Monday, May 22, 2017

Braves replace Freeman with James Loney and Matt Adams

Now that Freddie Freeman is sidelined for about 10 weeks, the Braves had to have a better answer as everyday first baseman than Jace Peterson. That meant signing and trading for two new faces, James Loney and Matt Adams.

James Loney was signed to a minor league deal (ala what Ryan Howard was doing and failed at) so that he can potentially step in as a first base option. Loney is a 33 year old, 11 year MLB veteran with almost 1400 games played at first base. He had a career resurgance in Tampa back in 2013, but his hitting numbers have been in steady decline ever since, leading up to his outright release from Tampa in 2016. At that point, the Padres picked up him at the beginning of 2016 season, and then the Mets purchased his rights from the Padres. He played 100 games with the Mets in 2016 and had a very mediocre .703 OPS with a .265 average.

Loney at his core is a replacement player, and that's why he's been signed away from the Rangers and Detroit after they tried him in their minor league systems. I would hold out hope for this one working beyond just filling in as a below average defensive replacement with a tepid bat, but we'll see.

Matt Adams is another story. Adams was traded to Atlanta for cash and Juan Yepez, a guy I've never heard of mentioned in our minor league system even once. Adams is almost 29, been in the league about 6 years, and he's a career .270/.315/.452 slash line player. That's a strong slugging percentage but the reason Adams is likely getting traded from St. Louis is his defense, which is frankly abysmal for a first baseman. However, with more power comes more playing time, so while he's nothing like Freeman with the glove, he's less of a falloff with the bat.

Neither person can make up for Freeman, yet the team suddenly went on a winning tear against the first place Nationals, and they are pitching better than ever. Maybe the Freddie injury galvanized the team to actually try harder instead of staring at Freddie swinging the bat. Maybe the Nationals took their foot off the gas and just assumed they would steamroll the Braves. Either way, it's an odd time to see a team surge when they've lost their best player. I hope they can keep it up against the Pirates this week.


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