Reasons to trade Lowe, and reasons not to

DENVER – There are reasons that Detroit and possibly another team or two has at least some interest in trading for Derek Lowe for the stretch run.

For one thing, the 38-year-old pitcher has been through many pennant races and postseasons, and proven himself under the most pressure-filled situations, as fans of the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox can attest.

With trade rumors swirling, Derek Lowe starts tonight against the Rockies.

With trade rumors swirling, Derek Lowe starts tonight against the Rockies.

He has a 3.21 ERA in 21 postseason games (12 starts), and he has a 27-16 record and career-best 3.15 ERA in September, including an unbeaten last month in 2010 that was instrumental in the Braves getting back to the playoffs.  (He was terrific in September, when other Braves pitchers were hurt or slumping.)

Lowe, who has an 86-88 career record and 4.02 ERA before the All-Star break, is 76-48 with a 3.66 ERA after the All-Star break, entering his start tonight before what I expect to be at least a couple of scouts at Coors Field specifically there to watch him (or eat the mountain oysters they sell at a concession stand — seriously).

Think about that. No, not the mountain oysters. The fact that Lowe is two games under .500 for his career before the break, but 28 games over .500 after the break.

But there are reasons why the Braves would be willing to trade Lowe in the middle of a playoff race, why they have made it known that he’s now available for the right price.

One of the biggest reasons is price – the $15 million he’s owed in 2012 in the final season of a four-year, $60 million contract, plus more than $5 million he’s owed for the remainder of this season. OK, that’s probably the only reason to trade him.

There are a lot of things the Braves could do with $20 million this year and next, or, rather, whatever large portion of that deal that the team trading for him would agree to pay (Braves won’t move him unless a team pays a lot of it).

Then there is the cold, hard fact that Lowe has been the No. 4 or No. 5 starter in the current Braves rotation, in terms of performance.

Lowe is 2-4 with a 5.00 ERA in his past 12 starts, including 2-3 with a 5.67 ERA and .307 opponents’ average in his past six starts. He has lasted six innings or fewer in six consecutive starts, and more than six innings just twice in those 12 starts.

He’s worked fewer than six innings in five of his past nine games.

One of the biggest assets Lowe brought the Braves was his durability, his “innings eater” quality that assured the bullpen would get a break most nights he pitched. Well, that’s no longer the case.

For the Braves, the question is whether they accept the risk of trading Lowe and assuming that one of their younger pitchers – Mike Minor? Julio Teheran? – can fill his spot in the rotation well enough to assure the Braves get to the postseason.

Then, once they get there, can a fourth starter, presumably Brandon Beachy, combine with the big three of Jair Jurrjens, Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson, to give the Braves a formidable rotation for a deep postseason run?

Braves officials must calculate, as best they can, what losing Lowe could potentially mean in September and in October and whether one of the bright young prospects is ready to produce down the stretch, at a time when those young pitchers have already put in as many or more innings as he’s ever logged during his brief career.

Lowe's dominant September was a big reason the Braves made it back to the playoffs in 2010.

Lowe's dominant September was a big reason the Braves made it back to the playoffs in 2010.

It’s impossible to predict how the big stage and bright lights of the postseason will affect a young pitcher who’s never been there. You can think you have a good idea, based, say, on how Beachy pitched when he was first brought up to the majors and pitched in a huge regular-season September series at Philly on really short notice.

But you can’t really know, not until they are actually thrust into that playoff scenario.

So we’ll see. I do believe the Braves will pull the trigger on a Lowe deal if the Tigers or another team will pay all or most of the money he’s owed, because it’s probably just too good to pass up, to be able to get out from under that $15 mill he’s owed in 2012 and to know those funds can be allocated for another bat, either for this year stretch drive or this winter’s free-agent market.

By the way, Lowe is only 3-5 with a 5.53 ERA in 10 starts at Coors Field, but 1-1 in two quality starts in his last two games there, one in each of the past two seasons. He’s 5-2 with a 2.80 ERA in his past seven overall against the Rockies, only two of those in Denver.

Oh, and don’t forget his recent hitting thing: Lowe is 4-for-10 with three doubles and three RBIs in the past five games in which he’s batted (he didn’t hit in his start at Seattle, obviously).

Hey, this could be his last start for the Braves. My guess is it won’t be, that he’ll make at least one more before a potential deal goes down next week, and possibly a lot more. But you never know.

Braves GM Frank Wren and his former Expos and Marlins boss, Dave Dombrowski, have a great relationship and have done deals quickly in the past. If this thing is going to happen, it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened soon, or not for another week or two. But the Braves need the Tigers to pay a big portion of the money Lowe is owed, and I don’t know if they’ll do that.

BRAVES LINEUP

  1. Schafer CF
  2. Prado 3 B
  3. McCann C
  4. Freeman 1B
  5. Uggla 2B
  6. Heyward RF
  7. Hinske LF
  8. Gonzalez SS
  9. Lowe RHP

♣ All righties in Colorado: The Braves are thankful to be facing all righties in this four-game series, beginning tonight with Jason Hammel (5-8, 4.23), who is 2-4 with a 5.67 ERA in his past eight starts.

Against the Braves, Hammel is an ugly 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA in four starts. Jason Heyward is 5-for-5 against him, Eric Hinske is 4-for-6, and Martin Prado is 4-for-6 with a homer.

