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Pt.1 - Making Deals

By Bill Shanks

Foxsportssouth.com

July 12, 2010

This is the first of a four-part series on the state of the 2010 Braves as Major League Baseball takes its All-Star break in Anaheim July 12-14.

Pt.1 - Making Deals | Pt. 2 - Holding on to Prospects | Pt. 3 - Trade Candidates | Pt. 4 - 10 Questions Facing Atlanta

There is nothing more difficult for a baseball general manager than deciding on players to sacrifice for the future in return for immediate help on a major league roster.

You have to look at potential compared to production. What will a player do in the future, compared to what have they done already in the big leagues and how can that help you now?

With less than three weeks before the trade deadline, there are now two types of teams: those in first place and those trying to get into first place. The Atlanta Braves are thankfully one of the major league teams in first place.

That means general manager Frank Wren has got to evaluate the market to see if there are players that might help ensure his team remains in first place.

Plus he might have to make a tough decision: do you include a top prospect in a trade, sacrificing the future, for something that's going to help his team now?

Sometimes those trades are completed and you look back and realize the team trading young prospects didn't take a big hit.

In 1993 the Braves needed offense. They needed a power hitter, and San Diego had first baseman Fred McGriff available.

At the time, the Braves had a top prospect named Ryan Klesko. He played first base, and it was assumed Klesko would be in any deal for McGriff. Why would the Braves need Klesko if they were going to get McGriff?

But general manager John Schuerholz did not want to trade Klesko. He was a top prospect, and Schuerholz resisted in his discussions with the Padres. Klesko was simply off the table.

So the Padres, knowing that only a few teams could afford McGriff, went ahead and made the trade without Klesko. Atlanta shipped outfielders Melvin Nieves and Vince Moore and pitcher Donnie Elliott to the Padres.

We all know how important McGriff became to the Braves. He was a major reason the Braves won the World Series in 1995. But now looking back almost seventeen years later, we also see that the Braves got McGriff for practically nothing.

Nieves, who had hit 26 home runs with Durham and Greenville in 1992 and had 10 home runs for Richmond at the time of the trade, never amounted to anything special. He played in only 29 games with the Padres in 1993 and 1994, and in 1995 he hit 14 home runs, but his batting average was only .205.

The Padres traded Nieves before the 1996 season to Detroit, where he played for two seasons and had 44 home runs. Nieves' final season in the big leagues was 1998, where he was a pinch-hitter for Cincinnati.

Nieves finished with a .231 career batting average, 63 home runs, and 284 hits in 1228 major league at bats.

Elliott pitched in 30 games for the Padres in 1994. He did well, posting a 3.27 ERA as a reliever. But he pitched in just one major league game in 1995 before getting hurt. Elliott bounced around a few more years in the minors before being done at 29 years old.

And Moore never played in the major leagues.

Now that was a good trade. It's not to say those three players would not have done more if they had remained in the Atlanta organization. Maybe so, maybe not. But for what the Braves got in return, and what they gave up, and how those players they gave up performed, you could easily say the McGriff deal was a great trade.

It doesn't always work out that way. In December of 2003 the Braves knew they needed a right fielder. Gary Sheffield had left to join the Yankees, and Time Warner (the Braves' owner at the time) had lowered the payroll making it a bit more difficult to replace him.

The Braves identified St. Louis right fielder J.D. Drew as a trade candidate. Drew was a year away from free agency, but he was a Georgia boy and the Braves hoped having him near home would inspire him to sign a long-term contract.

The Cardinals wanted a pitching prospect in the Atlanta farm system. Adam Wainwright had just finished his Double-A season after the 2003 campaign. He was believed to be the Braves best pitching prospect.

And Cardinals' general manager Walt Jocketty wanted Wainwright in the deal for Drew.

Schuerholz tried to resist, but Jocketty demanded Wainwright. He believed Wainwright could be a solid starting pitcher in the big leagues.

In a 2004 interview, Jocketty recalled what he said to Schuerholz regarding Wainwright.

"John look, we can't make this deal unless Wainwright is in there," Jocketty said to Schuerholz.

Schuerholz tried to get Jocketty to take left-handed prospect Andy Pratt instead of Wainwright. But Jocketty said it had to be Wainwright or he was going to talk with other teams about Drew.

After Schuerholz left a meeting with Jocketty to talk with his inner circle, he came back into the meeting room with an answer for Jocketty.

"Alright, we'll make the deal," Schuerholz told Jocketty.

