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braves-thinking-about-finley | December | 2007 Articles

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Braves Thinking About Finley

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I know the Braves are looking for a veteran center fielder but are they really thinking about Steve Finley. According to Mark Bowman, they are. Apparently, Bobby Cox ran into the 42-year old center fielder at the winter meetings and the two exchanged pleasantries. To me, the chances of this happening seem to be slim to none, however Bowman quoted an unnamed Braves official as saying that he thought Finley was out of their price range, so obviously the thought has crossed their minds. What I really don't understand is how Finley is out of the team's price range. Bowman suggests that the Braves could be interested if Finley took a one-year $1.5 million deal and I'm just not sure how the 42-year old Finley, who hit .181 before being cut by the Rockies last season is asking or it's assumed that he'll be asking much more than that. The only way I see Finley with the Braves next year is if the 5-time Gold Glover accepts a minor league deal and an invitation to spring training next year. I really can't see the Braves or any team for that matter guaranteeing Finley any amount of money after the atrocious numbers he put up last season. Don't take that as me being totally against him though. Count me in the group that isn't completely sure he doesn't still have a little gas in the tank. Finley was decent as a fourth outfielder for the Giants in 2006 (.246/.320/.394) and is only three seasons removed from an '04 campaign in which he hit 36 home runs. Obviously he isn't really close to being considered a lock for even the same production he had in '06, but if there isn't any downside, it's worth a shot to see what he can do. Even if Finley could give us the same production as his '06 season, I'd be willing to give him the job. You're probably shaking your heads and re-checking the numbers I wrote earlier but hear me out. The Braves outfield as it stands right now, will consist of Jeff Francoeur, Matt Diaz, and some combination of the following; Josh Anderson, Gregor Blanco, Willie Harris, Brandon Jones, and Jordan Schafer. When I look at that list, the thing that stands out to me is the absolute lack of veteran leadership and if the Braves are serious about turning over the job to Jordan Schafer around mid-season, then that could be a problem. If you bring in Finley and shift him to the bench at that point, you've got a player, who Schafer has been likened to, mentoring him. Having a resource like him for Schafer seems to off-set the difference in offense between him, if he can return to a somewhat respectable level, and Anderson. Of course this is all assuming that he'd come to spring training without a guarantee and that he could revert to his previous production. Maybe it's just a pipe dream but if we can, why not give him a shot?

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