Speaking of Heyward….

Jason still struggling: A lot of people on the blog and Twitter seemed surprised when Jason Heyward wasn’t in the lineup Sunday, so soon after the four-day All-Star break and all.

The game-changing talent that Heyward showed so frequently as a rookie, has not been apparent for much of the 2011 season.

The game-changing talent that Heyward showed so frequently as a rookie, has not been apparent for much of the 2011 season.

But really, given the numbers he’s produced, how surprised should anyone have been, particularly with the Braves facing a left-hander on Sunday?

Heyward is hitting .224 with a .319 OBP and .397 slugging percentage in his second season, down sharply from his .277/.393/.456 rookie season.

He has 12 doubles, one triple, nine homers and 23 RBIs in 237 at-bats (72 games).

Against lefties, he’s hit .173 (13-for-75) with two homers and a .271 OBP. Against lefties in 2010, he hit .249 (43-for-173) with six homers and a .356 OBP.

In his past 45 games, Heyward has hit .197 (28-for-142) with two homers, nine RBIs, 34 strikeouts and a .292 OBP and .310 slugging percentage.

Perhaps what is most troubling is that he hasn’t been able to really snap out of his funk, or sophomore slump, or whatever, at least not for any sustained period since returning from a 3-1/2-week stint on the DL.

He had a sore shoulder injury that had gone from nagging late in spring training to painful before he had an MRI that showed inflammation but no structural damage.

He says the shoulder has felt good since he came back from the DL on June 15.

But while his numbers have improved over the severe slump he was in just prior to the DL stint, they still aren’t anywhere near what he produced as a rookie.

In 27 games since he came off the DL, he’s hit .237 (23-for-97) with two homers, nine RBIs, 11 walks, 19 strikeouts and a .702 OPS (.321 OBP, .381 slugging).

He has as many errors (four) in those 27 games as homers and stolen bases combined. That’s just not what anyone expected. Not even remotely close.

Maybe he’ll go on a torrid stretch like the one he had in late April, when he went 13-for-31 (.419) with three homers and seven RBIs in seven games from April 22-29. But so far, that’s been the only period where Heyward has looked, for a solid week or more, like the budding superstar we saw so frequently in 2010.

Did the shoulder set him back so much that he got into bad habits he just hasn’t been able to correct? Have other teams might have realized that, as far as he stands from the plate, they can exploit that by giving him a steady diet of pitches on the outer third of the plate? Who knows?

(Heyward said, when I asked recently, that he’s no further back from the plate than he ever was, and that he can still easily extend his long arms and cover the entire plate. He likes to stand back from the plate so that pitchers can’t pitch him inside so much.)

He’s a huge talent – we all saw that last season — and this is probably just a blip on the career radar. But it’ll be interesting to see if the Braves and Heyward can quickly get the 21-year-old right fielder back on the ascendant career arc of 2010. Because right now, he seems a shadow of that player.

Your dad’s Expos: Those who wonder how the Nationals play so much better against the Braves than against anyone else, take note: That’s not been the case lately. These Nationals are far better than they’ve been in recent years.

Before Sunday, the Nationals and Braves both were 20-11 since June 10, and the Phillies were 21-9 in that same period.

Braves rolling: With their series win over the Nats, the Braves improved to 12-4 in their past 16 games and 42-24 going back to May 1, ahead of the Phillies (41-27) and Giants (42-28) over that long stretch.

This year’s slow start is not doing much for the argument that you can’t win the division in April. Here’s what I mean: The Braves 8-12 in their first 20 games through April 21, while the Phillies were 12-6 through April 21.

Since April 21, the Braves are 48-27 and the Phillies are 47-29. Philly stills holds a 3-1/2-game lead, despite the Braves having a better record since the third week of the season….

After struggling at home for much of the first half, the Braves are 12-2 with a .266 batting average and 2.50 ERA in their past 14 games at Turner Field, with 19 homers and 75 runs in those games (5.4 runs per game).

♣ OK, let’s close this with our man Jason Isbell doing an acoustic version of the opening cut off his terrific album Here We Rest. You can hear it by clicking here. (Jason, let me know if I messed up any of the words.)

images

“ALABAMA PINES” by Jason Isbell

I moved into this room, if you could call it that, a week ago.
I never do what I’m supposed to do.
I hardly even know my name anymore.
When no one calls it out, it kinda vanishes away.

I can’t get to sleep at night. The parking lot’s so loud and bright.
The a.c. hasn’t worked in twenty years.
Probably never made a single person cold,
but I can’t say the same for me. I’ve done it many times.

Somebody take me home through those Alabama pines.

You can’t drive through Talladega on a weekend in October.
Head up north to Jacksonville. Cut around and over.
Watch your speed in Boiling Springs.
They ain’t got a thing to do. They’ll get you every time.

Somebody take me home through those Alabama pines.
Somebody take me home through those Alabama pines.

If we pass through on a Sunday, better make a stop at Wayne’s.
It’s the only open liquor store north, and I can’t stand the pain
of being by myself without a little help
on a Sunday afternoon.

I needed that damn woman like a dream needs gasoline.
I tried to be some ancient kind of man,
one that’s never seen the beauty in the world,
but I tried to chase it down… tried to make the whole thing mine.

Somebody take me home through those Alabama pines.
Somebody take me home through those Alabama pines.

