Braves – Post Pence Predictions


It’s about 1 p.m. eastern now, 27 hours from the trade deadline and Braves fans are begging for Frank Wren to do something. I’m sure he will. What that will be is the question.

When the GM went all in and (thankfully) lost of A.J. Burnett he had a fall back plan, signing Derek Lowe away from the Mets almost immediately. To do that he had to include an extra year at $15 million. Everyone knew that was too long even for a pitcher like Lowe who had never been on the DL but, Wren was going to go the extra mile turn solidify the pitching staff. Whether you believe Lowe’s been a great asset or not, Wren got his man and met his goal.

I have no way of judging motivation for the GM’s sudden determination to get Lowe of course but a couple of week before he had gone to bed thinking he was about to bring Rafael Furcal back to Atlanta only to wake up and find out Furcal was going back to LA. Furcal’s move seriously annoyed Braves’ President John Sheurholtz as everyone found out when he announced that the Braves would not deal with that agent again.  It cannot have set well with Wren either. The end result may been the Braves sudden willingness to part with ace starter money for a guy who was at best a #2  and probably a #3 almost anywhere else. Flash forward to July 29, 2011.

The Braves are in intense negotiations with the Houston Astros who recognized that the sudden feeding frenzy erupting around Hunter Pence was their opportunity to take a year or more of the rebuilding process. Three weeks ago Pence was not for sale at any price. Now he could be traded for a return far in excess of his genuine market value. For the first time sine trading Oswalt last year Ed Wade had the hammer and a chance to save his job.

The Astros (and Wade) needed top prospects and asked for two plus a couple of good lower level players. That meant the Braves would have had to give up at least one from the Julio Teheran / Randall Delgado /Arodys Vizcaino group plus Mike Minor and maybe an arm like Erik Cordier, J.J. Hoover or Brett Oberholtzer the Braves every day player prospects are a long way away from matching the Astro’s needs – Tyler Pastornicky aside – so it had to be pitching. I believe sending Minor would not have been an issue but asking for him plus one of the big three and a good B arm was akin to highway robbery. Wren quite rightly felt like he was being held to ransom turned the deal down. What now?   Like 2008 I suspect the GM is not pleased at the treatment and has other options in front of him.

The Bourn Option

Michael Bourn is the guy who most fills our the needs I spelled out yesterday. The question is, are the Astros still trying to get our entire farm system or has raping the Philly system satiated their prospect lust?

(Note: yesterday’s post had a table with significant numbers for most of these guys along with a way to decide who might fit. If you haven’t looked yet you might want to check that out.)

An offer for Bourn acceptable to the Braves would again include Mike Minor, maybe a healthy Jordan Schafer as PTBNL perhaps or Matt Lipka, a former top pick at SS who is behind Tyler Pastornicky and being over taken by Andrelton Simmons. Whether that fits the Astros wish list I have no idea but they’ve already milked the Phillies for everything they had so perhaps they’d accept a reasonable offer.

An Upton Option

Of the many names around the rumor mill lately and I’ve been vocal about not being a supporter of the B.J. Upton. His batting average is low, he strikes out at around a .333 clip and accounts of his lack of hustle have been around a while.  The Braves need guys who leave it all between the lines every day. Like all things however they is a way it might work.

When the Cards dumped problem child and under performer Colby Rasmus they got three important pieces back and made them favorites again the the Central. If we could so a similar deal with the Rays I it might be a great deal short and long run.

A deal with the Rays that included Upton,Reid Brignac, Brandon Gomes and Johnny Damon (and paid some $) might net Mike Minor, Jordan Schafer (once off DL as PTBNL) or Matt Lipka, Brandon Hicks, and a couple of minor prospects back. That would fix the center field hole, provide us a real leadoff hitter in Damon and a backup/replacement for Alex Gonzalez that makes real sense instead of the used up Julio Lugo. While Brignac hasn’t hit this year but has been solid defensively and had too okay years in 09 and 10. The Rays would get another CF for whom the move might be a good career move, an A- starter and a replacement for the out of favor Brignac.

Rentals

  • Josh Willingham is still in the chatter still but he’s a platoon bat at best, plays left field only and changing leagues might set him bat at the plate. His fielding is replacement level.
  • Ryan Ludwick is bouncing around the rumor mill as but but is having a poor year at the plate. He plays good defense and might be cheap but we have .220 hitters.
  • Coco Crisp can still patrol center field well and has experience leading off but lost that job for the As earlier in the year. He’s a FA at the end of the year and so might be less expensive than others and Tim Kurkjian says he’s a “better player than many think.” I’ve liked Crisps play in the past but haven’t seen him lately. Leaving the hell hole called the Oakland Coliseum would help him all around. Changing leagues could slow him at the plate. Might be my last alternative choice and I’d want at least one more SS capable player from somewhere. Julio Lugo? Really?

Not on the radar but. . .

Names that fit but haven’t reached any rumor mongers ears yet include:

  • Marlon Byrd. Nice fit if the Cubs want to move him at a fair price.
  • Chris Denorfia in San Diego is a guy I like a lot and should be inexpensive.
  • Craig Gentry in Texas if healthy and the Rangers would like to add a minor league pitcher in return

Round and around the rumor mill goes those on the outside can only guess what those inside know. In 27 hours we can relax until the waiver wire rumors begin their attack. I like you hope we aren’t Ankieled again.

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Tags: B.J. Upton Coco Crisp Frank Wren Hunter Pence Michael Bourn Mike Minor