Yikes. After all of those Cooperstown-tinted seasons with Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine atop the rotation, Atlanta struck gold again by dealing for Oakland ace Tim Hudson on a winter's afternoon that brought sobering news for any National League team thinking 13 consecutive division titles is enough for the Braves.
|Oakland will miss Tim Hudson's presence on the mound and in the locker room. (Getty Images)|
Wow. In Hudson, Smoltz and Mike Hampton, the Braves have a top three as good as anybody in the game (assuming Smoltz bounces back from three seasons as a closer and remains healthy and strong as a starter, of course).
In John Thomson, the Braves have a 14-game winner who compiled a 3.72 ERA in '04 pitching all the way down in the fourth slot in the rotation.
In Horacio Ramirez, whom Schuerholz says is completely healthy after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in mid-October, the Braves have a fifth starter who was their best starter during nine pre-injury starts in '04 in which he compiled a sparkling 2.39 ERA.
"As you can tell by our approach, we've gone back to the old-fashioned Braves teams that won championships with dominant pitching," Schuerholz said.
Yeah, and on Desperate Housewives, they've gone back to the old-fashioned approach that beautiful women in tight jeans get viewers.
Hey, some approaches are just obvious.
Besides, who doesn't love a Dream Team?
So yes, it's a Brave new world after a wild day in baseball:
- Oakland is still Oakland, unable to pay the Hudsons and Miguel Tejadas and Jason Giambis what they would command as free agents, something Hudson is scheduled to become following the upcoming season. And despite grabbing Jason Kendall last month, the A's are worse off today -- and less competition for division favorite Anaheim -- than they were yesterday.
- Seattle is spending dough the A's can only dream of, scooping up Adrian Beltre on Thursday, one day after signing Richie Sexson, in an extraordinarily unusual money grab for the Mariners. If they get some starting pitching -- they lost out to the Yankees on Carl Pavano -- they could even be competitive again.
- It was a miserable day for the Dodgers, who lost their franchise player of '04 in Beltre and followed that up by failing to acquire Hudson.
For a time over the weekend at the winter meetings, the Dodgers appeared close to nailing Hudson for pitcher Edwin Jackson and second baseman Alex Cora. That never happened, and several baseball sources -- including Oakland general manager Billy Beane on Thursday -- said that the Dodgers were never as close as portrayed in the Hudson derby.
Too bad, because the Dodgers are in need of a sharp U-turn this winter if they're even thinking of anything close to resembling another NL West title. Since the season ended, they've lost Beltre and center fielder Steve Finley, they're planning on taking a big gamble with Hee Seop Choi at first, they have no catching that scares anybody (David Ross and Tom Wilson is the current combo) and everybody you talk to in the industry says they're looking to reduce payroll and trade Shawn Green.
Of course, GM Paul DePodesta still has more cheese than his former boss in Oakland. Given what pitchers are getting this winter on the open market -- Kris Benson, three years and $22.5 million! -- there was probably a better chance Beane could bring Christy Mathewson back to life than produce the money it would take to keep Hudson beyond '05.