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Trade talks may soon heat up for Braves


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Per Mark Bowman

There hasn't been a lot of buzz surrounding the Braves during the early portion of this Hot Stove Season.  But there's a sense that things might heat up after Frank Wren assembles with his peers at the general manager meetings in Orlando early next week.

While the Braves might eventually land a veteran reliever or possibly another starting pitcher on the free-agent market, their primary focus is to find at least one outfielder.  With anywhere from $10-15 million to spend, it appears they'll most likely fill this need via the trade market. 

The Braves have seemingly shown some interest in free agent outfielder Pat Burrell, who rejuvenated his career while helping the Giants win the World Series.  But early indications are that the veteran, defensively-challenged outfielder might prove to be too expensive.

Thus it appears more likely that the Braves will find themselves taking a gamble on an outfielder available via trade.   The Dodgers don't seem interested in trading Matt Kemp and the Braves don't seem too interested in even contemplating the idea of taking a chance on B.J. Upton.

There's a chance that Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox) or Colby Rasmus could be acquired for the right price.  But the Braves seem intent on finding a right-handed outfielder to fill their already left-handed heavy lineup.

Thus it seems more likely that they would pursue somebody like Josh Willingham from the Nationals or maybe a potential leadoff hitter like Rajai Davis from the A's.

Davis produced a mediocre .320 on-base percentage while hitting .284 and recording 50 stolen bases this past year.  Willingham's injury woes increased this past summer when he was forced to undergo arthroscopic surgery in August to repair meniscus in his left knee. 

With limited funds, the Braves are likely going to have to acquire an outfielder who will be viewed as "having some warts."   But as the Giants proved this past year, you can benefit from taking chances on guys like Burrell and Aubrey Huff when you have a solid pitching staff. 

The Braves will have a better idea of how much money they can spend once they determine where Kenshin Kawakami will be pitching next year.  A month ago, it appeared they had found a Japanese club willing to acquire Kawakami and offset about $3 million of the $6.67 million the Braves owe him in the final year of his contract.

There has sense been some reason to believe that Kawakami would rather continue pitching in the United States.  The Yomuri Giants were believed to be one of the clubs interested in the 34-year-old right-hander. 

Kawakami has said that he doesn't like pitching in the Tokyo Dome, which serves as the Giants home.  My only response to that is, "Would he rather pitch in Gwinnett County's Coolray Field?

If they need additional funds to land the outfielder they are seeking or simply need to enhance a trade package, the Braves might opt to trade one of their projected starters for the 2011 season.  They won't deal Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson or Mike Minor.  Nor do they seem very excited about the possibility of trading Jair Jurrjens.

Thus we're back where we were last year, when they were contemplating the idea of trading either Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez. But this year, it doesn't appear they'll be actively shopping Lowe like they were last year before reaching the point where they had to deal Vazquez to the Yankees. 

Having gone 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his final five regular season starts and then impressing in his two postseason starts, Lowe certainly looks more appealing than he did at this time last year.  But the Braves would certainly be hard pressed to deal him without eating at least a portion of the $30 million they owe him over the next two years. 

If the Braves end up trading a pitcher, Vazquez will certainly be among the pitchers that they target to fill the rotation void.  But there is a belief that the Nationals or Marlins will be willing to offer more to give him a chance to rekindle the success he enjoyed in the NL East in 2009.

Minor League hires: When the Braves announce their Minor League coaching staff within the next couple of days, there will be a couple of familiar names.  Former Orioles manager Dave Trembley has reportedly been hired to serve as the Minor League field coordinator. 

In addition, Jonathan Schuerholz is expected to be named the manager for the Gulf Coast League Braves.  Schuerholz is the son of former Braves GM and current president John Schuerholz.

After playing his college ball at Auburn University, the younger Schuerholz played six seasons in the Braves organization, advancing as far as the Triple-A level.   He has spent the past couple seasons serving as the club's Minor League infield instructor. 

This role provided Schuerholz the opportunity to be around the game on a daily basis and spend countless hours interacting with the likes of Triple-A Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage and former Double-A Mississippi Phil Wellman.  

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The Braves don't want to take a chance on B.J. Upton? Typical Frank Wren BS! :angry:

We should jump at Upton! He'll come cheap and is still very young and still has loads of potential.

It's that kind of deal that allowed the White Sox to pickup Carlos Quention from the Diamondbacks for basically nothing and look at how great he's been for them.

But the Braves don't want to take that chance? Of course not! Why don't we just sign Jim Edmonds and call it a day! :angry:

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The Braves don't want to take a chance on B.J. Upton? Typical Frank Wren BS! :angry:

We should jump at Upton! He'll come cheap and is still very young and still has loads of potential.

It's that kind of deal that allowed the White Sox to pickup Carlos Quention from the Diamondbacks for basically nothing and look at how great he's been for them.

But the Braves don't want to take that chance? Of course not! Why don't we just sign Jim Edmonds and call it a day! :angry:

What makes you think Upton will come cheap?

The Rays are NOTORIOUS for asking for the moon for their players.

The problem with trading on potential is when it does not work out ( and it does not work out far more then then it DOES work out) people will ***** about giving up high level prospects (and don't kid yourself that is exactly what it will probably take to get Upton) for "potential".

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What makes you think Upton will come cheap?

The Rays are NOTORIOUS for asking for the moon for their players.

The problem with trading on potential is when it does not work out ( and it does not work out far more then then it DOES work out) people will ***** about giving up high level prospects (and don't kid yourself that is exactly what it will probably take to get Upton) for "potential".

This. Upton will cost just as much as a Rasmus or Kemp, and after two subpar seasons, he's just not worth that.

another reason that wren and liberty media should go.

And this is Wren's fault.....how?

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They should go after Colby Rasmus. I don't care if he is a lefty. He is a very good hitter and defensive CF. Plus he is young and make next to nothing right now. Quit going after these dam worthless washed up scrubs.

Rasmus would be another Nate McClouth here.

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Rasmus actually has talent, and hasn't reached his potential... Nate seemingly expended all his talent and we acquiring him while he was playing over his head... Rasmus will continue to get better, Nate I hope can just be servicable

I made several posts in another thread explaining how Rasmus would be a major upgrade over McLouth. Maybe I can bump that thread later if I find it.

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