Please be aware that whatever is said here will change or be proven invalid by a Braves move almost immediately upon publishing. The Braves have been moving swiftly in the past 24 hours to once again reshape their roster.
I won’t harangue you with the details: Yesterday in a surprise move the Braves released veteran starter Freddy Garcia. All the buzz was then about Atlanta rookie Gus Schlosser possibly being the fourth man in the Braves opening day four-man starting rotation. That lasted a few hours… because during the Braves night game the team signed recently released veteran starter Aaron Harang.
Reasons: With Garcia and Harang as seemingly interchangeable veteran starting pitchers, what made the Braves trade out one for the other? Money could be a possibility, as Harang could be guaranteed less than Garcia would have been guaranteed. Garcia had publicly stated, and no doubt let the team know, that he had no desire to accept a minor league assignment; Harang hasn’t made any such statement. Frank Wren’s statement about the move is all subtext:
“[Harang is] similar to Freddy [Garcia], but we just felt [Harang] was a better fit for us.”
Oh well, that’s the business of baseball. I’m glad for at least a few months we were able to Just Make Memory.
Redman Redux: Harang is apparently stretched out to six-plus innings and ready to step into the rotation to begin the season. I honestly liked my thinking about what I thought the Braves thinking was yesterday… when I thought the team was going with Schlosser for the fourth spot. Harang is kind of ‘meh’ in a Paul Maholm sort of way — no frills, might put in some good work, but more than likely his declining stuff will get exposed by Major League hitters.
Mystery Lefty: Old man O’Brien tweeted that he was going to see some mystery lefty in the Braves bullpen before yesterday’s game.
There's a lefty throwing in #Braves 'pen now with no name on jersey. Going out to see. Wren watching him.
— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) March 24, 2014
Dozens of minutes went by without a follow-up tweet, and the Braves twitterverse was beseeched with troll-like rumors about any and all free agent pitchers, as well as the possible demise of our intrepid beat writer.
— gondeee (@gondeee) March 24, 2014
Turns out it was just a lefty reliever named Luis Perez, who has some Major League time with Toronto the past three seasons. Overall it was a cruel early April Fools joke unwittingly played on all of us by DOB.
Roadrunner: Apparently the Brewers have released 1B/3B Juan Francisco. The Braves traded him to Milwaukee last year for minor league LHP Thomas Keeling… who was just released by the Braves.
More moves?: It certainly seems like the Braves are not yet done making moves. The most likely next move will come in the form of a bullpen addition from outside the organization. I mentioned yesterday in the MTM that Anthony Varvaro seemed to be on the outside of the bullpen competition. While he had a spotless inning in the box score yesterday, the radar gun told a different story:
Varvaro's FB 86-89. He was 92-96 last year. Even if gun on Fox is off, it's not off that much. Velo drop is troublesome.
— gondeee (@gondeee) March 25, 2014
That is not going to get it done. I hate to say it, but that kind of velocity drop is a harbinger of elbow or shoulder problems. The Braves could choose to put Varvaro on the DL to start the season, and then send him off to a minor league rehab assignment and hope he regains his velocity.