional baseball seems to be even worse than the NFL and NBA when it comes to roster stability. I don't blame any player like Andruw Jones that puts cash before loyalty and I don't blame any team like the Braves that puts common sense ahead of loyalty to long time players.

While I, too, would take the money from a new team and run, as a fan, free agency has helped diminish my interest in the major leagues. You really do need an almanac to keep up with who is coming or going.

Pitching is always the key to a good baseball team and the Braves want better pitching. I guess they plan to use some of the money saved by not resigning Jones to do that. The problem is that solid pitchers aren't hanging around on every street corner looking for a team.

I still haven't figured out why Sylvania's Macay McBride fell from grace with the Braves. They traded him to Detroit for a no-name lefty whom they cut a week later. They only used McBride as a one out pitcher against left-handed hitters. They never gave him a real chance to develop. That's why any pitchers that the Braves pick up need to already fit into the bonafide category.

How many bonafide arms can the Braves get for $20 million? I don't know. Maybe one?

Web posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007

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