I’ve been stuck here in this town, if you could call it that, a year or two.
I never do what I’m supposed to do.
I don’t even need a name anymore.
When no one calls it out, it kinda vanishes away.

No one gives a damn about the things I give a damn about.
The liberties that we can’t do without seem to disappear
like ghosts in the air.
When we don’t even care, it truly vanishes away.

-- David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

2,268 comments Add your comment

Benjamin

July 18th, 2011
1:18 pm

Heyward should be benched or send him back to AAA. Let Hinske play a couple of games. He can’t hit any worse.

Chappy

July 18th, 2011
1:23 pm

DOB-I now cringe when Heyward comes up to the plate. He seems to be swinging at balls, and is vulnerable to breaking balls away. Hope he gets it on track…

ken

July 18th, 2011
1:24 pm

I think this might be a big road trip. We usually struggle on this trip every year but are facing a couple of teams have been struggling. Our bats seem like they are close to breaking out and this will show as we are playing in two of the best ball parks to hit in!! Hoping for a 5-2 or 4-3 trip at the least!!!

Go BRaves!!!!!!

Matt

July 18th, 2011
1:26 pm

how about a straight up swap of Lowe for JD Drew with the Red Sox? Send both players back to a place they’re comfortable. Plus, both players are deemed “bad” contracts too. Makes sense to me. The Red Sox get pitching depth (and they’ve certainly got the money to absorb his contract) and the Braves get a good outfielder that they can let go at the end of the season.

flange1

July 18th, 2011
1:29 pm

Thanks for the new blog DOB!

Brandon

July 18th, 2011
1:31 pm

if pitchers only threw hinske curveballs, hinske would never get a hit. im surprised pitchers still throw him fastballs

phil

July 18th, 2011
1:33 pm

As blind luck will have it, I’ll be in Denver tomorrow night for the game and might as well go.

I can then watch Wayward swinging wildly for the fences at nearly every pitch, like his apparent mentor, Gonzo.

At least Lowe won’t be pitching. For that, I’m grateful. If we can find someone dumb enough to pay that man 15 million dollars to “pitch” next year, then let’s move him for whatever we can get, even if it’s just a CD of the seventh inning stretch song….

I’ve always liked Derek…he just ain’t got enough anymore to be worth keeping….not for 15 million.

J-Hey will be ok

July 18th, 2011
1:33 pm

I think Heyward’s “problems” began back when Bobby and Pendleton were trying to get him to pull the ball for power more last year. There was also a “problem” last year when he would work the count and take close strikes and they wanted him to be more aggressive. I believe they messed with part of his game that they should have never messed with and just left him alone. I had no problem with J-Hey working the count last year or taking pitches the other way to left. I even remember Chipper talking about J-Hey need to spin on the ball more particularly with pitches on the inside.

Seems like now all he is trying to do is pull the ball and roll over the top of the ball. That said… his at bats have gotten somewhat better going back to the afternoon game in the Colorado series. He got hit by a pitch yesterday so we don’t know what would have come out of that at bat. Drove a run in Friday night. I think he’ll break those habits. He’s still learning the game while teams have made adjustments to him. It seems all its going to take is for him to take pitches the other way and he’ll be fine but its a hard habit to break I guess.

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

July 18th, 2011
1:35 pm

With the depth of pitching at the minor league level and the close proximity of the AAA club, could they not do a 5th starter by committee approach to limit the innings they pitch while also providing experience and evaluation opportunities?

To shed Lowe’s salary now, when some teams feel a sense of urgency will be much easier than in the off season when every team thinks their pitching staff will develop, stay healthy, or return to past form. He is holding back guys that need to come up anyway.

Now if Chipper will retire in the off season and give back that cash there will be an opportunity with the savings from Lowe to actually insert some major league, healthy, productive hitters to bolster the future. A productive outfield with some speed or power perhaps? A top of the order shortstop even?

George Stein

July 18th, 2011
1:35 pm

Heyward has been terribly unlucky. His BABIP is unsustainably low.

Playoffs!!!

July 18th, 2011
1:35 pm

Real risky, trading pitching in the middle of a pennant race. What if one of our starters goes down (Hanson, again-shoulder).? Then, we put both Minor and Teheran in the rotation??.
Don’t do it, Frank Wren.

jerry royster

July 18th, 2011
1:36 pm

I thought Heyward was supposed to have a great eye at the plate. Since he’s been in Atlanta he lets fastballs go right down the middle and swings at terrible pitches. I agree with other bloggers, I like Hinske any day over Heyward.

reckingball

July 18th, 2011
1:37 pm

I think that trading Lowe to the Tigers, would be a good thing for him.

Fish Bisch

July 18th, 2011
1:38 pm

Joholes Ibanez owns us :(

Bob Horner

July 18th, 2011
1:38 pm

DOB im thinking about visiting Coors field next year when the Braves are in town. Where do you rank that ball park in the majors? Thanks>

ken

July 18th, 2011
1:39 pm

Heyward is 5×5 against Hammel, I guess we can see how down he is this year tonight:(

Bob the Blogger

July 18th, 2011
1:39 pm

Matt:

JD is a left handed hitter; we need a right handed outfielder. Plus, he’s hitting .225 this year. We have enough of those too.

I think a right handed center fielder/ leadoff hitter would be the best fit, followed by a SS who can hit, but I don’t think the SS will come cheap enough.

