Decade Retrospective: Top 5 Trades
Atlanta Braves Top Five Trades of the ‘00s
January 15, 2002 – Braves trade Andrew Brown, Brian Jordan & Odalis Perez to Dodgers for Gary Sheffield
Sheffield proved to be the huge power hitter the Braves were looking for, posting a .916 OPS in 2002, and a 1.023 OPS in 2003, when he finished 3rd in the NL MVP voting. Also in 2003, Sheffield posted a career high with 37 doubles, and the 155 games he played in was the second highest total of his career. Unfortunately, Sheffield faltered in the playoffs, combining to hit .100 in the Braves 2 series losses to the Giants & Cubs. Sheffield signed with the Yankees following the 2003 season, and was the runner up for the 2004 AL MVP trophy. As for the men traded to LA for Sheffield, Brown reached the majors in 2006 with Cleveland and has thrown 86 2/3 innings of 3.84 ball as a middle reliever. Jordan went on to play 5 more seasons in the majors, but was never able to reach the star status he did early in his career in Atlanta. He actually returned to the Braves for the 2005 & 2006 seasons and received limited playing time while struggling with the bat. The big name the Dodgers received was young prospect Odalis Perez, who has bounced around the majors, ranging from pretty good to pretty bad as a starter. He spent the 2008 season with the Nationals, and after hilariously refusing to report to camp after signing a contract, was released by the Nationals and spent 2009 out of baseball.
December 13, 2003 – Braves trade Ray King, Adam Wainwright and Jason Marquis to Cardinals for JD Drew and Eli Marrero
This one stings in hindsight, but bear with me here. After the loss of Sheffield to free agency, the Braves needed to replace his bat in right field, and they certainly did with JD Drew. Drew was only a Brave for one season, but it was one heck of a season, as he played in 145 games, one off his career high, and posted a 1.006 OPS, the second highest mark of his career. Drew also bopped a career high 31 homers, and scored an obscene 118 runs, which was 4th in the National League. Drew finished 6th in the NL MVP race, and was rewarded with an absurdly rich contract by the Dodgers after the 2004 season ended. Drew was a prime reason the Braves won the NL East that season, but his playoff performance, like Sheffield’s wasn’t too good, as he OPSed only .533 in a first round loss to the Dodgers. As for Eli Marrero, he had a career year in Atlanta, functioning as a platoon outfielder. In 250 at bats, Marrero OPSed .894, which is more than 100 points higher than his previous career high. Marrero played all 3 outfield spots for the Braves, and gave the team a fantastic bench player. Think Matt Diaz, but a few years earlier. The pieces that went the other way…yeah, it stings a little bit. Ray King spent 2 effective years as a Cardinal with a 2.91 ERA in 2004 and 2005, though his 2005 was largely a smoke and mirrors effort due to a horrifically low strikeout rate. King would bounce around the majors the next 3 seasons before being out of baseball in 2009. Jason Marquis became a full-time starter for the Cardinals, and posted an ERA of 3.71 for the NL champion Cardinals in 2004. He has since not posted an ERA under 4 pitching for the Cardinals, Cubs & Rockies but is poised to get a big payday this winter for some odd reason. Adam Wainwright is the real loss in the deal, as he closed out games for the 2006 World Champion Cardinals in the playoffs, and is an absolute ace pitching in the rotation currently. In his 3 seasons as a full-time starter, Wainwright has not had an ERA above 3.70 and has a 2.65 K:BB ratio. He also won a gold glove in 2009, and finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting.
December 16, 2004 – Braves trade Dan Meyer, Charles Thomas and Juan Cruz to the Athletics for Tim Hudson
The Braves needed an ace pitcher for the 2005 season, and got it in Hudson. All it cost the team was some spare parts. Hudson has been a quality #2 for the Braves with the exception of his aberrational 2006 season. In his 5 years with the Braves, Hudson has posted an ERA under 4 in 4 of them, though 2 seasons were shortened by injury. While Hudson is no longer striking out as many batters as he did early in his career in Oakland, he’s still showing excellent command of the strike zone and has kept his walk rate at or below 3.00 for his tenure in Atlanta. Unlike the first 2 trades on the list, Hudson signed an extension with the Braves soon after the trade. He also signed another extension this fall and will be with the team for 3 more seasons. What went to Oakland? Prospect Dan Meyer was the most highly regarded of the three players, and after 2 horrendous years with the A’s, he was waived and picked up by the Marlins where he was an effective setup man in 2009. Thomas only got 55 plate appearances with the A’s after a shockingly effective 2004 with the Braves and is no longer in baseball. Cruz was the most established of the trio, and he spent one really bad year in Oakland before being traded to Arizona. After 3 continuously improving years in the desert, he signed as a free agent with the Royals, where the wheels fell off again.
December 7, 2006 – Braves trade Horacio Ramirez to the Mariners for Rafael Soriano
Oh yeah, this worked out pretty well. Soriano was a flamethrower for the Mariners who had some injury issues early in his career, but posted a 2.25 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 60 innings in 2006. So naturally, the Mariners first response was to dump him on the Braves. Soriano shined with the Braves, taking over midseason as the team’s closer following the implosion of Bob Wickman. In 2007, Soriano threw 72 innings, striking out 70 and saving 9 games. The Braves were geared up for Soriano to be the closer in 2008, but elbow issues limited him to only 14 highly effective innings. After some minor elbow surgery, Soriano kicked things into high gear in 2009, and pitched in a career high 75 2/3 innings, striking out an obscene 102 batters and saving 27 games. Soriano just accepted the team’s offer of arbitration, but it is unknown whether or not he’ll be traded before the season begins. Even if the team only gets 2 great seasons out of Soriano, it is still a great trade. Why do you ask? The Braves only gave up Horacio Ramirez, a light throwing starter who somehow managed to succeed with the Braves despite walking almost as many as he struck out. The crappy peripherals caught up with Horacio, as he’s posted a 6.32 ERA the past 3 years pitching for the Mariners, White Sox, and Royals. Ramirez has been a reliever the last 2 years, and has logged 60 innings.
October 29, 2007 – Braves trade Edgar Renteria to Tigers for Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez
You knew this was coming, and it’s probably the best trade on this list. Jair Jurrjens is one of the best young pitchers in the National League, and is only improving at the age of 23. After struggling in a brief 30 inning stint with the Tigers in 2007, Jurrjens was shipped off soon after the World Series ended. He has thrived in Atlanta, with a 3.10 ERA the past 2 seasons and a 27-20 record. Quite simply, he’s been the one lock, the one sure thing, in the Braves rotation the past 2 years with all of the injuries and new faces. The pitching starved Tigers would love to have him back right now. Gorkys Hernandez is a light hitting outfielder who spent a year and a half in the organization before being packaged with Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton to acquire Nate McLouth from the Pirates. He spent 2009 struggling with AA pitching. And finally, our old buddy Edgar Renteria…well, he spent one year in Detroit, and last season, he was a Giant. He, erm, OPSed .669 over those 2 seasons and made $18 million. One heck of an investment there for the Tigers and Giants.
That does it for this Decade Retrospective, I hope you all enjoyed a walk back through memory lane. I'll keep my eyes affixed to the rumor wire so you don't have to. Take care.
So here's my sexy new feature: a look at some of the highlights of the past decade of Braves baseball. Everything covered in these entries will be from 2000-2009. I'll cover things like trades, free agent signings, hitters, pitchers, etc. We're gonna start things off with the TOP FIVE TRADES of the decade. There were a few that could have made the list but didn't, and it was a tough call. But without any further ado...