First base is Braves’ most fixable problem: Adrian Gonzalez

Here's Adrian Gonzalez after he scored in Padres' 10-run fourth-inning against the Braves. Oops. (AP photo)

Here's Adrian Gonzalez after he scored during Padres' 10-run fourth-inning against Braves. Oops.

A rumor popped up a few days ago that the Braves might have some interest in San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, which is interesting because I proposed the same thing in November.

As I wrote then, the Padres need to trim payroll and there is absolutely no downside to the Braves pursuing a trade for Gonzalez: 1) He gives them a dependable power hitter and run producer; 2) He fills the great black hole that always seems to exist at first base in Turner Field; 3) He has a favorable contract ($4.75 million and $5.5 million this season and in 2011, respectively); 4) His name isn’t Troy Glaus.

Would Braves general manager Frank Wren have to deal some prospects for Gonzalez? Yes. Do the Braves still feel somewhat burned by the Mark Teixeira trade? Probably. But there comes a time when a franchise has to push the button on a deal, and the Braves can’t afford to drop too far out of the race and potentially miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season.

Now, back to Glaus. There is no shortage of problems in the lineup. We can start at leadoff, where the Braves are batting a sickly .091 — last in the majors by a longshot. Texas is next lowest at .138. The major league average is .252.

Detroit, which is led by would-be Brave Johnny Damon’s .323, is hitting .313 at leadoff. Sorry, just had to throw that in.

Chances are the Braves will have to deal with the leadoff issue all season.  Their hope is that Nate McLouth or another player eventually gets hot (or even tepid) in that role. Or that Jordan Schafer can be brought back up and he takes it over.  There just aren’t a lot of great leadoff hitters around.

The Glaus situation is different. The worst news is not that he stinks (.186 batting average, 17 strikeouts in 59 at-bats; slugging percentage of .305, even worse than Omar Infante’s .346). The worst news is that he might not get better. Consider that Glaus’ career stats show that his best months are April and May. In other words, this might be as good as it gets.

The career splits:

March: .250.

April: .276.

May: .270.

June: .233

July: .242

August: .252

September: .258

October: .151.

For what it’s worth, here are Gonzalez’ current statistics: .317, 6 homers, 14 RBI, .667 slugging, .429 on-base percentage, 1.095 OPS.

So the question is: How long can Wren afford to wait before pursuing a deal? And since some of you will bring up Freddie Freeman, here’s my view: Freeman can stay in the minors one more season. He’s not ready yet. Next year is next year, and that issue can be dealt with then. It’s about making something of this season.

Earlier posts today

Grading Falcons’ drafts, from Roddy (A) to Jimmy (ugh)

Draft report card: Graders get an F, Falcons get 3 to 5 years

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

389 comments Add your comment

Carl Spackler

April 26th, 2010
2:35 pm

But Jeff, just last week you maintained that the Braves proved to the Phillies and you that they are a force to be reckoned with–that “they aren’t going away.”

Whatever

April 26th, 2010
2:38 pm

Maybe we can send Lowe as part of the deal.

Newbomb Turk

April 26th, 2010
2:40 pm

Seems like the last time we traded for a San Diego 1st Baseman, it turned out pretty well….

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2010
2:41 pm

Carl — Yes, well my confidence is waning. Put it this way: I think it’s unusual that EVERYBODY is slumping at the same time. I don’t think that’s going to last. I don’t think they’ll drop out of sight in the race. But I do believe the Troy Glaus problem will linger. How’s that for a save?

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2010
2:42 pm

Newbomb Turf … Fred Mc…..what was his name?

Roy Hobbs

April 26th, 2010
2:43 pm

One more facet not being mentioned is the gaping hole at 3B should this be Chippers last year. We can hope that, in the form of Freeman and Schaefer, the heir apparent at 1B and OF is currently in the Braves organization. The same cant really be said for 3B.