Larry

July 18th, 2011
1:39 pm

Dave,

Spot on article and I appreciate the fair assessment of Heyward. More so, I appreciate the comment about the importance of games in April or May…they all count the same in the W/L record and there is nothing ever wrong with a healthy start!

Good job!

Kevin

July 18th, 2011
1:40 pm

I hope Hayward not caught jeff Franceour flu where all sudden stop listen n went off battin bad…I sure he get better if here are in gwinnett awhile folks be happy we in 2nd place not last!As for Lowe sure but not fo JD drew someone in line we can use now in place…..further more if Braves play 600 ball all season they cllinch either wild card are east fast……are other way who knows what ever is we have to play S.F.Giants in 1st round of best of five…..and what do U Dave O’Brien think of teams switchin around divison again!

George Stein

July 18th, 2011
1:41 pm

In spite of Heyward’s struggles, he’s still only 13 points off league average OPS.

KC

July 18th, 2011
1:41 pm

Any names floating around that could be dealt for Lowe?

ken

July 18th, 2011
1:43 pm

Detroit is saying Casper Wells which is fine and Magglio Ordonez which is crazy!!!

VaBravesFan

July 18th, 2011
1:44 pm

I dont think Lowe get traded. I dont see a team paying enough salary for us to accept. And its not like a team will offer a great return if we eat alot of money either.

On the Derek Lowe front, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the chances of the Tigers acquiring him are extremely low. He says the Braves would have to pick up at least 75% of the $21MM owed to Lowe through next year, so about $15.75MM, and that’s not happening. Surely there’s a team that values Lowe at more than $5.25MM through 2012

TXDawg

July 18th, 2011
1:45 pm

Lowe must go!! Heyward is like a fart bubble in the swimming pool, he’ll eventually rise up and burst onto the scene (again)!!

David

July 18th, 2011
1:45 pm

Heyward is gonna take strike 1, and if a pitcher can get strike 2 on him, he’s as good as struck out. He’ll swing if it bounces before the plate or if it’s up in his eyes. It’s really painful to watch. Yeah, we know he’s shown that he’s better than this, but, is the real Jason the phenom we heard so much about or is he the AAAA player who can’t make adjustments. Time will tell. I just hope it’s not telling us right now.

braveslifer

July 18th, 2011
1:47 pm

MLBTR just posted a great article that ranked Starting Pitcher Trade Candidates By SIERA. SIERA is is an estimator of what a pitcher’s ERA would be with average luck, defense, and park, by looking at other pitchers with similar strikeouts, walks, and ground ball rates in recent seasons. Our man D. Lowe is 4th on the list ahead of Jeremy Guthrie and Ubaldo Jimenez.

1.Anibal Sanchez – 3.07
2.Rich Harden – 3.20 (18 innings)
3.Erik Bedard – 3.23
4.Derek Lowe – 3.52
5.Brandon McCarthy – 3.58
6.Wandy Rodriguez – 3.60
7.Ricky Nolasco – 3.60
8.Chris Capuano – 3.61
9.Edwin Jackson – 3.62
10.Ubaldo Jimenez – 3.64
11.Hiroki Kuroda – 3.68
12.Tom Gorzelanny – 3.70
13.Ted Lilly – 3.79
14.Jeff Niemann – 3.92
15.Brett Myers – 3.94
16.John Danks – 4.05
17.Aaron Harang – 4.05
18.Jason Marquis – 4.08
19.Livan Hernandez – 4.20
20.Javier Vazquez – 4.26
21.Jeff Francis – 4.26
22.Jeremy Guthrie – 4.27
23.Bruce Chen – 4.58
24.Kyle Davies – 4.61
25.Aaron Cook – 4.66 (38 2/3 innings)

phil

July 18th, 2011
1:47 pm

George Stein

July 18th, 2011
1:35 pm
Heyward has been terribly unlucky. His BABIP is unsustainably low.
***********************

Yep, it’s just all been bad luck….I’m sure that luck will change any day now and Wayward will start spraying the ball all over the field….skill, hard work, effort, those things mean nothing when it’s all about luck….

Bob Leblaw's Law Blog

July 18th, 2011
1:47 pm

I think every stat you presented for Heyward is better than Schafer, yet he’s hitting leadoff.

BravoMan

July 18th, 2011
1:48 pm

I’ll be happy either way pending on how much money we have to send with Derek to Detroit. If we trade him we improve our club for the long term by providing payroll room for another bat this off season. If we keep him he can provide valuable veteran leadership in the playoffs, an area he has a plethora of experience in.

Puma

July 18th, 2011
1:48 pm

I agree with Playoffs, real risky to trade a main pitching component when we are trying to catch the Phillies. Lowe is definitely overpaid, but at least we know what to expect out of him. You just never now how Minor or Teheran would react to pitching a full season, or Beachy for that matter. If Medlen was on track, maybe, but too much risk. We want to add, not subtract

Afan

July 18th, 2011
1:48 pm

i could see a team paying half of lowe’s salary. Especially if it was a team with some money that was serious about a playoff run.
Half of his salary cleared would still be nice.

