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Braves Interested in Fuentes

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Frank Wren may not have made his last big splash this off-season. According to Dave O'Brien of the AJC, the Braves are still interested in Colorado closer Brian Fuentes, despite the recent acquisition of Will Ohman. With Mike Gonzalez possibly out until the All-Star break, an acquisition of Fuentes would give Bobby Cox what he has lost with Gonzalez on the shelf; a dominant late-inning lefty reliever. One of the big turn-offs for the Braves is Fuentes' financial obligations, according to O'Brien. Fuentes has enjoyed plenty of success as Colorado's closer the past three seasons, which for a player in his third year of arbitration means a hefty price tag. The southpaw reliever made $3.5 million this past season and through arbitration, that number could quite easily jump to the $5-6 million range. That seems to be money the Braves either don't have or don't want to spend if they're giving up something decent in return. That brings me to my next point; What do the Braves possibly have that the Rockies need? O'Brien mentions that the Rockies are interested in a second baseman and/or a middle-of-the-rotation starters for Fuentes, and along with that comes two names; Kelly Johnson and Chuck James. O'Brien and I both agree on one thing, Kelly Johnson is not going to be traded for a 31-year old closer with one year left before free agency, however Chuck James is where it seems we disagree. O'Brien says that James' name has been rumored, however something seems a little off about that one. We're talking about the Rockies. This is a team that has struggled since their creation to find pitchers who can be productive in the thin air of Coors Field and they are interested in Chuck James? The Royals weren't interested because they doubted his effectiveness in the AL and Kauffman is a pitcher-friendly park. I've got nothing against Chuck James, however he is limited in the kind of environments he would be effective in and bringing an extreme fly-ball pitcher into that park has disaster written all over it. I really can't imagine any way in which the Rockies executives would be interested in him. I just don't see how these two teams would match up. Maybe Jo-Jo Reyes or Jair Jurrjens would draw some interest but I doubt Wren would give either up for a one-year rental. In these type of situations, you can never count out a creative deal, that in a round-about way satisfies each team, however based on the criteria O'Brien listed, I'm not buying this. Count me as very skeptical that anything will get done.

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