Did SS Rafael Furcal renege on an agreement to return to Atlanta? Braves GM Frank Wren certainly thinks so, but in the eyes of the Journal Constitution’s Mark Bradley, who calls Furcal “the little man with the iffy birth certificate”, “sometimes the best deals are the ones you thought you™d made but didn™t make because somebody weaseled out at the end.”

Let™s not wonder overmuch about why Furcal did what he did (or didn™t do). Let™s note instead that the Braves, who already have a pretty fair shortstop, were about to lavish $30 million on one who™s five years older. Presumably this was preparatory to another trade – Yunel Escobar in a package for Jake Peavy – but I™m not ready to give up on Escobar. And I saw enough of Furcal on his first Atlanta tour to believe he hasn™t become what he should have.

So here™s what Furcal is: A little man of 31 (or so we believe) who has had a bad back and who has made the All-Star team once (that in 2003). For all the questions about his temper and his attitude, there™s a chance Escobar will wind up being a better player than Furcal. Heck, he already has a higher career OBP.

The Braves didn™t become a fourth-place team because one thing went wrong. They™re where they are because nearly everything fell apart. They™ll only get back to where they once were by building from the ground up. They shouldn™t get in the habit of swapping young for old. They shouldn™t be pursuing anyone who isn™t a big-time starting pitcher or a run-producing outfielder.

Last I checked, Furcal is neither.