And the Cardinals got Wainwright.

Drew played one year for the Braves, and it was a good year. He hit .305 with 31 home runs and 93 RBI and helped Atlanta get back into the playoffs.

Drew did not stick around and play close to home. Instead, he took the money and ran to Los Angeles, and then two years later did the same thing when he went to Boston.

But Wainwright has become one of the best pitchers in the game. He helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006 as a reliever. The Cardinals moved him to the rotation in 2007, and you can see him in his first All Star Game on Tuesday night in Anaheim.

The Braves did believe Wainwright was their best pitching prospect at the time. But they did make one mistake. A member of the Atlanta front office said a few years later that they projected Wainwright to be a number four starter in the big leagues.

It's usually OK to trade a projected number four starter. If you've got a pitcher that you project to be a number one or number two starting pitcher in the big leagues, he's probably going to be off limits.

Plus, the Braves had several other pitching prospects in the farm system in 2003 they believed would make it to the big leagues. Pratt, Roman Colon, Chris Waters, Macay McBride, Dan Meyer, Zach Miner, Blaine Boyer, Kyle Davies, Anthony Lerew, and Jose Capellan all made the big leagues.

But no one has gotten even close to what Wainwright has accomplished in St. Louis.

Now, you could argue that acquiring Drew allowed the Braves to get back to the playoffs in 2004, and therefore the trade was worth it. But again, you will be hard not to wince Tuesday night when Wainwright is introduced as an All Star in Anaheim.

That's the gamble you take, however. Ask Detroit's fans if they squirmed every time they saw John Smoltz in an All Star Game, or when he was pitching in World Series games.

Back in 1987 the Braves were on the other side of the trade market. They were a bad team and had a starting pitcher that was marketable. Doyle Alexander was a solid starter, but with the Braves building for the future there was no room for him.

The Braves, who at that time had Bobby Cox in the front office as the general manager, were trying to get a young starting pitcher back in any deal. So when the Tigers wanted Alexander for the stretch run that year, Cox asked for a young pitcher in Double-A in return- John Smoltz.

Now Alexander went 9-0 for the Tigers in 11 starts in the final two months of the 1987 season. That helped Detroit win the American League East that year.

So the purpose of the trade was to acquire a veteran to help get Detroit to the postseason. The risk for them was that the young pitcher they gave up would turn out to be something special.

Alexander went 14-11 in 1988 for Detroit, and then he was 6-18 in his final year in the big leagues in 1989 for the Tigers. So he was 29-29 in two-plus seasons, but again, he helped them win the division in 1987.

Smoltz? Well, he's going to go to the Hall of Fame one day. 213 wins. 154 saves.

And that's the gamble teams take when they trade young players for a veteran that could help get them to the playoffs.

The Braves took that gamble three years ago. They needed another bat, and Texas had first baseman Mark Teixeira available. Teixeira was under contract for the 2007 season and then would become a free agent after the 2008 campaign. So the Braves were assured of having him under contract for at least a year and a half.

The price for Teixeira was steep. The Braves traded five prospects to Texas: catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus, and three pitchers – Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, and Beau Jones.

The Braves knew Brian McCann pretty much blocked Saltalamacchia. Yunel Escobar had just come up from the minors and impressed, so the Braves felt he was the future at shortstop. That made them believe they could trade Andrus.

And the Braves believed they had enough pitching to compensate for the loss of the three arms they sent to Texas.

Teixeira did what he does, but that really didn't help Atlanta much. They didn't make the playoffs in 2007, and after they sputtered coming out of the 2008 All Star Break, the Braves traded Teixeira to the Angels.

Losing Saltalamacchia has not really hurt, since McCann has established himself as the best catcher in the National League over the last several seasons. But the loss of Andrus and Feliz is going to sting a bit.

Both players will be on the American League All Star Team Tuesday night in Anaheim. Andrus is one of the best young players in the AL, while Feliz has become one of the league's best closers.

So that trade didn't work out the way the Braves had hoped.

It's not going to be easy seeing Wainwright, Andrus, and Feliz in Tuesday's All Star Game, knowing all three were brought up in the Atlanta farm system but not one played a game in a major league uniform for the Braves.

And again, that's the gamble you take when you make those types of trades.

Tomorrow in part two of the series we'll look at what GM Frank Wren faces this season as the Braves look for another bat and what difficult decisions he might face in sacrificing the future for a trip to the playoffs.

