Mar 1, 2014; Melbourne, FL, USA; A scout measures pitch speeds with a radar gun during spring training game between the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves scouting Chicago Cubs lefties tonight!

The Atlanta Braves are in serious need of a left-handed pitcher….

This is well-known by all that have been watching the season-long struggles of Luis Avilan. Avilan, according to Fangraphs, has been worth -0.2 WAR this year.  Coming off of 2 impressive seasons of which the Braves desperately needed, Avilan just hasn’t found that swing and miss magic that he was showing his first year, or the ability to keep the extra base hits at bay that he showed the last 2 years.  Last year, there were signs that Avilan was going to regress.  Even though his ERA was astounding at 1.52, his K/9 dropped by almost 3 per 9 and his BB/9 went up from 2.5 to 3 per 9.  The other tell-tale sign that Avilan was likely to regress was his BABIP against, which was .205.  The average Major Leaguer has a  BABIP between .280 and .300, so .205 is very abnormal, much like Chris Johnson‘s abnormally high BABIP of .394 was sure to regress. Both scenarios happened this year and the Braves have paid the price.

So, what’s next for Luis Avilan and the Atlanta Braves?

There’s no doubt that the Braves would like to move Avilan to second in the pecking order of left-handed pitching off the bench.  Earlier today, we learned that the Braves have interest in Andrew Miller of the Red Sox, who is pitching brilliantly in his last year of team control.  However, he’s not the only LHP that the Braves are coveting, as we have found out via tweet tonight:

have 1 of their top scouts on , who have pair of LHRs who could fill ATL’s priority need, James Russell & Wesley Wright

I spilt some ink a few weeks ago that had some crazy trade scenarios involving the Cubs which were…ummmm…far-fetched.  However, acquiring one of James Russell or Wesley Wright should be very doable for the Braves.  Both guys are arb-eligible for 2015 so this isn’t simply just a lefty rental.  The way Avilan is pitching, the Braves would be doing themselves a favor if they had another lefty they could depend on for next year.   Here are the stats for each player:

James Russell- 25.1 innings pitched, 7.5K/9, 3.9BB/9,  2.84 ERA (4.49xFIP) Worth: -0.1 WAR

Wesley Wright- 24.1 innings pitched, 7.4K/9, 2.6BB9, 2.59 ERA (3.46xFIP) Worth: 0.3 WAR

Neither one of these guys throw exceptionally hard, topping out at about 90 MPH and by looking at their careers, there really isn’t much to distinguish who’s the more valuable of the 2. These guys are what I’d call the 2nd tier of LHP trade targets (strictly LOOGY material, ala Scott Downs), 1st tier being Andrew Miller (who can get them out on both sides of the plate). However, Andrew Miller doesn’t come with another year of control.

The Cubs also have some interesting buy-low options in Nate Schierholtz, Chris Coghlan, Emilio Bonifacio (currently on the DL) , and even Edwin Jackson who I think could be a pretty good pickup,especially with a good defense behind him.  They are stockpiling position prospects right now and could use some pitching to compliment them.

In my opinion, trading with the Cubs to fill a few needs seems likely the best bet.  I’d like to see the Braves show interest in Bonifacio and Schierholtz as well as Wright and Russell as I think some combination of the 4 would really work well for our bench and bullpen.

How ’bout this Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs trade, huh, Huh, HUH?

Cubs receive: David Hale and Juan Jaime for

Braves receive: Wesley Wright, Emilio Bonifacio, and Nate Schierholtz with the Cubs sending over a few million to offset Schierholtz’ salary.

Get it done, Wren.

Last little nugget concerning a Cubs/Braves swap

Many are probably wondering why I left out Luis Valbuena.  Truth be told, I’m terrified to know what he’d cost us.  However, being a left-handed batter that is versatile enough to play anywhere, he’d most definitely fill a few of the Braves holes.  I like the above- listed candidates because they have proven track records of which they’re not performing up to them right now.  Valbuena is outperforming every expectation and buy-high’s cost.


Tags: Atlanta Braves Chris Coghlan David Hale Edwin Jackson Emilio Bonifacio James Russell Juan Jaime Nate Schierholtz Wesley Wright

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