Braves can't buy love from players

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

DUNEDIN, Fla -- It was like the Atlanta Braves were offering Confederate money to free agents.

A.J. Burnett said no, leaving the Braves as runner-up when he signed a five-year, $82.5-million US deal with the New York Yankees.

"He has a place in Baltimore and his wife doesn't like to fly," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.

Mark Teixeira said no, signing an eight-year, $80 million deal with the Yanks.

"Tough to compete against Yankee money," Cox said.

Then, the Braves tried to work out a deal for San Diego Padres' Jake Peavy. That didn't work and Peavy stayed with San Diego.

After sending a signed offer sheet to shortstop Rafael Furcal's agents. the Braves saw the shortstop sign a three-year, $30-million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"But we've got our team now," said Cox.

After a 14-year run representing the National League East in post-season play, the Braves are competing with the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets to end a three-year October drought.

With $40 million to spend, general manager Frank Wren looked to be a major player at the winter meetings and over the off-season. He did add three starters in Javier Vazquez from the Chicago White Sox and free agents Kenshin Kawakami (a three-year, $23-million deal) and Derek Lowe (four years at $60 million).

LOWE POINT

Lowe started against the Jays yesterday, working two innings and allowing one run.

The Braves figured they'd bring home Georgia favourite Andruw Jones for the minimum after he was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Instead, he signed a $500,000 deal with the Texas Rangers. The Braves added free-agent outfielder Garret Anderson.

Having Kawakami in camp is the first time in Cox's 29-year, managing career he's had a Japanese player ... and eight-to-10 writers and a three-man documentary crew following one player.

"First day, he plays catch and throws a bullpen at 60 miles per hour," Cox said. "The writers ask all these questions. I explained he was on the mound beside Lowe because it was a sign of respect. Second bullpen, same velocity.

"But he was great on Friday, he threw two scoreless against Pittsburgh and allowed one hit. That day I had something to talk about."


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