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By Bill Shanks

Foxsportssouth.com

July 13, 2010

This is the second of a four-part series on the state of the 2010 Braves as Major League Baseball takes its All-Star break in Anaheim July 12-14.

Pt.1 - Making Deals | Pt. 2 - Holding on to Prospects | Pt. 3 - Trade Candidates | Pt. 4 - 10 Questions Facing Atlanta

As Atlanta general manager Frank Wren prepares for the July 31 trade deadline, he’s going to face a big dilemma.

Every team he talks trade with is going to ask for pitching.

And that is what could make this trade season somewhat difficult for Wren and the Braves. With perhaps the best group of young pitchers they’ve accumulated in years, how does he trade the ‘right’ one?

When you trade a pitching prospect, you have to get good return back, especially if that prospect is rated as a potential top-of-the-rotation guy. And you also must make sure you have others to step right in and replace that prospect if he is traded.

Keeping the farm system deep is one of the hallmarks of a successful franchise. You have to make sure there is a steady PIRATED VIDEO IS ILLEGAL of players that can come up to your big league roster, and at the same time have players that can be traded.

Those are the two functions of any farm system.

The Braves are in this position to make a move that might make them the favorite to win the World Series – not just the National League East, but the World Series. They are a very good team now, and another bat could make this a great team.

The only question is the cost. What will the Braves have to give up to get that extra bat?

Current Starters

Atlanta has an overload of starting pitchers now, with Kenshin Kawakami banished to the bullpen after Kris Medlen pitched better for two months. The rotation has Tim Hudson at the top, followed by Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe, and Medlen.

Kawakami is not going to have much value right now, since he has another year left on his contract for $6.667 million. Kawakami is better than the way he’s pitched in the first three months, but he just doesn’t have much value right now. He’s older (35), not inexpensive, and he’s not done well overall. That’s not someone who you can use to get anyone of value back in return.

Medlen is another matter. A team the Braves are talking trade with might believe the Braves could trade Medlen and put Kawakami back in the rotation. That’s a logical thought, but the Braves would want a lot in return for Medlen.

Medlen is only 24 years old, and with his success as a starting pitcher this year (5-0, 3.41 ERA in 11 starts), his value is very high. It may not be as high as Hanson’s value, but it’s close. There are a lot of teams that could insert Medlen right into the middle of a rotation.

The Braves would probably have to get someone back that was under contract past this year if they were to give up Medlen. So in other words, he’s probably not going anywhere for a rental.

The Braves aren’t trading Hanson or Hudson. Lowe’s big contract keeps him from being an option, as he’s owed $30 million the next two seasons. And while Jurrjens’ name may pop up this winter, it’s doubtful the Braves would pull the trigger on him now.

But there is one more arm at the major league level that teams could target: left-handed reliever Jonny Venters. He’s arguably been the best rookie reliever in the National League this season. Venters is 25; he throws gas; and his stuff is outstanding.

Will the Braves need to properly evaluate Venters before the trade deadline? Some in the organization do wonder if Venters could be a starting pitcher. But we see the rotation is already six deep, and all six of those pitchers could return next year as well.

The Braves could consider Venters to take over for Billy Wagner as the closer for 2011. That’s an option. Or they might believe he’ll be most effective in the same role he’s in now.

But Venters has to have significant value right now, regardless of what role the Braves envision him in for the future. They’re not going to give Venters up easily, so like with Medlen, it would have to be a major position player coming back in return.

Then you look to the Braves minor league system, and that’s where it gets complicated.

<BR style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold">Farm System

The Braves have four outstanding pitching prospects. In fact, right-hander Julio Teheran was just rated as the sixth best prospect in the game by Baseball America, while left-hander Mike Minor and right-hander Arodys Vizcaino were also included in the top 26-50 prospects on the list.

Those three and right-hander Randall Delgado are all considered major pitching prospects. And any team that talks trade with Wren would be foolish to not ask for one of these four pitchers.

Let’s look at each of these four and begin with Teheran.

Julio Teheran

He’s off limits. Forget about any deal involving Teheran. It’s just not going to happen. He’s arguably the best pitching prospect in baseball right now.

Teheran is only 19 years old. He’s got a blazing mid-90s fastball and two above average secondary pitches. Scouts say he could probably pitch well in the big leagues right now with his stuff alone, but most believe Teheran will be ready sometime in the middle of 2011.