Reid Adair

July 18th, 2011
1:49 pm

When Frank Wren gave Derek Lowe this ridiculous contract in the first place, everyone should have known this was coming. It’s for the money – and only the money – that Wren will trade Lowe. It doesn’t matter the reasons not to do so.

phil

July 18th, 2011
1:49 pm

braveslifer

July 18th, 2011
1:47 pm
MLBTR just posted a great article that ranked Starting Pitcher Trade Candidates By SIERA. SIERA is is an estimator of what a pitcher’s ERA would be with average luck, defense, and park, by looking at other pitchers with similar strikeouts, walks, and ground ball rates in recent seasons. Our man D. Lowe is 4th on the list ahead of Jeremy Guthrie and Ubaldo Jimenez.

**************************

Really? This is just another example of the statheads getting way too carried away….

Lowe ain’t getting it done. Where’s the stat for that?

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

July 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

75% right ….. if we are getting the top 2 prospects in their entire system maybe and they take Kawakami too
. Get real.

Bigwheel

July 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

DOB- i think FW should look at moving DLowe in the offseason. I dont think there at too many top flight starters out on the market, thus he could be had- even during teams being in a scramble period. If anyone goes back and watches our game 4 NLDS, theyll notice he was no hitting the giants thru 6, i believe. JJ doesnt have any postseason experience and TH has one start. Lowe is crucial to a deep playoff run

phil

July 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

Rather than Chipper, what can we do to get Wayward to retire?

Elmer

July 18th, 2011
1:51 pm

We need a right handed outfielder, please.

DAP

July 18th, 2011
1:51 pm

DOB It’s possible this could be his last start for the Braves. My guess is he’ll make at least one more before a deal goes down next week, but you never know.

wow, talk about stoking the fire! nice, DOB. thank for the bloggage.

brandon if pitchers only threw hinske curveballs, hinske would never get a hit. im surprised pitchers still throw him fastballs

some pitchers cant throw curve balls, or cant throw them for strikes. thats why if you are a good fastball hitter with a good eye, you can be a good hitter. especially a pinch hitter. besides, hinske can hit a breaking ball every now and then, and he can usually spoil them at least.

Efrim

July 18th, 2011
1:51 pm

Ya just have to keep playing Heyward.

Bayou Brave

July 18th, 2011
1:52 pm

Over his last 17 games, Dan Uggla is batting .246/.361/.557 with five home runs and four doubles. The slump seems to be busted, and the Braves are 12-5 over that span. — Ben Duronio: Capital Avenue Club

woman in the throes

July 18th, 2011
1:52 pm

“has been terribly unlucky. His BABIP is unsustainably low”
There is a lot of discussion about how much stock to put in BABIP from a hitter’s standpoint. If you’ve watched Heyward, I don’t think it’s been bad luck as much as bad contact. I’m a Heyward fan and I’m pulling for him and really think he’ll turn it around but it seems like all he does these days is hit little soft grounders and pop-ups, neither of which is conducive to a high BABIP. Having said that, I hope you’re right George.

George Stein

July 18th, 2011
1:53 pm

I have seen no one suggest Heyward is lazy, Phil. The fact is, you probably don’t understand BABIP. there is an element of luck involved in hitting and Heyward just isn’t getting any good luck.

I suggest you spend a few minutes on Google and learn about some advanced metrics. If you want to remain ignorant, enjoy RBI or pitcher wins or errors.

Heisenberg

July 18th, 2011
1:54 pm

Prior to Medlen getting put on hold for 6 weeks, trading Lowe would have been an easier decision. But I would still pull the trigger with anyone willing to take the salary. Besides if Minor, Teheran, or Delgado are not up to the task we still have KK as a fallback.

Mixxo

July 18th, 2011
1:54 pm

Wayward = our own Greg Oden

Jay Dubu

July 18th, 2011
1:54 pm

I really don’t think the Braves will trade Lowe or any other pitcher in their rotation during the season.

As stated, Lowe is a valuable veteran presence. That’s the same reason that Sherrill & Linebrink are in the bullpen, veteran presence.

Lowe maybe overpaid for the performance that he gives, but that’s something I’m sure that the Braves foresaw going into the contract. That’s one of the reasons that other teams did not offer Lowe a 4th year.

That happens with long contracts and/or older players. Look at Jeter, A-Rod, and even Chipper for example. Are they performing to their contracts?

I’m still waiting to hear the report of a Braves’ player say how much Larry Parrish has helped them.

Not that Heyward’s struggles are his fault, but it seems, at least from the reports that I’ve read, that anytime a Brave goes on a good hitting streak, it’s someone outside the organization that provided the guidance.

LP has to help the young man regain the stroke that he displayed most of last season.

Still waint to hear of the bullpen addition that is sure to come. Maybe it’ll happen after the trade deadline.

otherwise, the Braves could have gone cheaper and younger in the bullpen.

George Stein

July 18th, 2011
1:55 pm

You’re making way too much sense, Leblaw.

MichaelC

July 18th, 2011
1:55 pm

Heyward and Freeman are looking more and more like Francoeur and McCann from a few years ago……..

Arkansas Transplant

July 18th, 2011
1:56 pm

You must maximize the return you’ll get for Lowe, and by saying as much, you have to do so by trading him now while teams are willing to give a little more to increase post-season success and by picking up the remainder of his salary this year so you increase the prospects you’ll get in return.

bravesfanforever

July 18th, 2011
1:56 pm

Let’s not act like we would get nothing for Lowe. We would only trade him if we got something substantial in return since we would be down a valuable pitcher. In other words, keep Lowe unless someone practically gives the team something it cannot refuse.

