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Atlanta Braves Have Backup Shortstop at Top of Priorities

December 5th, 2011 at 11:52 PM
By Cody Fields

The Miami Marlins have already shelled out big bucks to sign Heath Bel and Jose Reyes, but Frank Wren says the Atlanta Braves are looking to make the right kind of moves, instead of just making a move.

Though Bell and Reyes have just signed with the Marlins for at least a combined $129 million, the Braves are not expected to make an equally big splash this offseason, even if the Marlins manage to sign Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols.

Instead, the focus will be finding a backup shortstop. The Braves had previously looked into signing Jamey Carroll to help spell Tyler Pastornicky if the rookie struggles, but Carroll signed with the Minnesota Twins.

If Wren believes Pastornicky could be best served by someone who could a mentor during his rookie season, he could look into the ageless Omar Vizquel or former Braves Edgar Renteria.

Vizquel spent time at all four infield positions in his 23rd Major League year last season with the Chicago White Sox. Though he only hit .251 and has not hit a homer since 2010, Vizquel has always been known as a wizard with the glove. He has put together a career .972 fielding percentage and has won 11 Gold Gloves, including nine straight from 1993-2001.

Vizquel could also aid in Pastornicky's approach to the plate, as his career high in strikeouts was 72 in 2000 and 2001. He accumulated over 600 at bats in both seasons.

Renteria may be a better option, however, because unlike Vizquel, he has played in the National League most of his career, including 14 of his 16 seasons. Renteria appeared in 96 games last year with the Cincinnati Reds.

While Renteria has always had a solid glove, he has also hit for very good average in his career. He has a .286 career average and hit a career high .332 in 2007, his final of two years with the Braves.

With the amount of playing time he got last year, it would figure that Renteria could quickly jump into at least a platoon situation if Pastornicky sputters for any amount of time.

Regardless of who the Braves sign, Wren has made it clear that he must be able to have the wherewithal to handle the pressure of being called on any day to aid in the development of a young player. A seasoned veteran would make the most sense.

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Edgar Renteria, MLB, Omar Vizquel, Tyler Pastornicky

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