Teheran has been compared to both Pedro Martinez and Felix Hernandez. He’s built similarly to Martinez, and like Hernandez, Teheran could make the big leagues at a very young age and be effective.

Teheran has made 15 starts in the minors this season, split between Rome and Myrtle Beach. He’s got a 2.13 ERA, with 68 hits allowed in 88.2 innings, with 22 walks and 103 strikeouts.

While you don’t have to worry about Teheran being in a deal this summer, since he is considered close (maybe a year away) by some, it does make you think about who could be available above him.

For instance, if the Braves do believe Teheran could be ready sometime next summer, would that make Medlen more available? Regardless of how well Medlen does, he’s probably going to be looked at as the fifth starter for a while.

Mike Minor

Then you enter Minor into the equation. He’s in Triple-A Gwinnett right now, and most believe Minor will be ready to join the Atlanta rotation as the fifth starter at the beginning of the 2011 season.

Minor has made 17 starts between Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett. He’s got a 3.70 ERA, with 82 hits allowed in 99.2 innings, with 39 walks and 124 strikeouts.

Scouts believe Minor could be a number two or three starter in a rotation one day, so that’s a premium left-handed pitching prospect. Minor has exceeded expectations this year in his first full season, with better velocity and sharper breaking stuff.

We’ve already heard one rumor involving Minor. Peter Gammons tweeted last week a Minor-for-Corey Hart rumor. Hart is the Brewers’ outfielder that is rumored to be available, and he would be a perfect fit for the Atlanta lineup.

However, out of all the pitchers we’ve mentioned, with the exception of reliever Venters, Minor is the only left-hander. That makes him extremely valuable to the Braves, and also makes it unlikely Minor would be included in a deal.

So if you’ve got five guys in the Atlanta rotation right now, and Kawakami is a sixth guy currently in the bullpen, with Venters a possibility to move to the rotation, plus Minor ready for opening day 2011 and then Teheran ready sometime next summer… you’ve got a very crowded situation.

That’s nine pitchers for five spots.

Opposing teams know this, and that’s why they are going to try and take advantage of the situation.

It’s very unlikely Teheran or Minor would be included in any deal. But if the Braves have those two off limits, teams might look to the third and fourth best pitching prospects in the system.

<BR style="FONT-STYLE: italic; FONT-WEIGHT: bold">Randall Delgado

And this is where it gets even more complicated. The third best prospect is Delgado, a right-hander in Myrtle Beach.

Delgado is 20 years old. He’s made 18 starts this season for the Pelicans and has a 2.82 ERA. Delgado has allowed 82 hits in 105.1 innings, with 26 walks and 108 strikeouts.

While he’s not rated as high as Teheran, there are some scouts and coaches that believe Delgado has just has much potential as his teammate. He’s probably right with Teheran as far as overall potential.

But you’ve got to have Minor higher than Delgado on the pecking order since Minor is closer to the big leagues and he is the only left-hander. So if the Braves are going to be protective of Teheran and Minor, does that make Delgado more expendable?

Scouts believe Delgado could be on the same timetable as Teheran – possibly ready sometime in the middle or late during the 2011 season. But if he is ready about then, where is he going to pitch? The Braves rotation is already crowded now, and then you have Teheran and Minor possibly ahead of Delgado.

This is where the Braves must be careful. If they feel Delgado has as much potential, or close to the same potential as Teheran, he can only be traded in a major deal – for a player that will be around for longer than a half season and someone who could really make a difference.

It’s easy to simply ask, “Well, where are all these guys going to pitch?” That’s logical to wonder. But the big thing is about getting equal value. If the Braves feel Delgado has the potential to be a one or a two in a rotation, they’ve got to get something really good for him if in fact he is more expendable than others.

A National League scout recently said about Delgado: “They better be careful with Delgado. I’ve got him rated higher than Teheran. He’s got a better body, better downward plane, and his secondary pitches are equally impressive.”

Arodys Vizcaino

The fourth really great pitching prospect is Vizcaino, who was acquired from the Yankees last winter in the Javier Vazquez trade. But Vizcaino is probably unavailable for an entirely different reason.

The Braves had to shut Vizcaino down a few weeks ago with a partially torn elbow ligament. He’s currently in Orlando at the Braves complex and they expect him to start throwing again soon. But with Vizcaino on the shelf, it’s doubtful a team would be interested in him until he can show he is healthy.

