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day-1-of-the-post-chipper-era | August | 2010 Articles

2010 Archives

Day 1 of the Post-Chipper Era

Written by Joe Lucia on .

It still feels really weird...everyone is still really shocked, disappointed, and depressed at our fearless third baseman's knee injury...but we need to move on. To start, Chipper is being officially placed on the DL today. To replace him on the roster, Brandon Hicks will be recalled from Gwinnett. I don't expect Hicks to be with the team past this weekend, when Martin Prado is expected to be activated. Once Prado is activated, I expect him to be starting at third base and Omar Infante to be starting at second...the utility role filled by Infante will now be taken by Diory Hernandez, which essentially means that...the Braves have a defensive replacement as a super utility guy. Fantastic. Are there external options to replacing Chipper? Well...not really. The only name I'm really hearing tossed about is Chone Figgins. Omar Infante is essentially Figgins with less speed and a contract that isn't an eyesore. But when you do the number crunching, Figgins would be replacing Hernandez on the roster spot, and Chipper in the lineup. Figgins doesn't provide NEAR the power potential that Chipper does (2010 ISO: .050, career: .092. Yikes), and doesn't have *as* good of a walk rate (11.9% this season, 10.3% career), but he can at least get on base at a decent clip. One overlooked part of Figgins' game is his defense over at third base. In 2008 and 2009, he was fantastic, with UZR/150 number of 17.8 and 17.9 in a pretty large sample size. That alone makes him a huge upgrade over Chipper, who has waffled about from slightly above average to pretty bad over the last few seasons. But the thing is...despite that great defense at third, he's not the HUGE BIG TIME HITTER the Braves will need to replace Chipper. Acquiring Figgins will shift Jason Heyward to the 3-hole in the lineup (which is where he'll probably be once Prado comes back next week). You're replacing, man for man, a former batting champion and league MVP who had a 1.304 OPS this month with a guy who is hitting .405 in August, and still only has an OPS of .922. The thing about that .405 batting average is that its completely unsustainable, due to a .500 BABIP, and that 4.8% walk rate over the month scares the hell out of me. There's also the elephant in the corner that is his contract. He's still got 3 years and $26 million left on his deal with an option for 2014. Is that really the kind of deal the team should be picking up when there are already a few crappy contracts going? I personally say no. Acquiring Figgins would be a short-term fix that doesn't fix a whole lot, and would be a bane on the organization for the next few years. The team has more pressing issues than a player like this. My vote is just to let Infante continue to do his thing in the starting lineup. Its the most economical option, and over the short term, its probably the best option. And one more thing. Anyone advocating moving Troy Glaus or Eric Hinske to third and calling Freddie Freeman up to play first...you're insane and delusional. If you think that either Glaus or Hinske could effectively play third at this point in their careers, you're out of your mind.
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