The Braves Want Who?
By Fred Owens
It always amazes me what the trade rumor mill generates. When Carlos Beltran was made available everyone said the Braves had to have him without recognizing that he didn’t fulfill a real need, was a two month rental who would not sign here again and for who the Mets wanted Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino or Mike Minor plus a warm body or two.
Next it was Hunter Pence whom I coveted in the off season when I didn’t know that Chipper would make a successful comeback. The Astros said over and over that they wouldn’t trade Pence unless they got a trade better than the Teixeira deal. I love pence but they wanted Lexus money for a Chevy pickup.
B.J. Upton was the next name out of the hat ignoring his steadily slipping production and tendency to loaf now and then. Those things are so pronounced that the Rays may not even offer him arbitration this year and told folks that they didn’t have to be overwhelmed to get him like the Astros and Mets. IF –(note it’s a big if) Bobby was still at the helm or Clint Hurdle – either of which could keep him sufficiently motivated ala Andrew Jones – that might make sense. I don’t think That’s something I’d ask Fredi Gonzales to do. Perhaps one or both prove my feelings wrong at some point.
When noted daddy’s boy Colby Rasmus was traded to the Jays folks were all upset that we didn’t get him. According to reports Rasmus is virtually uncoachable because daddy stands in the background telling him his coaches are wrong. The day Rasmus was sent to Toronto Colby-Daddy ripped into LaRusa in the press. I’m not a great fan of LaRusa’s managing style but I’ll suggest that he, Mark McGwire, and Mike Aldrete know more about hitting than daddy dearest. LaRusa said when something is wrong it was the job of the coaches to fix it. Colby Rasmus wouldn’t let them. So even though he has all the tools to be great some day, we need a player now. Rasmus is was not a fit.
Now I’m hearing Carlos Quentin and Ryan Ludwick. Both are fine corner outfielders. I like both about the same, Quentin is more controllable. Neither answers the needs the Braves currently have. Since everyone who reads here knows how I feel about the bullpen and the current buzz is about a bat let’s look at that need.
Any unbiased outsider will tell you that the Braves have holes at shortstop and in centerfield. A look at the every day line lineup will quickly show why.
Alex Gonzalez is a superb fielding shortstop but his line this year is .228/.260/.338, and it’s worse in run producing situations.
- With two out and RISP it’s .095/.136/.190.
- With two and and a man on third it’s .050/.095/.050.
- Versus RH pitchers .215/.248/.304
He’s hit eight home runs, five were solo shots the other three had one man on. His trademark power has gone on hiatus so a solid bat that hits right handers and fielded almost as well is an upgrade. Even one that just hit better with RISP is an upgrade. Tyler Pastornicky maybe next year’s answer. I don’t know that he’s ready now. There’s an article today on our sister site, “Seedlings To Stars“ him. Check that out for details.
In center Nate McLouth is .231/.345/.337 with four homers and 16 RBI and his speed has netted him four stolen bases in six attempts. Freddie Freeman has three. Batting leadoff he hits .188 with an OBP of .235. As a defender he runs balls down well but has a below average arm. teams with speed run on him at will.
Jordan Schafer is a plus defender with a plus arm and better than McLouth in general in the field. His line .240/.307/.316 is not good enough for a leadoff hitter. He’s only walked 18 times, hits too many balls in the air and doesn’t bunt often enough or well enough to make infielders take notice. He can he just doesn’t and frankly a pennant race is no place to do learn how
If they can only get one, the bat the Braves need should be a right handed leadoff hitter who gets one base at around a .380 clip, steals bases and plays solid defense. The best options for that are centerfielders, not necessarily sexy names but men who fit the job description. Names like Michael Bourn,(okay, Bourn is a sexy name on the market and left handed but I’d take him) Chris Denorfia and Craig Gentry bubble to the top as having the numbers, controllability and work ethic that match what we expect from the Braves.
I understand a fan who knows only that Hunter Pence is a good player wanting us to get a good player. From a GM and his staff I expect that a list of qualifications is developed then people matching that list are selected and a approach to their team made. There must be no favoritism towards any player just because he’s liked. McLouth is a failure. Gonzales is collapsing at the plate, Schafer just hasn’t shown he can do it. The rest have
As I write this the rumor mill is afire because the GM and an assistant “strode purposefully” onto the field, spoke with the Skipper then strode off. Everyone assumes a trade has been made. Current favorites are Ryan Ludwick and Carlos Quentin. They are good ball players and adding a good ball player is always a good thing. Adding the right ball player at the right time is the best thing. Lets hope the Braves do that latter and that whoever they choose is a good ball player as well.
To close things up for now, here’s an updated table of standings plus projected wins and the winning percentage needed to be almost sure to win the division.