With every signing that the Atlanta Braves have made this offseason, their budget has gotten smaller and smaller. Although the official number has not been released, Atlanta has about one million dollars left to spend on free agency before Spring Training begins in April and they still have a couple of questions that remain unanswered.
The one glaring hole in the roster that should keep Frank Wren and Braves fans up at night is centerfield. If you watched a significant amount of Braves games in 2010, which I'm assuming you did, you already know that Nate McLouth is not the most dependable player on the team. Last year, "McOut" posted a batting average significantly below .200, hit only six balls over the fence, and drove in just 24 runs. Sure, McLouth has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, but it is far more likely that 2008 was just a fluke and McLouth really is just a below-average hitter than for the former All Star to make a miraculous comeback into stardom.
I am not saying that it is time to give up completely on McLouth. He is undoubtedly the starting center fielder in 2011, but if Wren doesn't go out and buy some insurance for the speedy outfielder, Braves fans will be stuck with the torture of watching McLouth poison the lineup and the equally-disappointing Jordan Schafer backing him up.
As a Braves follower, I know you remember Andruw Jones. During his time in Atlanta, Jones was the greatest center fielder in all aspects of the game. Since Jones left the ATL, he has proven that if he can just stay healthy, he can manage to hit 25 home runs in a season and keep his batting average at an acceptable number. The ten-time Gold Glove winner may not be able to play center like he could in the glory days, but if he is called upon, he can still cover the ground.
On paper, Jones fits all of the Braves' needs; he's cheap, familiar with the team, and can provide a huge bat off the bench, but Andruw is also what I like to call a high-risk, high-reward type of player. Jones could arrive in Atlanta and be reunited with all of his old pals and become the savior of the Atlanta Braves...or he could wear down and fall to injury early in the season.
Signing the former Brave would certainly be a roll of the dice, but is it so crazy to think that Jones is the best option out there? He is a proven veteran ballplayer that can carry a team on his back for a significant amount of time. Sound familiar? (See: Troy Glaus)
Plus, you have to admit that you would love to see Chipper and Andruw reunited for one last dance with a shot to win it all this time.