The Atlanta Braves weren’t part waiver trades news last weekend. GM Alex Anthopoulos says he wants to add players but he’s found no deal he likes yet.
At the non-waiver trade deadline back in July, the Atlanta Braves were in the market for a left-handed bench bat but unable to find a deal they liked. Last week I highlighted players that seemed to match those wishes and yesterday one of those players found a new home, but not in Atlanta.
The schizophrenic leadership of the Nationals finally did trade – in one case gave away – some important players but kept Bryce Harper. The Cardinals claimed former Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Adams and the Nationals figuratively said, “he’s our present to you, enjoy!”
The Cardinals were slightly behind the Atlanta Braves in the standing and got first dibs on Adams but the Braves passed on Daniel Murphy as he fell to the Cubs who picked him up along with some cash for two warm bodies; A-ball SS Andruw Monasterio and the ubiquitous PTBNL.
A move not made
During the rain-delay prior to Tuesday night’s win in Pittsburgh, Anthopoulos hinted at his reason for not grabbing Murphy.
The Braves GM said they considered all of the names available but (paraphrasing here) didn’t want to bring in anyone who would upset what the Braves had going. I took that as an indication that he believed signing Murphy would disrupt team chemistry.
Murphy is a quality lefty hitter and an average-at-best defender at second base. Fangraphs’ splits tool tells us that since July 1, he’s hit .376/.418/.594/1.012, with a .425 wOBA, 168 wRC+, 6.4% K-rate and a 7.3% walk rate against right-handed pitchers.
In that period Ozzie Albies managed to hit just .213/.246/.324/.570, with a .247 wOBA, 51 wRC+, 17.5% K-rate and a 3.5% walk rate. That’s significant platoon advantage that no manager could ignore.
Based on his interview, it’s pretty clear that Anthopoulos and his staff concluded that sitting Albies would so disrupt team morale that it was worth passing on Murphy. He’s talking about this kind of thing…
Albies inability to hit RHP isn’t new. On the year he’s hit .248/.290/.442/.732, with a .313 wOBA, 95 wRC+, 17.9% K-rate and a 4.5% walk-rate against RHP. Since he faces RHP more than twice as often his decline is a serious issue.
A move not needed – maybe
A more immediate issue popped up last night when Kurt Suzuki got smacked by a 93 mph heater.
Suzuki’s been hit by a pitch 11 times this season after being plunked 13 times last year. I thought that would put him near the top of the HBP pitch leaderboard but he’s tied for 17th with four other catchers and Brian Anderson. He’s not even the most plunked catcher: that’s Robinson Chirinos with 13, though he’s played seven more games. I digress.
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Last night many thought the Braves would start looking for another catcher if Suzuki hit the DL. This morning, we heard that he’s day-to-day with a bruised triceps. About 3:30 we heard that Chris Stewart arrived at PNC to back up Flowers while Suzuki’s ailing. To make room for Stewart, they optioned Michael Reed to Gwinnett.
The Braves kept Stewart at Gwinnett for such emergencies and having him with the team makes sense. However, he literally wasn’t hitting his weight there so expect Flowers to do the catching until Suzuki’s fit again.
Moves that may happen
In the pre-game interview Tuesday night Anthopoulos said they were still looking for players.
"“”We’re going to look to do something to this team and add one way or the other by the time we get to the end of the month . . . really want to add players if we can. . . may be on the bench, may be in the bullpen, anywhere we can get better”"
That and his statement about not interfering with what they have going on, begs the questions ‘who’ and ‘where’. He mentioned the bench and bullpen, having covered the bench last week let’s look at the pen.