Today, the Braves annouced that they had claimed Joe Mather off waivers from the St Louis Cardinals. This does nothing to fill the Braves' gaping hole in left field, but what it does do is give the team a player that can compete for a spot on the bench. Think Joe Thurston last spring...ironically, Thurston was also a former Cardinal. Mather is a utility guy with the ability to play all 3 outfield positions (though he plays center pretty poorly), and both corner infield positions. So essentially...he's Eric Hinske with a lot less bat. Now, if the Braves picked up Mather with the intention of replacing Hinske, its a stupid move. But if the Braves picked Mather up just because he seemed like he could be a useful body, its another issue altogether...one that I don't have much of a problem with. I don't really mind the move all that much if its like the Thurston move, putting Mather into a competition. But if he's being immediately written in for a bench slot? I've got issues.
Mather spent most of last season with AAA Memphis, and in 335 at bats, put up a line of .275/.348/.442. He had a pronouced platoon split last season as well, hitting .311/.398/.485 against lefties and .259/.326/.422 against righties. So now he's possibly looking like a replacement for Matt Diaz with the lefty splits. He'd definitely be cheaper than Diaz, who is arbitration eligible this season and will be getting a raise on his $2.55 million salary from last season. Is a platoon player like Diaz worth over $3M? Probably not. Another team might have interest in Diaz if he is re-signed though, and if Mather beats him out for a job. So my major question about this deal remains: is it a competition thing, or is Mather being given someone's slot on the team? I absolutely don't want Hinske to go anyway, and I'm on the fence about Diaz at this point in time. We'll see how the rest of the hot stove shakes out before making any rash decisions about the issue.