Before his injury, Vizcaino was proving he belongs in the conversation as one of the top prospects in the game. He started 15 games between Rome and Myrtle Beach, with a 2.71 ERA. Vizcaino allowed 76 hits in 83 innings, with 12 walks and 77 strikeouts.

Vizcaino did not allow an earned run in his last five games with Rome (33.2 innings), and he did not allow a walk in his last 43 innings with the club.

So he was having a phenomenal season before he was shut down. But the injury will harm his value. If the Braves want to hold on to the top three prospects, it’ll be tough for them to convince a team to bite on Vizcaino.

And we’re not even sure they’d want to do that if he were healthy. The Braves really think Vizcaino is a top prospect, and once he strengthens that elbow they think Vizcaino can get right back on track.

If the Braves are ****-bent on keeping those main top four prospects, who might then they put on the table in trade discussions?

The Rest

Well, there are several pitchers in the farm system that do have significant value. And no, don’t even think about mentioning Craig Kimbrel. Teams might mention his name to Wren, but it’s certain the GM will quickly shake his head showing the future closer is unavailable.

One reliever that could draw interest is left-hander Mike Dunn, who has been outstanding in Gwinnett this season. Dunn, another pitcher from the Vazquez trade, has a 1.08 ERA in 32 games in AAA, with 55 strikeouts in 41.2 innings.

The only thing that had been a problem for Dunn is his control, but he’s got 20 walks this season and has really improved in that area. Dunn has a fastball in the 93-94 mph range, and it occasionally hits 96 mph. Plus, Dunn’s slider is an above-average pitch.

The issue for Dunn is that right now he’s blocked. He’s clearly ready to help out in a big league bullpen, but right now the Braves have three lefties in the bullpen: Venters, Wagner, and Eric O’Flaherty.

That would make you think Dunn could be available. But remember, Wagner is retiring at the end of this season. And if the Braves do entertain the thought of moving Venters to the rotation, Dunn could have a big impact.

There is a chance Dunn could be a huge trade chip, but the Braves do value him highly and won’t give him away for nothing.

There are other starting pitchers who do project to be members of a major league rotation one day. They are not rated as high as the top four prospects, but still thought of enough that other teams certainly should have interest.

Lefty Jose Ortegano is in Gwinnett. Most believe he could be ready in 2012, after a full season in Triple-A. Ortegano is projected as a bottom-of-the-rotation starting pitcher by some scouts.

Right-hander Erik Cordier is in Mississippi. He’s got a 4.22 ERA in 17 starts. Cordier has electric stuff, with a fastball that sits in the 94-96 mph range. Walks are an issue (53 in 96 innings), but some scouts believe he could be a bottom-of-the-rotation starter. With the depth in Atlanta, he might only be a reliever, making him attractive as trade bait if a team thinks he could be a starter one day.

J.J. Hoover has made 17 starts for Myrtle Beach. He’s got a 3.83 ERA. Hoover is occasionally compared to Brad Penny, although most believe he could one day be in the back end of a major league rotation. Hoover must improve his changeup, and if that happens he’ll be ranked even higher. But Hoover does have value.

And the final starting pitcher to mention is right-hander Robinson Lopez. Some scouts think he might be right there with the ‘big four’ in a matter of weeks. He’s got a curveball that rivals Teheran’s hook, and the Braves really believe Lopez is ready to take off.

His stats are ordinary in Rome, with a 3.72 ERA in 19 games (11 starts), with 63 strikeouts in 77.1 innings. But anyone that has seen Lopez will tell you that the 19-year-old has great potential.

We mentioned in the first part of this segment how the Braves had a number (11 to be exact) of minor league pitchers in 2003 that eventually made it to the majors. That’s pretty impressive. Not all farm systems can gloat about getting that many to the big leagues.

This group here may have higher ceilings than those minor leaguers seven years ago. There are several that aren’t just potential starting pitchers, but potential top-of-the-rotation starting pitchers. And that’s what will make the Braves extremely careful when evaluating who they think they can trade.

Sure, they can’t keep them all. The Braves just aren’t going to have room for all of these prospects. Several of these pitchers are going to be traded. You just have to hope the Braves get good value when they are dealt away.

<BR style="FONT-STYLE: italic">Tomorrow in part three of the series we’ll look at which outfielders around baseball the Braves may look at when examining the trade market before July 31.

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Wow!!! Reading pt.2 really gets me excited about our future pitching. We are extremely deep. I look for 1 or more of the guys to be traded for a bat in the next couple of weeks. We just don't have enough room for all of them, but we do need another bat.

