"He obviously didn't do for us what he did last year," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "With the acquisition of Baez, we had to make room in our bullpen. This was the spot that we felt made most sense."
After going 1-8 with a 5.53 ERA in 13 starts this season, Sosa was moved back to the bullpen, where he also struggled. Given a chance to be the club's closer, he converted just half of his six save opportunities. In 13 relief appearances, he posted a 5.19 ERA. Most of his problems stemmed from the fact that he surrendered 20 homers in just 87 1/3 innings (as a starter and reliever).
Baez and Aybar arrive: As Sosa packed his bags on Sunday, Baez and Aybar were unpacking theirs. The two were acquired from the Dodgers on Friday in exchange for Wilson Betemit.
While Baez will serve as closer Bob Wickman's top setup man, Aybar will spend at least the next two weeks as the club's starting third baseman. As expected, the Braves placed Chipper Jones on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with a strained left oblique.
With Aybar's arrival, the Braves may have found themselves a legitimate leadoff hitter who could fill that role for many years to come. They immediately put the 23-year-old switch hitter at the top of Sunday's lineup and moved both Marcus Giles and Edgar Renteria down one spot in the lineup. The move allows Giles to return to the second spot of the order, where he'd found more comfort in the past.
Aybar, who can play both third base and second base, hasn't had a lot of experience in the leadoff role. During the five games he appeared as Triple-A Las Vegas' leadoff hitter this season, he hit .429 (9-for-21) and drew two walks.
But when he was called up to Los Angeles for the final month of last season, he proved quite capable in the leadoff spot. In 22 games, he hit .337 (28-for-83) and produced a .455 on-base percentage.
"He's got a live bat," Schuerholz said. "He's a young guy and an emerging player."
Chipper understands: This isn't exactly the best time for Jones to begin his second stint of the season on the disabled list. But the veteran third baseman understands there really wasn't another option.
Jones strained the oblique on July 21 and then aggravated the injury during a fifth-inning at-bat on Friday night. While missing four of the previous five games, he had started feeling some relief. But now he's come to the understanding he won't return to full health without resting for at least two weeks.
"I haven't picked up a bat," Jones said Sunday morning. "I'm scared to death to take a swing. I've got to get it gone because it's going to continue to get worse and worse."
When Jones missed six weeks with a left foot injury last year, Andruw Jones took charge and put the Braves offense on his back. But Chipper, who hit .500 with seven homers in July, knows how important his presence can be.
"It just seems like this year, when I'm not in there, we can't get anything going," Chipper said.
Baez, Wickman reunited: During Baez's rookie season with the Indians in 2001, he served as Wickman's setup man. Now reunited with him again, the 28-year-old right-hander will be trying to avoid the couple of forgettable outings that have marred his recent stats.
Judging relievers by the ERA can be a bit misleading, and that could certainly prove to be the fact in regards to Baez, who has a 6.85 ERA since the beginning of June.
Baez didn't allow a run in nine of the 13 appearances he made in June. Of the 12 runs he surrendered during the month, nine of them came in the span of two games.
He allowed runs in three of the nine appearances he made for the Dodgers in July. Most of the damage he's incurred this month came on Tuesday, when he was charged with three earned runs while recording just one out against the Padres.
"I've been working on my mechanics," Baez said. "I don't want to make excuses. You've got to be strong and fix what you're doing wrong."
Coming up: The Braves will begin a three-game series against the Pirates on Tuesday night at PNC Park. John Smoltz (8-5, 3.55) will oppose Ian Snell (9-6, 4.63).