The Atlanta Braves have made a few questionable roster moves over the years. You'd be hard-pressed to find a professional sports franchise that hasn't. The signings or acquisitions of guys like Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami and Nate McLouth proved to be ill-fated deals for general manager Frank Wren, but at least all three of these players contributed at one point or another in Atlanta.
When the Braves signed relief pitcher Chad Durbin two weeks ago, no one really understood the move. While capable of striking a few batters out, Durbin typically had poor numbers throughout his career and surrendered an insanely high number of home runs for a reliever.
It's one thing if a player is seldom called upon and performs accordingly when entering the game. Some guys in Major League Baseball simply do not have what it takes to appear in more than a game or two each week. But given Durbin's performance after nine games and his career track record -- and Fredi Gonzalez's willingness to keep him on the roster -- we can only conclude one thing about the deal:
The Braves completely wasted nearly a million dollars.
All winter long it seemed like there was one underlying message whenever the Braves were discussed: the club didn't have any money to spend. Sure, they had a few million here or there to possibly spend at the trade deadline, but most of their 2012 payroll was already accounted for. And given the team already had a fine bullpen in place, the signing of Durbin for $900,000 was odd and highly questionable.
In three appearances thus far, Durbin has allowed six runs to score. He has surrendered a home run in each game he has appeared in, all three of which were no-doubt shots from the moment they met the bat. Short of the Braves either leading or trailing by upwards of eight or so runs, there is absolutely no chance manager Fredi Gonzalez can rely on Durbin to come out of the bullpen.
As he struggles, capable relievers such as Cory Gearrin, Yohan Flande and Adam Russell are all sitting at Triple-A Gwinnett, dominating the competition as expected. They would have made no more than the league minimum this season in Atlanta.
The issue with the acquisition of Durbin really isn't his performance -- it's awful, but it isn't like the front office handed him a five-year contract -- but rather the recklessness the front office displayed while signing him. For a club with such an uncertain financial future, you would sure think the Braves would be a bit more frugal with their spending.
It was only $900,000 dollars, but that's $900,000 dollars less from what Wren will have to spend at the trade deadline in three months. That can make a world of difference while negotiating a potential deal, especially when you're a mid-market club like the Braves are.
Foolish signings like these need to stop in Atlanta.