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I understand the need behind those trades and the fact that you can't win em all but before you make that kind of deal you'd better be **** sure you can re-sign the player you're trading for. 3 All Stars for two rental players is pretty bad.

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I understand the need behind those trades and the fact that you can't win em all but before you make that kind of deal you'd better be **** sure you can re-sign the player you're trading for. 3 All Stars for two rental players is pretty bad.

No doubt about that. Hopefully we learned our lesson from the JD Drew trade.

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Wow!!! Reading pt.2 really gets me excited about our future pitching. We are extremely deep. I look for 1 or more of the guys to be traded for a bat in the next couple of weeks. We just don't have enough room for all of them, but we do need another bat.

It's probably the deepest we've ever been pitching wise in our minor league system.

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Here's part 3. There is no mention of Gonzalez being a potential player we trade for. I think this trade came out of nowhere. Escobars performance right before the AS game, was probably the final straw that made us look for this trade.

By Bill Shanks

Foxsportssouth.com

July 14, 2010

In the final part of our look at what might happen before the July 31 trade deadline, we look at the players that might be available to the Braves if they are to look for another piece for the lineup.

Pt.1 - Making Deals | Pt. 2 - Armed and Ready | Pt. 3 - Trade Candidates

Teams could wait until the very last minute to decide if they are going to be sellers or buyers, depending on how they play coming out of the All Star Break.

Here are 15 names to keep in mind that might be on the Braves’ radar:

Corey Hart – OF – Milwaukee Brewers - RHH – 28 years old – 2010 salary: $4.8 million

He’ll come into Atlanta Thursday night with the Brewers, so the Braves will get a good look at him. Hart is having the best season of his five-year career, with 21 home runs and 65 RBI in 301 at bats. His previous home run high was 24 in 2007. Hart is affordable, and he’s under contract through 2011. So the Brewers are going to want a high price if they do put him on the market. There is no denying another right-handed power hitter like Hart could give the Braves a very dangerous lineup. The Brewers are going to want pitching, and that’s exactly what the Braves have available. Last year there was a Kelly Johnson-for-Corey Hart rumor, so the Braves have possibly had interest in him before. Hart will be eligible for arbitration this winter, and he could possibly double his salary if he continues to play well.

Josh Willingham – OF – Washington Nationals – RHH – 31 years old – 2010 salary: $4.6 million

Here’s a kid from Florence, Alabama that reportedly would love to play for the Braves. Willingham is hitting .281 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI at the break, with an on base percentage over .400. The Nationals are not going anywhere this year, so it’s likely he’ll be available. But the problem is Washington will probably not want pitching in return. The Nats have a number of pitchers right now, with more coming back from health issues that could make things crowded for them next spring. They need position players. Might the Braves try to trade Jordan Schafer to Washington? The former scouting director, who drafted Schafer, Roy Clark, is now an executive with the Nationals. If there are talks between the two teams Clark will know who to ask for. Willingham will be eligible for arbitration this winter and can become a free agent after the 2011 season. So if the Braves were to get him, it wouldn’t be a rental. He’d probably be back to play left field next year.

Cody Ross – OF – Florida Marlins – RHH – 29 years old – 2010 salary: $4.45 million

Ross has averaged 23 home runs in the last two seasons, but he has only seven so far this season. Ross is hitting .283 with 46 RBI, so he can be a dangerous bat. Ross can also play all three outfield positions. He’s eligible for arbitration this winter again and will be a free agent after the 2011 season. He could be a contributor, but it’s unlikely Ross would be looked at as a difference-maker in the lineup. The price may be more affordable in a trade, but would the Braves want to trade prospects inside the division?

Jayson Werth – OF – Philadelphia Phillies – RHH – 31 years old – 2010 salary: $7 million

This is solely based on the possibility the Phillies fall back even more than they are now in the National League East. But there have been rumors the Phillies would entertain an offer for Werth, who can be a free agent at the end of this season. Therefore, Werth would be a rental player. And it’s even doubtful the Phillies would do anything to help a team inside their division. Werth is having a decent season, but most expected more with him in a contract year. He’s got 13 home runs and 49 RBI, but he’s been inconsistent in the first half. It seems the Phillies are not going to bring him back, and Werth looks to be the next overpaid outfielder. But if they fall out, there is a chance they try to get something for him. The price would be higher from Atlanta, however.