If we got a heavy hitter in return, it would revamp the line up and give the team some much needed offense and it might more than make up for having to rely on Minor or Teheran as the fifth starter.

In the playoffs, it is not inconceivable to survive with only 3 good starters–which the Braves have fortunately.

Scoop

July 18th, 2011
1:56 pm

Great post DOB.

As to Heyward-IMO the reaon he’s struggled this year is bc of a lack of rhythem. Injuries and his inability to play through them has become his MO. This year, he hasnt been in the lineup consistently with his time on the DL and missing most of spring training.

It’s been one thing or another for Heyward but he just hasn’t been consistent in his career YET. Even last year, he was hurt and went through a big slump before finishing the season on a flurry.

His best friend Freddy Free. is the image of consistency. He and Mac have been carrying this ballclub and I’ve been so impressed with his clutch hitting with runners in scoring position. His ability to drive the ball the opposite way(and for power) is making him nearly unpitchable with his ability to adjust in the box. Maybe Heyward(and the team for that matter) should learn a thing or two about driving the ball the other way….

Tyler

July 18th, 2011
1:58 pm

DOB,
Any chance the Braves send Heyward to AAA if they land another outfielder before the deadline? Schafer’s offensive numbers might not be any better than Heyward’s but his defense makes him more valuable than the current version of Heyward.

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

July 18th, 2011
1:59 pm

An innings eater that doesn’t eat innings is not exactly the key to a deep playoff run, and yes we know exactly what to expect from Lowe….5 innings, 5 earned runs,1.5 runner on base per inning and a .500 record. You really think that can’t be replaced? So he throws a great game every sixth time he starts….. really while someones willing you better do it or you will have a 15 middle reliever next year by the all star break

Mixxo

July 18th, 2011
1:59 pm

…If we got a heavy hitter in return, it would revamp the line up and give the team some much needed offense and it might more than make up for having to rely on Minor or Teheran as the fifth starter.

In the playoffs, it is not inconceivable to survive with only 3 good starters–which the Braves have fortunately.

Yes….agreed.

braveslifer

July 18th, 2011
1:59 pm

“Really? This is just another example of the statheads getting way too carried away….

Lowe ain’t getting it done. Where’s the stat for that?”

The perfect stat for that is WINZ. WINZ can be defined as the perfect stat for the casual fan who then can look up on numerous different websites in a matter of seconds and then suggest his or her team make X move for Y. This stat is especially useful for people who don’t watch many of the games but have an overinflated opinion of their knowledge of baseball.

JackDennis

July 18th, 2011
1:59 pm

All for Heyward. But not sure a trip to minors will cure what ails him. He’s giving away too much plate.

Neptune

July 18th, 2011
1:59 pm

I don’t know why I’m amazed when fans act like fanatics. After all, that is what a fan is.

Heyward has fans just like lots of players have fans. Now its Heyward’s fan’s turn to make all the excuses for Heyward. No matter how you slice it, he has sucked for 3/4’s of his big league career! The only reason he had decent numbers last year is because he got off to a hot start. Once he had been around the league, he turned into Jeff Francouer.

No one wants to hear it, but his career could parallel Frenchy’s The Braves had to hold on to Frenchy a full year more than they should have because they had loaded up all their outlets with Francouer jerseys and memorabilia. Could you imaging the bath they would have taken if they had to eat those 100,000 Frenchy tee shirts, bobbleheads and jerseys before selling them??!? You couldn’t find a Mac tee shirt for a kid but you could get 2 Frenchy jerseys for 10 bucks! lmao

Mayor of Ponce

July 18th, 2011
2:00 pm

DOB, why does no one bring up the value of DLowe coming out of the pen in the post season. We obviously would use him as a starter, and wasn’t he the closer the the Red Sox championship team? Can’t remember if they had moved him to the rotation by then.

And I’ve always noticed that D Lowe has no trouble going through the order the first time, it’s 4th and 5th innings that cause trouble. And his sinker is much more a cold weather pitch?

It just seems his post season value is tremendous.

T for Texas

July 18th, 2011
2:00 pm

Thanks for the new one, David.

Mayor of Ponce

July 18th, 2011
2:01 pm

*wouldN’T use him a starter

Arkansas Transplant

July 18th, 2011
2:01 pm

Number 1, Trade Lowe
Number 2, Work a trade for Gomes if possible
Number 3, Work a trade for Uehara

Issues addressed!!

Heisenberg

July 18th, 2011
2:01 pm

The return on a Lowe trade is proportional to the salary Braves would be willing to take back. Take back more salary get more/better players in return. Expect someone to take most or all of his salary and get lower level prospects in return. It is that simple.

Lollygagger

July 18th, 2011
2:02 pm

Wren wouldn’t consider trading Lowe unless he already has another deal arranged to bring a hitter (probably a bench guy who could be a everyday starter if Chipper can’t come back) to Atlanta. Trading a starting pitcher in a pennant race makes no sense unless there’s a companion deal. This isn’t Wren’s first dance, and I have a feeling he has something up his sleeve that will happen quickly – maybe immediately – after unloading a significant portion of Lowe’s contract.

Whoop

July 18th, 2011
2:03 pm

Oh god, can people please stop comparing Schafer and Heyward. Even at Heyward’s worse, he’s still better than that scrub.

ncscoots

July 18th, 2011
2:03 pm

Heyward has been terribly unlucky. His BABIP is unsustainably low.

