January 28, 2005

Raul resurrected

Could Raul Mondesi become the latest Braves resurrection project? Braves general manager John Schuerholz thinks so.

Of all the environments clubhouse cancer Raul Mondesi could best benefit, Atlanta is the ultimate sanctuary for the 34-year-old outfielder to untangle.

John Shuerholtz structured a fine, low-risk deal with the much traveled clubhouse drama queen on Jan. 13, a one year, $1 million contract with $700,000 in performance bonuses.

Mondesi began 2004 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the team terminated his contract on May 19 after he abruptly left the team to return to his native Dominican Republic and fight a lawsuit.

In June, he was signed by Anaheim to fill in for injured players, played 8 games, and was released after failing to show up for a rehab assignment. His AL career also includes a fractured relationship with the Yankees and manager Joe Torre.

Horrid work ethic aside, on the field, Mondesi draws comparisons to Reggie Sanders, who Mondesi replaced in Pittsburgh to start 2004.

Sanders has assembled a good, but much traveled career so far, and produces about 30 home runs a year. He rarely gets signed for more than a year, but the Cardinals kept him around for 2005.

Sanders stepped into the spot J.D. Drew left open in St. Louis and hit .260 with 22 HR and .797 OPS. He was available the previous two offseasons, and in hindsight, would have been a fine spare part for the Phillies in 2003, the year Pat Burrell bottomed out and the team just missed the playoffs.

Sanders finished 2003 hitting .285 with 31 HRs and a .902 OPS, all for the bargain price of $1 million.

Sanders is a good spare part, and Schuerholz has a great knack for finding spare parts, better than any GM in baseball. It will be interesting to see if Mondesi can straighten it out and make it through an entire season without incident. Veteran leaders like John Smoltz and Chipper Jones, who play to win, are unlikely to have the kind of patience the Yankees were willing to give him.

Mondesi has always had a gun for an arm, and to go with Andruw Jones in center, it's a formidable addition to the outfield. Schuerholz acknowledged that left field is still "a work in progress." But the good news for Atlanta is Mondesi passed his physical with flying colors and arrived in excellent shape.

So the question is, which history will win out: Bobby Cox's track record of turning eggs into egg salad, or Mondesi's idiocy?

Open up your wallets
Here's an interesting bet: Which player will finish with a better EqR, Pat Burrell or Raul Mondesi?


At 3:48 PM, Blogger Tom G said...

The Bat.

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Jason Weitzel said...

I'd hate to see it, but I'm leaning toward Mondesi.


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