<BR style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold">Garrett Jones – OF – Pittsburgh Pirates – RHH – 29 years old – 2010 salary: $425,000

Jones was actually drafted by the Braves out of high school in the 1999 draft. He was in the farm system for three years before being released. Jones bounced around with the Twins for many years and made it to the big leagues at 26 years old in 2007. Then Jones became a regular for Pittsburgh last year and hit 21 home runs. He has 10 so far this season, with 51 RBI in 323 at bats. Jones is still really cheap, not even eligible for arbitration until after 2011. So it’s unlikely the Pirates would trade Jones, but it’s Pittsburgh, so you can’t count anything out. The price would be higher, since he would be under control for four more years.

Matt Kemp – OF – Los Angeles Dodgers – RHH – 25 years old – 2010 salary: $4 million

This deserves mention since Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com brought this up a few weeks ago. Kemp upset Joe Torre when he had words with bench coach Bob Schaefer, which prompted Torre to bench Kemp for a few games. The Dodgers would want a major haul for Kemp, probably with Jair Jurrjens included. But it is something to keep in mind, since the Dodgers do need pitching and that’s what Atlanta has available. Kemp is young and has great power, but his defense in the outfield is not good. This is a long shot, but if the Dodgers did put Kemp’s name out there, you’d think the Braves would have to at least ask what it would take to get a deal done. Put Kemp’s bat in the middle of the lineup and the Braves would be very dangerous. Kemp has a $6.95 million contract for 2011, and he’s not eligible for free agency until after 2012.

Lance Berkman – 1B – Houston Astros – Switch-hitter – 34 years old – 2010 salary: $14.5 million

This would only be possible if the Braves believed Berkman could still play the outfield, but he hasn’t done that since 2007. Berkman is available, however, and there’s no doubt he’s still a dangerous bat. Berkman started the season late after having arthroscopic knee surgery. He’s showing power again, with 12 home runs in 256 at bats, and the OBP is still solid at .370. The Astros would have to eat part of his remaining salary and the buyout on his 2011 contract ($2 million) to get the Braves interested. And again, he’d have to play in the outfield, which is doubtful. He’s worth mentioning only because he’s really available and can still hit. But there are obvious reasons that don’t make him the best candidate.

Xavier Nady – 1B/OF – Chicago Cubs – RHH – 31 years old – 2010 salary: $3.3 million

The Braves reportedly had interest in Nady to play first base before they signed Troy Glaus, and now that looks like a good decision. Nady has not gotten much playing time with the Cubs, and he’s hitting only .231 with four home runs and 19 RBI in 134 at bats. He wouldn’t cost much, but what kind of contribution could you expect? Is he much better than Matt Diaz at this point? Probably not.

B.J. Upton – OF – Tampa Bay Rays – RHH – 26 years old next month – 2010 salary: $3 million

This is an interesting name to keep in mind. Some believe Upton could be available in the right deal. In fact, when the Rays talked to Seattle about Cliff Lee before Lee went to Texas, it was reported Upton could be in a deal. He’s struggled this season, with a .230 batting average and a low OBP. But there is no disputing Upton’s talent. Some believe Upton simply needs a change of scenery to reach his potential. Upton can run, and he would bring a different element to the Atlanta lineup. Upton is not eligible for free agency until after the 2012 season, so the price would probably be high even with his struggles. He’s athletic and there is talent there, as he showed in 2007 (24 home runs, 22 stolen bases).

Jose Bautista – OF – Toronto Blue Jays – RHH – 29 years old – 2010 salary: $2.4 million

Who would have guessed Bautista would lead the American League in home runs at the All Star Break? Well, he does with 23. His previous single season high was 16, so Bautista is playing above his head. That’s what has many wondering if the Blue Jays would take advantage of his value and get something in return. Bautista can play right, center, left, first base, and third base, so his versatility is valuable. Bautista is eligible for arbitration this winter, and can be a free agent after next season.

Ty Wigginton – INF/OF – Baltimore Orioles – RHH – 32 years old – 2010 salary: $3.5 million

He’s mainly an infielder now, but Wigginton can still play the outfield. He’s got 14 home runs and 45 RBI, with a mediocre average and OBP. But Wigginton could be a good backup option to bring on as another Omar Infante-type that could play all over the diamond and be a solid bat off the bench. Wigginton wouldn’t cost much since he’s a rental, and the Orioles are starting over again. Again, not a difference-maker, but wouldn’t be a bad addition for the right price.

