It’s Chipper Jones Bobblehead Night at Turner Field, and by the time I finish writing this blog in 25 minutes we should know whether the third baseman is back in the Braves lineup after missing two starts with a right quad strain.
What we do know, which I just double-checked with my infamous math skills to make sure, is that Chipper has 999 career extra-base hits. He’s got 516 doubles, 38 triples and 445 home runs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s 999, right?
Anyway, Carlos Quentin.
That’s right, we’ve got no time for transitions today, so let’s get right into the rumor du jour. And let me start by saying, it’s legit. Checked it with someone this afternoon who would know, and the Braves are, indeed, talking to the White Sox about Quentin, as FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal first reported this morning.
The slugging corner outfielder currently has 20 homers, 62 RBIs and a .510 slugging percentage, to go with a .262 average and .353 OBP. Needless to say, he could be a huge boost for the Braves’ scuffling offense.
He’s got more homers and RBIs than any Brave this season, and five more homers (and four fewer RBIs) than Carlos Beltran, who was just traded to the Giants. In his past 11 games, Quentin has hit .341 with three homers and 11 RBIs.
He’s right-handed, 28, and unlike the 34-year-old Beltran, Quentin is under contractual control for another season. So he wouldn’t be a three-month rental before free agency, like Boras client Beltran.
That, plus the fact that the White Sox are in the other league instead of the same division of the same league, would seemingly make the Braves more inclined to part with one of their top pitching prospects, long as it wasn’t Julio Teheran or Arodys Vizcaino.
That’s assuming it would take that to pry him from the White Sox, who are only 3-1/2 games out of first place now in the AL Central parity division, but already have a Triple-A replacement for Quentin waiting in the wings.
The White Sox have been scouting the Braves’ minor league system, and the Braves had one of the top scouts, Dom Chiti, at Chicago’s recent series against Cleveland.
Quentin, 28, is making just over $5 million this season, so he’d be owed less than $2 million the rest of the way. With the year he’s having, he might boost his salary to more than $8 million through arbitration next year before he’s eligible for free agency after the 2012 season.
Now, the elephant in the room: Where would he play?
Quention has played right field in 84 games and DH’d in 11 this season, but played mostly left field in 2008 and 2009. (By the way, he hit .288 with a career-high 36 homers and 100 RBIs in ’08, and this season is shaping up as his best since then.)
Here’s how I figure that Braves officials might be thinking on this one, and why I think it makes a lot of sense if it’s the case. Jason Heyward has struggled in his second season, and really hasn’t shown much sign of breaking out and hitting like he did as a rookie.
So you get Quentin and pencil him in for right field for the rest of the season. But if Chipper has more problems and Prado has to move back to third base, Quentin can easily move over to left field. No, he’s not a defensive stalwart by any means, but he’s not Jonny Gomes, either. And you’re getting Quentin for his bat. He won’t cost you games in the outfield.
He’ll win you games at the plate.
Heyward is under contractual control for the next four seasons. The Braves would not be giving up on him, not by any stretch of the imagination, if they played him part-time or even if they sent him to Triple-A for a period this season.
Heyward has hit .200 with four homers and a .286 OBP in his past 52 games.
I don’t know if they’d actually send him to Triple-A, but who knows? This is about winning now, getting to the playoffs and trying to win a World Series. It’s too late in the season to worry about feelings and stepping on toes, don’t you think?
There are quite a few corner outfielders available on the market, and the Braves can more easily add a quality right-handed bat there than center fielder.
After this season? Here’s why Quentin makes sense, too. Coming off the season he’s having, the Braves would have no problem trading him this winter if they decided to go that route. But if, for some reason, Chipper decides to call it a career after this season, well, the Braves already have the outfield corners and third base taken care of – move Prado to third, Quentin to left field.
He’s not the only outfielder the Braves are discussing, but he might be the most realistic in terms of what they’re willing to give up in a deal to get a potent right-handed bat, a legit offensive force who would change the complexion of their lineup.
♣ OK, had some more stuff about ascendant rookie Freddie Freeman and a Braves bullpen that’s pitched 18 scoreless innings in this series. But out of time. I’ll work that in somewhere later today.
Let’s close with an all-timer from The Boss, and two videos of him and the E Street Band doing it in performances a quarter-century apart. Check out young Springsteen by clicking here and the aging-but-still-killin’ version in 2009 by clicking here.
“CANDY’S ROOM” by Bruce Springsteen
In Candy’s room there are pictures of her heroes on the wall
but to get to Candy’s room you gotta walk the darkness of Candy’s hall
Strangers from the city call my baby’s number and they bring her toys
When I come knocking she smiles pretty she knows I wanna be Candy’s boy
There’s a sadness hidden in that pretty face
A sadness all her own from which no man can keep Candy safe
We kiss, my heart’s rushes to my brain
The blood rushes in my veins fire rushes towards the sky
We go driving driving deep into the night
I go driving deep into the light in Candy’s eyes
She says baby if you wanna be wild
you got a lot to learn, close your eyes
Let them melt, let them fire, let them burn
Cause in the darkness there’ll be hidden worlds that shine
When I hold Candy close she makes these hidden worlds mine
She has fancy clothes and diamond rings
She has men who give her anything she wants but they don’t see
That what she wants is me,
oh and I want her so
I’ll never let her go, no no no
She knows that I’d give
all that I got to give
All that I want all that I live
to make Candy mine
-- David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog