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Braves still looking to improve; could Cody Ross help?


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Braves still looking to improve; could Cody Ross help?

2:47 pm July 21, 2010, by David O'Brien

OK, so Cody Ross is hitting .280 with a modest seven homers and .740 OPS, including a pretty weak .332 OBP. So why would the Braves be interested in possibly acquiring him before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline?

I'm glad you asked.

cody-ross-big-cut-287x300.jpg Marlins' Cody Ross can play CF and might make the Braves better against left-handed pitchers.

First I'll say that the resounding performance by LF Matt Diaz since his return from thumb surgery, coupled with the apparent return to strength of RF Jason Heyward since he returned from the DL after his thumb problem, has reduced the sense of urgency the Braves might have otherwise felt about adding another outfield bat.

Diaz is 16-for-37 (.432) with six doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs in 10 games since July 4, including 7-for-12 with two doubles, three homers and eight RBIsin the Braves' past three games.

Heyward is 5-for-9 in the past three games and scorched balls last night in three-hit, two-double performance that helped beat the Padres and give Atlanta the NL's best record (55-38) the majors' largest division lead (6-1/2 games).

By the way, Heyward had half as many extra-base hits last night as he'd had in his previous 29 games combined. That's a good indication of how much that thumb injury affected his usual vicious swing for more than a month.

Before last night, Heyward's last three-hit game was June 15 and his last game with two extra-base hits was May 29 against Pittsburgh.

Should the Braves trade for Cody Ross?

  • Yes, but only if it doesn't cost them a top prospect or young pitcher (57%, 12 Votes)
  • No, he's not enough of an upgrade to bother (43%, 9 Votes)
  • Yes, make it happen (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 21

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So left field and right field look a whole lot better today than they did in the weeks leading up to the All-Star break.

But what about center? Nate McLouth's expected back in the lineup tonight for his first major league game since sustaining a concussion in a June 9 outfield collision with Heyward in Arizona.

McLouth struggled mightily before he got hurt, hitting .176 with three homers, 14 RBIs and a .295 OBP and .282 slugging percentage in 57 games.

He had no homers in his last 24 games and was 5-for-50 with one double, one RBI and two steals in his last 18 games before going on the DL.

So it's going to be interesting to see what McLouth does in the next week or so after getting healthy and supposedly working to reduce the exaggerated upper-cut in his swing.

Unless he starts producing a lot more than he has, I can't see there being much trade interest if the Braves were to shop McLouth, who's under contract for $4.5 million this season and $6.5 million in 2011, with a $10.65 million option for 2012 that comes with a $1.25 million buyout.

It only takes one team to see something in a player and all that, but it sure seems like the Braves would need McLouth to play and produce better stats if they were to have any hope of trading him.

So how would they make room for Cody Ross? Well, there's Melky Cabrera, who's a lot more affordable ($3.1 mill this season, then arbitration) and has certainly been more productive than McLouth this season.

As we reported here last night, the Braves had two of their top special assistant at the Marlins-Rockies game last night, Jim Fregois and Dom Chiti. Unless they have legit trade interest in a player, the Braves wouldn't have two of their top scouts at one game.

The Braves have expressed interest in Ross for several weeks, at least. And while the resurgence of a healthy Diaz and Heyward makes adding a bat less of a requirement than it seemed a couple of weeks ago, the Braves still could make themselves better with a right-handed bat with power at a weak position.

Braves' McLouth returns to the lineup tonight after six-plus weeks on DL.

Against right-handed pitchers, the Braves lead the NL with a .347 OBP, rank third with a .266 average, and are right about in the middle of the pack with a .410 slugging percentage.

But against lefties, they are tied for eighth in OBP (.336), 14th in average (.248, ahead of only Pittsburgh and Houston), and 13th in slugging (.373).

They are not a good offensive team against lefties

Those numbers should see a little improvement with Diaz back raking against lefties. Still, they could use a little more help, particularly if it doesn't cost them a top young starting pitcher or pitching prospect, like getting a Corey Hart or David DeJesus would surely cost them.

The Marlins have reportedly talked to the Braves about lefty reliever Mike Dunn in a Ross trade. I don't know what else, if anything significant, the Braves might have to give up to get him, but if the cost isn't greater than that, it could be reasonable.

But that's only if the Braves, of course, believe that McLouth probably isn't going to be any great shakes after he returns to the lineup. And they don't have a lot of time to make such a decision before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Ross, who's at least serviceable defensively at all three outfield positions, is owed about $2 million on his $4.45 million contract this season. Then he might go to about $6 million in arbitration next season.

If he stays with the Marlins he'd likely be non-tendered this winter, so look for them to trade him. The Yankees and Red Sox are among other teams known to have interest.

Against lefties, Ross this season has hit .295 (23-for-78) with 10 extra-base hits (three homers) and an .845 OPS (.345 OBP). In 2009 against lefties, he hit .284 with 11 homers and a .959 OPS (.347 OBP).

Against lefties, McLouth has hit .146 (7-for-48) this season with just one extra-base hit (no homers) and a .393 OPS (.226 OBP). In 2009, he hit .230 (37-for-161) against lefties with six homers and a .687 OPS (.309 OBP).

Cabrera, McLouth, Omar Infante and Heyward have a combined total of three home runs and 23 RBIs in 304 at-bats against lefties this season, and Heyward has all of the homers and 10 of the RBIs.

Yes, Cabrera, McLouth and Infante have totaled zero homers in 210 at-bats vs. lefties, and have OPS totals of .681 (Cabrera), .603 (Infante) and the aforementioned .393 (McLouth) against lefties.

So, yes, the Braves could use another right-handed OF bat with some pop. They are doing just fine as currently constructed, but aren't scoring a lot of runs lately, particularly against lefties.

One other thing about Ross: He's hitting .331 (57-for-172) with 19 extra-base hits (five homers) with runners on base, with a .375 OBP and .506 slugging. That's in all situation with runners on base, not just against lefties.

With runners in scoring position, Ross has hit .292 (26-for-89) with 11 extra-base hits and an .865 OPS.

Between them, Cabrera and McLouth have hit .211 (27-for-128) with six extra-base hits, Cabrera with a .550 OPS and McLouth with a .631 OPS.

Cabrera made a terrific throw from center last night and hasn't been that bad offensively in the past couple of months, after a brutal start to the season. Still, the facts remain, he's got one homer, eight RBIs and a .320 OBP in his past 27 games, and in his past 49 games has two homers, 16 RBIs and a .331 OBP.

GM Frank Wren has put together a helluva ballclub, but says they are constantly looking to improve. On a team with few deficiencies and great clubhouse chemistry, the Braves understandably don't want to do anything to risk any major disruption in their current mix.

But if they can add an outfield bat with some pop, and do it without giving up one of the starting pitchers that could assure their solid foundation for many years to come, then it'd probably be a sound move to make.

Glaus said he was streaky: And, man, he wasn't lying. After his four-hit two-homer game at Minnesota on June 13, Troy Glaus has hit .172 with five doubles, one homer and a .264 slugging percentage in his past 26 games.

He has 19 walks, 15 strikeouts and a .333 OBP in that 26-game span.

The big first baseman has no homers and four RBIs in his past 20 games.

Pillaging toward retirement: He insists he's hanging 'em up after the season, and it looks like Billy Wagner is determined to waste no appearances between now and then.

Who knew that winter day we went to Turner Field, how big this signing would be for the Braves?

The 38-year-old closer has a 0.36 ERA and .108 opponents' average in his past 26 appearances, with nine hits, one run (on a homer), six walks and 36 strikeouts in 25 innings over that torrid stretch.

Wagner now has the NL lead with a .147 opponents' average and ranks second with a 1.13 ERA and 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

In his past six games, Wagner has been perfect – no hits, no walks, no runs, seven strikeouts in 5-2/3 innings.

FYI: Since returning from the DL, Jair Jurrjens is 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA and .216 opponents' average, with 10 walks and 20 strikeouts in 24-2/3 innings…. Martin Prado is 6-for-34 (.176) with one RBI and one multi-hit game in the past eight games. Half of his hits in that span were extra-base hits.

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from the sounds of it, it looks like Ross would platoon CF with McClouth based on all of the "against LHP" talk in the article. not a fan of making the trade for that purpose. even for that purpose, i think Dunn could be borderline "too much" for Ross to ride the pine 2/3 of the time. i'd flip the minor league SS we got for Yunel for Ross, but not much more if a platoon is in the works. the possible $6M salary next year is a little disturbing as well.

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A McClouth/Ross platoon would only be marginally better than a McClouth/Melky platoon. I can't see any reason to make this trade except the "we have to do something" mentality.

That's how I feel. I'm not really excited about this prospective trade. I think as much as some of us were worried we're going to be alright with the production from our OF moving forward.

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A McClouth/Ross platoon would only be marginally better than a McClouth/Melky platoon. I can't see any reason to make this trade except the "we have to do something" mentality.

Yeah, this. Assuming the trade is something like Cabrera and Dunn for Ross, it doesn't really seem to accomplish much.

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I say get him if the price isn't too high. I hope we got someone in place if we do trade Dunn and Flat isn't ready. We got to improve against lefty pitching and Ross seem to hit them just fine. One thing is for certain there will be no downgrade in defense at CF. Nate and Ross play some good defensive CF.

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After seeing Nate wiff yet again and then holding the ball, instead of at least trying to get the guy running to 3rd, Im all for Ross. It would not take too much for Ross to outperform Nate. We cannot have a guy batting well below .200, this late in the year. Nate is a lost cause.

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Chavez and McClouth for Ross...I'm all for it.

After watching McLousy play centerfield last night and just lob throws back to the infielders, I'm all for this. The problem with the trade scenario you mentioned, is that Florida would probably like someone who is a) going to hustle and play hard and B) not a mop up innings eater.

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Ross would be no improvement over Nate, Ross would be just like Nate here.

Technically they'd platoon.

Not that I'm disagreeing with you that Ross wouldn't help, but are you thinking the Braves shouldn't acquire Ross because he would be of marginal improvement or are you thinking the Braves shouldn't acquire Ross because some horrible curse is on the team and they're we're doomed to die?

Quite frankly, it's kind of hard to tell with you.

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This is stupid, the Braves need a "BIG" bat. They need that guy who with 1 swing can change the game. They will not get that with Ross, if they are serious about winning this season they will get Corey Hart..... whether you guys think is is worth it or not.

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Technically they'd platoon.

Not that I'm disagreeing with you that Ross wouldn't help, but are you thinking the Braves shouldn't acquire Ross because he would be of marginal improvement or are you thinking the Braves shouldn't acquire Ross because some horrible curse is on the team and they're we're doomed to die?

Quite frankly, it's kind of hard to tell with you.

We need another Big Bat, not another average bat, we have enough of those already.

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