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Braves Purchase Contract of 2B Phil Gosselin

In at least the third wave of cascading injuries to hit the Atlanta Braves this year, [Dan Uggla's replacement] Tyler Pastornicky is going to be out of action for the rest of 2013, prompting the Braves to purchase the contract of 24-year-old second baseman Philip Gosselin from AAA Gwinnett to replace him. Pastornicky came up gimpy after banging his left knee into Jason Heyward while both were in pursuit of a pop-fly during Wednesday’s 6-3 victory over Philadelphia.  It was evidently a lot worse than it it looked at the time.  He will be having surgery to repair a torn ACL on Monday.  His season is done.  Not the first time that a Braves player has taken the worst end of a collision with Jason.

A corresponding move will have to be made on the 40-man roster to make space for Gosselin – most probably by moving one of the longer-term injured players to the 60-day DL.  [Yes:  Cristhian Martinez has been placed on the 60-day DL]

Righty-hitting Phil Gosselin was the 5th round draft pick of Atlanta’s in 2010, from the University of Virginia.  Despite his quick rise to AAA, we do not have him ranked in our top 20 view of the Atlanta farm system… he’s probably in the next tier or two below that, due to being a light hitter over his time in the organization (it’s pretty evident that we don’t even have a decent photo of him – sorry about that).  Bright spots?  He has blossomed to a .277 average this year at AAA – his best hitting since a .294 at Rome in 2010.  But he is strictly a singles hitter:  2 homers, 3 doubles, and 1 triple against 40 singles this year.  His biggest personal highlight was probably a homer hit off of Stephen Strasburg in the NCAA baseball tournament in 2010.

Honestly, I had expected the Braves to call up Tommy La Stella from AA Mississippi.  He’s been hitting a ton, and provides solid defense.  I was also hoping to use the graphic at right, but… oh well.  The reports I am hearing are that Gosselin has a better glove at second (though he has recorded more errors this year than La Stella), but clearly La Stella would have been the better choice offensively.  More on the possible reason for this later.

Regardless, Gosselin should easily prove to be better in the field than both Uggla (who “scrambles” for baseballs, then unleashes semi-guided throws) and Pastornicky (who has “happy feet”).

It will certainly be a baptism by fire for Gosselin as he faces the Nationals’ pitching – with Strasburg – this weekend, albeit in the friendly arena that is Waffle House Pancake Turner Field. But recognize that this move is being done despite the immediate availability of Paul Janish. Janish is a terrific defender, no doubt, but his bat leaves a gaping hole in an otherwise potent lineup – a hole that Gosselin won’t really fill, frankly.  In addition, Janish has often been used as a late-inning replacement for Chris Johnson, a pattern likely to continue. [see update below]


Could Atlanta Have Made a Trade Instead?

Yes, that was possible. Last week, we suggested Michael Young for exactly this kind of reason: the need for an experienced hitting infielder. I would have to believe that Frank Wren at least talked with Ruben Amaro, Jr. of the Phillies about him, though Young would have to be convinced to (once again) waive his no-trade contract consideration. Then again, there’s a much bigger story going on in Philadelphia today.

All other trade options (known to have cleared waivers) has some serious flaws. The best defender, Brendan Ryan, is available; but you could argue that we already have him on the roster (he wears the name ‘Janish’ on the back of his jersey). Ryan is having a terrible year at the plate, hitting .191 with a .261 OBP. The Royals just picked up Emilio Bonifacio, but he would have been another Jose Constanza (except that Bonifacio also plays infield). Greg Dobbs? Meh – .235, 35 years old, and hasn’t played second base since 2007… for only 4 games. Basically, none of the trade options can hit their weight – excepting Young.

In the meantime, there’s still a couple of weeks remaining in August: other trade deals might still be possible… and there are still 40-man roster adjustments that could be made to accommodate a trade. So today’s move might not be the end of the discussion on the subject, given that Pastornicky is done for the year… for I see Gosselin as a gap filler; not a solution.

[Update:  Friday Night's lineup is out:  Paul Janish is starting at second base.  I expect they're trying for a trade.]


An Aside…

Since writing about the 40-man roster on Wednesday, I was accused of prophesying the downfall of Pastornicky – apparently even suggesting the same kind of injury that has now befallen him. Oops. But that scenario was mentioned because I believed it to be the only one that would force Frank Wren’s hand to add yet another name to the 40-man roster.  Curious.


Those Injuries: Rinse and Repeat

The bullpen, the outfield, and now second base. Back in early July, the entire Braves’ outfield suddenly all came up lame, resulting in both Joey Terdoslavich and Todd Cunningham getting added to the roster. Earlier, the loss of Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty within a week – plus other injuries to Cristhian Martinez forced Alex Wood, Kameron Loe, and Luis Ayala (via trade), et al, onto the roster. And that didn’t even count Tim Hudson. Loe has since been removed from the 40-man, but this sudden spate of Second Sacker Sight and Scoping (MRI) Symptoms has put the state of the 40-man roster into the spotlight once again.

But congratulations, Phil: you’re the next contestant to play in our exciting new gameshow “Are You Healthy Enough For October?” But there is some hope overall for the Braves: Uggla  should be back soon; Paul Maholm should be available soon; Jordan Walden may be back for the weekend.

Darn good thing the Braves have a big lead!

MINOR LEAGUE IMPACT:  There are no other second basemen on the Gwinnett roster.  Best guess is that La Stella will be bumped up to AAA, Emerson Landoni to AA.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Injury Philip Gosselin Tyler Pastornicky

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