Beltran to Atlanta, Heyward To Gwinnett?


MLB.com’s Mark Bowman noted in his blog today that the Braves were “among the teams who have shown an interest in Mets outfielder  Carlos Beltran, who would certainly upgrade their lineup and serve as the versatile outfielder they are seeking.” The idea would be to send Jason Heyward to Gwinnett to “fix his swing” and play Beltran in right until he returned. Looking at things without considering the future – in a go for it now or bust strategy – choosing Beltran and sending Jason out would be a good idea. The lineup might look something like this:

Schafer
Prado
McCann
Chipper
Beltran
Freeman
Uggla
Gonzalez
Pitcher

With a bench of Eric Hinske, David Ross, Nate McLouth and (anybody but) Julio Lugo.

That’s certainly a stronger looking proposition that the one we field today. When Heyward gets his swing back the it forces us to make the choice of whether we keep McLouth or Schafer.

Last winter I proposed sending Kenshin Kawakami and Nate McLouth to the Mets for Beltran. It was a good idea (or at least I thought so ) but the season started  with Beltran still in new York and the hotter he got the more obvious it became that he was the trading chip the Mets would use to rebuild their farm system. Now the Mets have said they will pay his salary for this year. That makes sense because a salary dump doesn’t help them get better. The offer to pay salary is clearly designed to get clubs without payroll flexibility but loaded with prospects to stock the Mets farm system.

Sandy Alderson knows he has the best bat out there and is clearly going to maximize his return (as he should) by asking the Braves (and everyone else) for at least two A type prospects; maybe more. One of those prospects would have to be a pitcher ready to be their number one starter – think Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado – if not in 2012 then certainly by 2013. In addition he’ll want a highly rated everyday player and as we don’t have a boatload of those another pitcher or multiple A- or B players.  The conversation might go like this.

Hey Frank, I’ll send you Beltran for Delgado and that other pitcher, what’s his name. . .Teheran?

No thanks Sandy, how about Todd Redmond, Wilkin Ramirez, Juan Abreu, and Diory Hernandez?

<laughter>

Sandy? Sandy? … hmmm

The asking price for Beltran is simply going to be too much for a 3 month rental when we’re competing against the Tigers, Giants, Phillies, and heaven knows who else. So anything The Mets would agree to ladies and gents, would make the Mark Teixeira trade look like an absolute bargain.  I’m as sure as anyone can be outside of the inner circle that Frank Wren won’t make that mistake. Another quote caught my eye as well.

The Braves are happy with Jordan Schafer’s range in center and believe he is making the right progress as a leadoff hitter. . .”

Like the Braves, I’m happy with Schafer’s defense. He’s the best we’ve seen since Andruw Jones; no argument there. I am not however as happy with his offense as the Braves are supposed to be. While making progress as a leadoff hitter is what I want him to do, he should be doing that at Gwinnett.

Schafer wasn’t called up because he was destroying AAA, we needed an center fielder when Nate got hurt and he was all that we had. Before being called up his slash line was .256/.309/.323 with 14 walks and 28 Ks, 1 homer and 21 RBI in 186 plate appearances. Those numbers put him near the bottom of all of Gwinnett’s everyday players. Clearly he came up to play center and when he hit as well as Nate and played center fielder like he owned it he stayed. Nate is however marginally a better hitter and the injury to Chipper Jones allowed both to stay. In fact none of our outfield – minus Prado – is playing better replacement level.

Michael Jong over at Baseball prospectus pointed that while the Phillies outfield could be considered struggling, our outfield is pedestrian. As a whole so far this year Braves outfielder numbers are 12% below the average National League outfielder. That’s a significant deficit.

PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI BB K
Jordan Schafer 204 .230 .295 .311 1 7 17 38
Nate McLouth 278 .227 .347 .341 4 14 39 43
Jason Heyward .224 .319 .397 9 23 31 53
Braves Outfield* .224 .320 .380

* prior to 7-18-11

Bowman wrote that the reason they might consider sending Heyward out or platooning him was “. . .struggles against left-handers.”

This is the first time I’ve seen the idea that Jason’s performance against left handers has deteriorated to that point. We all know he’s having a horrible year but everyone I know assumed they would just let him work it out.  But the numbers are pretty bad; .173/.271/.333, 2 homers, 6 RBI, 9 walks and 18Ks in 85 plate appearances. But his numbers against right handers (.247/.341/.426 7,17, 22 and 35 in 185 PA) while better, aren’t that impressive either.

I have no idea whether this is the infamous ‘sophomore jinx’ or if in fact his swing is broken, nor do I know how to fix whatever Jason broke.

I have no idea if sending him to Gwinnett for two weeks will fix it.

I believe that we need outfield run production to make a decent post season run.

I don’t believe Beltran will end up in Atlanta nor would I pump up the Mets with our arms A+ arms to get him. For what they are asking we could return a couple of players for a price like that and that we have holes in at least two places we need to fill.

Matt Kemp, Hunter Pence and Colby Rasmus (who in the last month is .188/.268/.406 BTW) are not moving.

Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp don’t excite me or seem to address the problem.

I believe individual, big name signings are only the answer if the question is, “how can we waste money?”

I know need runners on base when Prado, McCann, Jones, Freeman,and Uggla come to the plate. That starts in the leadoff spot.

I know we need protection and production at shortstop that’s named something other than Julio Lugo.

The path to the World Series may well be paved with the deals made or not made by the GMs in the next few weeks. With a market this thin and everyone’s needs about the same it will not be easy. I wish Frank Wren luck, he’ll need it.

Next Braves Game View full schedule »
Wednesday, Sep 33 Sep12:10Philadelphia PhilliesBuy Tickets

Tags: Carlos Beltran Jason Heyward Jordan Schafer Nate Mclouth