A few random thoughts and rumors for today:
- Let's start with some pretty juicy rumors from Jayson Stark's latest Rumblings and Grumblings column:
- First, he says that it's "all but certain" that Tim Hudson will return for the 2010 campaign. I didn't think there was much doubt that (at the very least) Huddy's option would be exercised, but I'm still hoping we see Tim get some kind of multi-year extension, preferably one which defrays the cost of his $12 million option next year.
- Then, he says: "But no, that doesn't mean the Braves will look to trade Javier Vazquez. Clubs that have felt out the Braves on this came away with the feeling they're more likely to deal someone like Jo-Jo Reyes than Vazquez or even Kenshin Kawakami, unless they're offered a legit middle-of-the-order bat in return." This makes a ton of sense in my mind. The Braves need a middle-of-the-order stick, but there just isn't an obvious match in terms of a true superstar hitter that would be available in return for just one year of Vazquez. And I don't know that a contending team can afford to trade its best pitcher, no matter how much depth it thinks it has. I like Jo-Jo Reyes as a trade piece; could a package of Reyes and either Martin Prado or Kelly Johnson bring back a relief arm? Not sure how much I'd want to trade Kawakami either, as Stark mentions, given that he (like Vazquez) seems to be underrated to people that haven't followed him closely all year.
- Finally, Stark tells us that it appears unlikely that either Rafael Soriano or Mike Gonzalez will return to the Braves in 2010. Makes sense to me...bullpens can be built from cheaper parts, and both Sori and Gonzo have seriously worn down over the course of the season, suggesting that both could have injuries looming on the horizon.
- It's funny to me how seemingly all the news headlines (including the one here on C-n-C) surrounding Bobby Cox's contract extension seem to focus on the fact that Cox will retire following the 2010 season. To me, it's just as relevant that Cox will be returning to manage the 2010 Braves, because whatever your thoughts about Cox, his presence definitely has an impact on the team. Do we think it's a good thing to have Bobby back for next year?
- On that last question, I have to say I'm a bit torn. Cox is a great clubhouse manager, probably the best in baseball history. He knows how to make players want to work hard for him, and the players absolutely love playing for him. That can't be underestimated. At the same time, though, I shudder to imagine Cox handling precious young arms like Craig Kimbrel, Cory Gearrin, and Kris Medlen out of the bullpen.
- I think there are two equally significant pieces of news that came along with the announcement of Cox's extension: first, that the entire coaching staff will return along with Cox. I may be reading too much into the situation, but that seems to me an indication that the Braves will look internally for Bobby's replacement. I happen to think third-base coach Brian Snitker would be a fine choice, but certainly hitting coach Terry Pendleton, bullpen coach Eddie Perez, and perhaps even first-base coach Glenn Hubbard will receive consideration. After John Schuerholz's replacement was tabbed from within, I don't think you'll see the Braves hire an outsider to replace Cox. Also, it's important to note that Cox will remain with the team in a presumably upper-level advisory role. It would be priceless to have his continued presence in the clubhouse (he lives in Atlanta, so there would be no trouble for him to attend plenty of games), while keeping him away from in-game decisions.