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Could Tim Lincecum clear waivers and end up in a Braves uniform? photo credit ┬ęKelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Potential Braves Waiver Moves

 

As Allan explained last week trades haven’t ended just because the trading deadline passed. Like all trades, some Braves waiver moves have been successes and some have not. GM Frank Wren has said he’s still looking for a starter, a left handed hitting bench bat and a backup infielder. With that in mind here are a few players he might consider.

Starting Pitching

I’m well aware of Brandon Beachy’s fine outing against the Phillies last night. I’m also aware that only the Nationals and the Marlins score fewer runs a game than the Phillies and that they were missing a couple of significant bats.  The other factor when discussing Beachy is as Chris explained, the inconsistency of pitchers returning from TJ surgery. Add to the Kris Medlen’s ups and downs and the realistic evaluation that Paul Maholm is at best a fourth starter and it’s easy to justify the need for an experienced starter to anchor the rotation; but who? Looking around the leagues at starters that a) might clear waivers and b) mighty actually be traded produces a short list.

1. Tim Lincecum, RHP, Giants

This morning Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opined that one starter no one expects might just be the one to move.

Could be a big fish that goes in a deal during the waiver period. Some teams like Lincecum as a valuable bullpen piece down the stretch. The Giants weren’t offered anything good enough at the deadline, but given his salary ($22 million) and the fact he’s in the final year of his deal, the Giants may want to cut bait shortly.

While The Freak hasn’t had a stellar year, his numbers in the last month have been a lot better. Over 33 1/3innings in his last five starts he posted a 3.74 ERA and a 1.010 WHIP, putting up an11K/9 strikeout and a 4.5K/BB ratio allowing  hitters a slash of .203/.263/.390/.653. Included in  those five games was a 13K 4BB no hitter against the Padres and seven innings of two hit one run pitching in a losing cause against the red hot Rays. To get Tim would cost the Braves about $7.5M in payroll and a prospect but he would provide an experienced starter with something to prove headed into his walk year. Moving from a last place team to a division leader and might also give him a boost.

2. Phil Hughes, RHP, Yankees

They Yankees and Braves discussed Hughes prior to the trade deadline but couldn’t agree primarily because the Yankees said they wanted a “first round equivalent” player as they plan to make Hughes a qualifying offer. I doubt that as his comparables seem to be Ervin Santana, Jon Garland and Derek Holland so with David Phelps waiting in the wings he’ll likely be available for less that that.  No one has questioned Hughes’ stuff, he was 18-3 in 2010 and won 16 games last year on a pretty average Yankees team. Getting away from the expectations and unending rectal exams of the New York press might well allow his talent to once again bubble to the top. He’s a free agent who if successful could well sign in Atlanta again next year at a reasonable price.

3. Ted Lilly, LHP, Free Agent (almost)

The Dodgers requested unconditional release waivers on Lilly today, he will become a free agent in 48 hours. He would cost nothing in prospects and only a prorated portion of the major league minimum. Until being injured last year Lilly was pitching pretty well for the Dodgers posting a 3.14 ERA and a 1.130 WHIP. This season the Dodgers new found wealth meant the addition of Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu to the staff so when spring training started Lilly along with a couple of others found no room at the inn. Since Lilly was on the DL at time the Dodgers wanted to play it safe and didn’t make any move until he forced their hand.  They tried to send him to AAA but Lilly refused assignment precipitating his release.

One of our former writers said he feels Lilly is just an older version of Maholm.  I disagree slightly. In his prime Lilly was a better pitcher than Maholm with a better breaking ball and able to pitch himself out of trouble. From 2007 through 2011 he struck out at least 150 hitters a year including years of 180 and 174. I seeTed Lily as more like Tom Glavine  than Maholm but with more strikeouts. He’s also an old head who won’t be awed by the post season and  help keep the young arms feet on the ground. I think he’d `be a nice addition.

There will be more that clear waivers – Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and their ilk – but they won’t actually be traded. It’s hard to believe the Brewers won’t trade Kyle Lohse for the right package as well but he’s overpaid and I feel over rated.

The Bench

It’s hard to know exactly what the GM is looking for. He says a left handed bench bat and a backup infielder are on his list but looking at the bench he has indicates might really mean a left handed hitting corner infielder. If Reed Johnson and Jordan Schafer come back healthy we seem to have a surplus of LH outfielders. Assuming Gerald Laird returns as well we have to RH hitting catchers one of whom can stand in left field and handle routine plays satisfactorily. Also there is out backup shortstop/third baseman/second baseman Paul Janish. Assuming the post season sees an eleven man pitching staff we have room for six bench bats instead of the five we have in the regular season that leaves one spot to fill.

1. Greg Dobbs. LHH, first/third baseman

Dobbs filled that slot pretty well for the Phillies from 2007 through 2010. Even though his numbers this year don’t look particularly good it’s important to remember he’s only had 233 PA going into Sunday’s play and only nine of those in the second half. Dobbs is a good pinch hitter and can act as DH in AL parks.

2. Carlos Pena, LHH, first baseman

Pena has actually already cleared waivers and resides in DFA limbo after the Astros cut him loose. He’s not going to hit for average and he is going to strikeout but, he’s a good first baseman capable of backing up Freddie Freeman and he has lots of pop in his bat. The latter is what you might want from a LH bench bat.  He has lots of post season experience with the Rays and has hit well on the big stage.   He’d also be virtually free.

3. Brad Hawpe. LHH, DH/right fielder/first baseman

The Angels requested unconditional release waivers on Hawpe today for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release; They had designated for assignment on the 28th of July. Hawpe has been up and down since leaving the Rockies returning to the Majors in parts of June and July for the first time since 201.  In 153 Triple-A plate appearances this year he hit .305/.405/.504. between 2006 and 2009 Hawpe hit 99 homers and drove in 373 runs for the Rockies then the bat just seemed to go cold. Like Pena he’d effectively be free.

4. Jeff Keppinger, RHH, second/third baseman shortstop, White Sox

Keppinger will clear waiver simply because of his contract. The White Sox had a rush o f blood to the head and gave him a two year $12M contract last off-season after his career year in Tampa. Keppinger is better than this year’s numbers how but not worth $6M a year.  Still if the pale hose eat say half his 2014 money there could be a deal there. He is right handed however and not as good at SS as Janish though he may be better an third and second.

That’s A Wrap

It’s impossible to say what will happen. For an NL player to fall to us he has to clear everyone else. An Al player has to clear their league and then ours so we’re at the end of the waiver claim food chain.  From a pitching point of view Lincecum, Hughes or perhaps a John Danks would fit and if Lilly isn’t snapped up before the GM talks to his agent you could see him in a Braves uniform. The bench bat list is awfully thin with Dobbs the best I could conjure up.  If no one clears waivers that the GM thinks fits we could continue to see Joey Terdoslavich in that spot.  I do expect them to add a pitcher if they can steal one that slips through waivers and cut a deal. No matter how well the kids pitch we do need an experienced arm; the bench bat would be nice but not essential. That’s my take, what’s yours?

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