Unfortunately, his ground-ball rate is up (and it was high even last year), his line-drive rate is down, and his HR/FB ratio has even dipped a hair. I’d agree that he’s hit into some bad luck, yes, but not “terribly unlucky.” Some of that BABIP is of his own making.

Balls that he might have squared up last year and driven for one of those lasers he hits aren’t quite getting on the barrel. That’s exacerbating his ground ball rate some, is all. His swing isn’t that far off, but it’s definitely off some.

Can’t count on regression to turn him around; got to get his swing percolating a little before the luck will start evening him out.

darrell starks

July 18th, 2011
2:05 pm

B. J. UPTON will be available soon get him if possible.
GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!!!

John

July 18th, 2011
2:05 pm

If a team is willing to take on most of Lowe’s contract, then he should be traded now. You never know what his value would be by waiting till winter. He could be hurt, less effective that last part of the year, etc. With the need to promote one or more of their top 3 minor league pitchers, there is no place for Lowe in next years rotation. If a deal is there, even if it is salary releaf, take it. $15,000,000 will get you a good outfielder and leave room for some other improvements.

Furman Bitcher

July 18th, 2011
2:06 pm

I have never seen somebody hit more ground balls to first as Heyward.

VaBravesFan

July 18th, 2011
2:07 pm

Team is doing pretty good considering we expected 20 homers 80 rbis from Heyward and 30 homers 100 rbi from Uggla at seasons end. The run production wont be there, they both have a great shot at raching the homer mark tho.

Furman Bitcher

July 18th, 2011
2:07 pm

15 mil gets you a pretty darn good outfielder plus KK & McClouth coming off the books

Bob Leblaw's Law Blog

July 18th, 2011
2:08 pm

If you are using Franceour and Heyward to draw parallels, I assume you don’t watch baseball. If you watch baseball and still compare the two, I can only assume you are on the wrong side of the bell curve for intelligence.

darrell starks

July 18th, 2011
2:09 pm

B. J. FOR MCLOUTH, MINOR, GONZALEZ IS PERFECT TRADE FOR BRAVES.
GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!

cricket

July 18th, 2011
2:09 pm

i’m still thinking about the mountain oysters

Fab-Five Fredi

July 18th, 2011
2:10 pm

Trade the Wayward Kid, Mike Minor and Derek Lowe to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp. Eat half of Lowe’s combined salary and call it a day.

Mike in Marietta

July 18th, 2011
2:11 pm

Kevin,

I don’t comment on here too often and I try not to be too critical of what people write but what you wrote was terribly incorherent.

Bob Leblaw's Law Blog

July 18th, 2011
2:12 pm

BJ Upton had 6 AB’s yesterday and saw 11 pitches. That’s difficult to do.

JASon

July 18th, 2011
2:12 pm

David, is this a real possibility or just something you guys are talking about? Lowe is my favorite player on the team. I just don’t understand why we would be looking to do anything right now! We are one of the top teams in the majors so leave it the f alone! Trades such as these (not all trades) do more to hurt your team because they breed resentment and discontent amongst the players. Why would you want to disrupt the chemistry in any way? Wren meddles to gd-dam much, leave it alone!

darrell starks

July 18th, 2011
2:12 pm

1. SCHAFER CF
2. B. J. LF
3. PRADO SS
4. MCCANN CATCHER
5. CHIPPER 3B
6. FREEMAN 1B
7. UGGLA 2B
8. HEYWARD RF
WORLD SERIES BABY
GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!!!

RJ Voorhees

July 18th, 2011
2:12 pm

@DOB, Who do you think the Braves most realistic target is? Give us a name please. I personally think that Willingham is going to be a Brave before the deadline. They were interested in him last year and he has had a pretty solid season this year. I wish there was a player available that wouldn’t require too much to get, that would be a big boost for the Braves game in and game out! Wishful thinking though

Shaun

July 18th, 2011
2:13 pm

The most likely culprit, by a long shot, as to why Heyward has struggled this season is the shoulder problem. His walk rate, while it’s dipped from last season, is well above average.

Also, as Ben Duronio pointed out, Heyward’s swing is probably going to produce a relatively high groundball rate. But he’s getting unlucky on some grounders, too. We saw some examples of this in the Nats serious. They made some great plays on some Heyward hard-hit grounders that could have easily turned into hits.

I see no indication that Heyward is Jeff Francoeur. Can we please stop those comparisons? When did Francoeur ever have a halfway decent walk rate? When did Franceour post a full season OPS+ of 96 besides 2007?

Regarding BABIP, I don’t think it’s as simple as just bad luck or just bad swings. It’s a combination. I think Heyward’s low BABIP is caused by some bad swings (very likely due mostly to injury) and also some bad luck.

59bulldawg

July 18th, 2011
2:13 pm

I’d like to see more Hinske too . . . especially while Jason is working out the kinks. As for dealing Lowe I’m not sure . . . but lean towards doing it.

mike

July 18th, 2011
2:14 pm

reports are that Detroit wants like 75% salary relief. so we’re going to pay like 16 million regardless? and rush a top prospect/prospects into the rotation? no thanks.

braveslifer

July 18th, 2011
2:15 pm

Fangraphs just did a write up of the 50 players with the highest trade value. The guy who you call “Wayward” is 8th on the list. Mentioned BABIP in the article so it maybe a bit above your head Fab-Five Fredi.