Jose Guillen – OF – Kansas City Royals – RHH – 34 years old – 2010 salary: $12 million

Sources have told Foxsportssouth.com the Braves have not talked with the Royals about Guillen or David DeJesus, another outfielder that might be available. But that could change, as we get closer to the deadline. Guillen is a head case, but he’s always had a good reputation in his own clubhouse. How would he react in a winning situation for a few months? Guillen has mainly been Kansas City’s designated hitter this year, with only a few games in the outfield. But there is no doubt he is a dangerous right-handed bat. Guillen has 15 home runs and 54 RBI at the break. The salary is an issue, even though the closer to the deadline we are the less he has to be paid by his new club. So if he were dealt near the 31st Guillen would be owed about $4 million the rest of the season. If there are questions about Guillen’s defense, this might be a moot point. But you can’t ignore his stats and his production from the right side of the plate. He would be a rental, since he’s a free agent at the end of the year.

<BR style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold">David DeJesus – OF – Kansas City Royals – LHH – 30 years old - 2010 salary: $4.7 million

Well, first off he’s a left-handed hitter. The Braves would probably prefer a right-handed hitter. And second, DeJesus is much like Nate McLouth. If McLouth would come back and stay healthy and get on track offensively, they wouldn’t need a DeJesus-type player. He’s hitting .326 with an OBP close to .400. DeJesus doesn’t have great power or great speed, but he’s a lifetime .290 hitter. The Royals are looking to the future, so they could want a younger, cheaper outfielder (again, Schafer?). There is a club option on DeJesus for 2011 at $6 million, with a $0.5 million buyout.

Scott Podsednik – OF – Kansas City Royals – LHH – 34 years old – 2010 salary: $1.75 million

Another Royal, another left-handed hitter, Podsednik is a speed merchant that will probably be available. He’s having another solid season, hitting .301 after hitting .304 for the White Sox last season. The Braves probably want to make sure that if they bring in an outfielder he’s significantly better than what they have. Could Podsednik do better than Gregor Blanco has the last few weeks? It’s a fair question. There is a club option for 2011 for $2 million (with a $100,000 buyout), so Podsednik is very affordable.

Austin Kearns – OF – Cleveland Indians – RHH – 30 years old – 2010 salary: $750,000

Kearns has played well with Cleveland, hitting seven home runs in 266 at bats. But how much better is Kearns compared to Matt Diaz? That’s a question the Braves would have to ask. He doesn’t have the power he used to, so he’s not as dangerous in the lineup. But Kearns is extremely affordable, and it would not cost much to get him in a trade. If the Braves just want another fourth outfielder, this could be an option. But they already have a lot of outfielders now. They need something special if they’re going to get another bat.

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no mention of Adam Dunn who I think is a huge sleeper pick for the trade deadline...the only thing is I doubt he can play LF or well atleast.

I think it's because only recently did anyone think the Nats would be willing to trade Dunn. They've indicated that the want to extend him, but Dunn has publicly been cool to the idea. Of course, that could just be Dunn hardballing them.

Personally, I think the Nats would be idiots to trade Dunn. Even if he walks, they'll get two 1st round picks in compensation, which is likely no worse than what they'd get in a trade.

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And of the players listed in the article, I'd list them:

1. Kemp

2. Upton

3. Willingham

4. Werth

5. Bautista

6. Jones

***

7. Wigginton

8. Berkman

9. DeJesus

10. Kearns

11. Ross

12. Guillen

13. Hart

14. Nady

15. Podsednik

The dividing like is between guys that I think would actually help versus guys that probably aren't better than what we have now. Well, except Berkman, who I'm pretty sure can't play the OF anymore.

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And of the players listed in the article, I'd list them:

1. Kemp

2. Upton

3. Willingham

4. Werth

5. Bautista

6. Jones

***

7. Wigginton

8. Berkman

9. DeJesus

10. Kearns

11. Ross

12. Guillen

13. Hart

14. Nady

15. Podsednik

The dividing like is between guys that I think would actually help versus guys that probably aren't better than what we have now. Well, except Berkman, who I'm pretty sure can't play the OF anymore.

Yeah, that's pretty much the order I would rank. Would love to get Kemp. At 25, he would be great to team up with Heyward. I really don't think we are done making moves. I think Escobars performance (antics) right before the AS game, was the final straw for him and forced us to make this current trade. But I feel we have another one, that really depends on how well Heyward and McLost do in their returns.

Edited by sdogg
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