The Braves may be looking at a few more players, and the Mets have already landed some talented baseball minds.
Some More Braves Targets
Earlier this afternoon, Mark Bowman of MLB.com mentioned a few more trade targets for the Braves. The players he mentioned are Jacoby Ellsbury, Colby Rasmus, Josh Willingham, and Rajai Davis. Really, any of these players would do. The most likely to be traded are Ellsbury and Davis, especially if the Red Sox sign Jayson Werth.
Ellsbury played just 18 games last season due to broken ribs, but he has been a solid player when healthy. His defense in center field is not as good as his speed would suggest. Most metrics have him as below average during his lone full season of center field in 2009. The Red Sox even moved him to left to make room for the aging Mike Cameron. Regardless, Ellsbury would be an upgrade over what the Braves currently have offensively and defensively for center. He has respectable on base skills and has stolen 136 bases in his career compared to being caught just 24 times. It would not be easy to acquire Ellsbury, but the Braves have the prospects to pull off a trade if they so wish.
Davis, as Bowman mentions, is far from a great hitter. He does not walk much and will strike out close to 80 times a season. He relies on his batting average to get on base, but does has tremendous speed, like Ellsbury, once he is on. What kills him is his plate discipline, which is very poor. Defensively, he is very solid. He has played all three outfield spots, and in his only season with 100 games in center he had good scores in most defensive metrics. Davis would be a cheaper option and when utilized correctly -- as in batting eighth and only eighth -- could be a decent contributor offensively.
Mets Making Smart Decisions
The Mets have had a pension for making poor front office decisions, which has eventually led to poor player decisions. Omar Minaya has always been an inconsistent general manager, replacing almost every great transaction with an equally terrible one. Hiring Steve Phillips was another decision that did not quite pan out, but it appears the Mets have learned from their mistakes.
Sandy Alderson, the newly hired general manager, acts in a much more business-like manner than his successors. The Harvard-bred Alderson is known as the "Godfather of Sabermetrics." Alderson did not invent sabermetrics or advanced baseball statistics -- not by a long shot -- but he was the first general manager to look more at statistics than actual scouting, and stressed recruiting undervalued players for his ballclub more so than any of his peers. This strategy, which at the time involved searching for players with great on base skills instead of batting average and speed, worked greatly as the Athletics became a great team for a number of years.
To aide Alderson in the player development department he hired Paul DePodesta. DePodesta was formerly the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, an assistant general manager of the Oakland Athletics, and most recently a front office assistant for the San Diego Padres. DePodesta is another Harvard grad, so the Mets and Alderson are clearly targeting executives with extensive baseball knowledge in addition to being great intellectual minds.
Alderson also went and hired J.P. Ricciardi to be the special assistant to the general manager. While Ricciardi is not an Ivy Leaguer like Alderson or DePodesta, he once held this same position under Alderson for the Athletics. Ricciardi held a number of different roles with the A's, which then led him to become the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Neither Ricciardi nor DePodesta had great runs as general managers, but they have always been solid executives. The news of the Mets hiring Alderson as well as his two underlings is certainly not good news for the Braves nor the rest of the N.L. East. The Mets are not expected to be contenders next season, but if Alderson and his crew could build a consistently good team in Oakland with a limited payroll, just imagine what they could do with one of the top payrolls in baseball in one of the most baseball-hungry cities.