“It seems like there’s a race to see who can get off the Heyward bandwagon the fastest, as injuries and a .224 batting average have soured a lot of people on the Braves young outfielder. But if you look past BA, he’s showing all the same skills he did last year. His power is still there, as his ISO and HR/FB rates are basically unchanged. He’s still walking and he’s still making contact when he does swing. But instead of the .335 BABIP he posted last year, he’s at .251 this year. When balls start falling in again, Heyward will remind everyone that he’s still one of the best young hitters in baseball, and, remember, he’s only 21. There’s serious long term upside as long as he can stay healthy.”

George Stein

July 18th, 2011
2:16 pm

Nice job, ncscoots. Those are all more telling. The biggest issue is that his line drive rate (which turn into hits more often is down about 1/3, from 17% to 12%). That may be a product of his injury. I don’t really know. But that is his issue right now.

darrell starks

July 18th, 2011
2:17 pm

B.J CAREER OBP .350 AND AVG 40 STEALS A YEAR, PUT HIM AT TOP OF THE LINE UP WITH SCHAFER WOULD BE CRAZY.
GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!

Murph

July 18th, 2011
2:17 pm

The Braves have a veteran presence in Hudson, so that’s no reason to keep Lowe around.

If they can move him they absolutely should. There are better options in the minors to take his starts until the playoffs. Add in the salary relief and it seems like a pretty easy decision.

Moving Lowe will give the Braves flexibility. With raises and everything else it might not be much flexibility, but they don’t need $20mil to be able to upgrade CF or SS.

PDOG

July 18th, 2011
2:17 pm

The only way I would trade Lowe is if the Braves could get Beltran back. As for Heyward if he would just take that outside pitch to left like he did at the start of last year all would be well. He keeps trying to pull that pitch and keeps grounding out to second.

DS1

July 18th, 2011
2:17 pm

Mark me down as one Braves fan that doesn’t think Lowe gets dealt this year.

cabravesfan

July 18th, 2011
2:17 pm

3. PRADO SS

If the Braves don’t want to move Marteen back to 2nd, a position he was an All-Star at last year, why on earth would they move him to a position he has never played in the middle of the season???

Ralph

July 18th, 2011
2:17 pm

Platoon Hinskie and Ramariz in right field, let Heyward work out his problems either off the bench with occasional starts or go to Gwinnette, i’m tired of watching him chase Uggly for lowest batting average, a race Heyward will win.

AtlYnkHtr

July 18th, 2011
2:18 pm

Shaun, I was referring to the types of comparisons you mentioned. He would be the first rookie with a .400 OBP since X. I agree this is not a comparison in every sense and is not predictive in nature. But, most people hear that and they expect the player to be, in the end, comparable to player X.

George Stein

July 18th, 2011
2:19 pm

Fair enough, Shaun.

Another awesome post, Leblaw.

Shaun

July 18th, 2011
2:19 pm

“Once he had been around the league, he turned into Jeff Francouer.”

Except Heyward so far this season is equal to Franceour at his best. Anyone who thinks Heyward equals Francoeur is simply not objective about one or the other or both. The facts are pretty clear.

Powder Blue

July 18th, 2011
2:19 pm

We need a good hitter, preferably in CF. It would be nice if he could play defense as well. I’m not counting on Chipper to stay healthy through the remainder of the season. If we have to trade Lowe to afford a hitter, then trade Lowe.

VaBravesFan

July 18th, 2011
2:21 pm

I expected Heyward to struggle a little and go threw a adjusting period, But I figured the guy would hit atleast 250. with 10-12 dingers 40-45 rbi at the half way point, the injury hurt big time for sure.

DAP

July 18th, 2011
2:21 pm

i agree that heyward can cover the plate as far away as he is, but i think if you are going to stand back there, you have to go the other way with the pitch a little bit. as far off the plate as he is, why isnt he getting hits to left field? maybe because he is trying to pull those pitches. if hes going to pull, he might need to get a little closer. once he starts hitting it to left, he will get a few more pitches he can pull.

VaBravesFan

July 18th, 2011
2:23 pm

Imagine if Prado could play a above average Shortstop, that would really make it easier to make a trade cause we’d have a hole in LF with even a healthy Chipper. Good thought to bad its not true.. lol

Hillbilly

July 18th, 2011
2:23 pm

Pjork #fatbands –Jason Isbell (twitter)

Holy crap, I laughed hard at this.

Furman Bitcher

July 18th, 2011
2:24 pm

DAP it is just so simple but these guys never make adjustments. it is crazy.

rrosson3

July 18th, 2011
2:26 pm

IF Lowe is dealt, I don’t see how the braves land Beltran or Pence. Wren has already stated that Minor, Teheran, and Delgado are not available. I know they have other guys that are good pieces but I would think the Mets or Astros would want one of the big three. I would like to see the braves go after Peter Bourjos of the Angels.

nique

July 18th, 2011
2:26 pm

Braves should trade Lowe if someone else will pay his salary. If we can get a decent hitter or relief pitcher all the better.

There’s no guarantee that he will ever pitch like he did at the end of the season, but if they trade him the Braves will be guaranteed not to have to pay his salary (subject to whatever they agree to).

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