When I suggest – as in today’s print column available on myajc.com -- that re-signing Brian McCann would be a poor investment I mean only financially. He’s a catcher who’ll turn 30 in February and who hasn’t due to injury been himself since the summer of 2011. At a time when the Braves still owe Dan Uggla $26 million and B.J. Upton $60 million a team trying to operate on a mid-level budget cannot afford another big-ticket whiff. Because there’s so much money at play in free agency baseball teams need to consider financial reality above emotional truths. Landing Albert Pujols seemed a major coup for the Angels but in two years with him they haven’t yet made the playoffs with him and this season he played only 99 games. He’ll turn 34 in January and he’s under contract through 2021. He’s still owed $212 million by Anaheim. By way of contrast the Oakland A’s have won consecutive American League West titles with total payrolls of $113 million. Yes some teams can outspend their mistakes. Josh Beckett worked 43 1/3 innings and was 0-5 for the Dodgers and made $15.75 million but L.A. still won the National League West. The Braves got away with paying Derek Lowe to leave and they’ve largely gotten away with Uggla’s three seasons of diminishing returns. Despite general manager Frank Wren’s inefficiency with big salaries his team has still won more games than any other National League team the past four seasons. But ultimately that dead money – Uggla didn’t make the postseason roster and Upton was essentially the 25th man – had an impact. Because of the Uggla/Upton failures the Braves tried to play a Division Series with three outfielders manning spots that didn’t maximize defense and their starting second baseman was the Kansas City castoff Elliot Johnson.
Braves can't keep making big-money errors
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Oct 25