Yunel Asscobar

April 26th, 2010
2:43 pm

Jeff – you are right on target. We had great defense and a solid bat in LaRoche, but WrongWayWren dumped him in favor of an aging, injured, dude who’s playing out of position. Gonzalez would be a ppowerful addition to this lineup and if you have to give up Freeman to get him, so be it. Wren tinkers, always pointing to next year, makes inadequate off season moves, then goes into his “hope so” strategy mode. He’s not getting it done. The empty seats at the Ted are Wren’s legacy.

Greg

April 26th, 2010
2:44 pm

Jeff- If you listened to Wren on 680’s Chuck and Chernoff today, you would know that he is actually not concerned about Glaus at all. I dont think I’ve heard so many excuses about someone since the Don Waddell era…. oh wait.

Basically he said he’s not concerned but in actuality he is pleased with Glaus.

Just food for though- the addition of A-Gonzo would make our lineup even more unbalanced as far as left-handed power is concerned.

Adding a huge salary at the position your top prospect plays doesnt make a whole lot of sense, especially in this case where we need a RH power bat to hit between McCann and Heyward.

GoBraves

April 26th, 2010
2:46 pm

This sums it up for me, Jeff: “4) His name isn’t Troy Glaus.”

That is all.

TampaGator

April 26th, 2010
2:47 pm

How about this deal?….send Freeman and the young pitcher we got from the Yankees in the “Great Give Away” deal to the Padres for Gonzalez and then sign him to a long-term deal ASAP.

Clay

April 26th, 2010
2:48 pm

The problem with this is as soon as Gonzalez hit a mini-slump, Coach Pendleton would have him batting .200!

Just kidding (partly). I’m with you, Jeff. Gonzalez is only 27, so one prospect you could part with is Freeman, if you can lock up Gonzalez for 5 years as part of the deal.

Tucker T

April 26th, 2010
2:48 pm

The Padres are playing well right now I don’t see them dealing Gonzalez at least for a few months. They will eventually tank but you can’t trade your best player when you are sitting in first place. Also, they will probably want Freeman in exchange. I don’t think I would do that. I can see Freeman replacing Glaus after the All-star break assuming that Freeman continues to tear it up…four homers so far and counting.

jaketekaj

April 26th, 2010
2:49 pm

Jeff – Who do you think are the trade chips the Braves hold at all?
I am assuming Freeman is untouchable like Heyward of 2009 and Hanson of 2008. The hot pitcher kid we got from the Yankees for Vasquez better not go anyway because that is probably the only thing of value from that trade. Minor and the future closer kid should hopefully stay (or we will keep signing geriatric closers past their prime)
The past couple of years, we kept hearing about exciting prospects in the farm… there was always a Hanson, Heyward, Freeman, Schafer, Gorkys etc etc.

Who do we have now that other teams want? Jo-Jo, Barbaro ?

TampaGator

April 26th, 2010
2:50 pm

By the way….didn’t everyone know that Mr. Glaus was going to hit into that double play last night. Automatic with this guy. And the “Great Cox” continues to hit him in the middle of the order!!! Brilliant…sort of like letting Charlie Liebrant face Kirby Puckett in the World Series. Both make sense, right?

Dap01

April 26th, 2010
2:50 pm

The Braves are baaaaaaaaaad!

Brownie

April 26th, 2010
2:53 pm

There have been any number of questionable trades made by the Braves over the past few years (most by Schuerholz) because of panic or the old “we’re one player away….”. And Jeff you brought up the best one: Teixeira, who actually played well for us but wasn’t enough of a difference-maker.

There are 2 primary questions concerning the potential of bringing in AG: are the Braves willing to wait a year or so on Freeman to be ready and “make do” with whatever first baseman are laying around in the corner of the closet (Glaus, Hinske, etc.)? If the answer is yes, then you must remember that even when Freddie is ready he’ll still be a rookie and will take a couple years to mature and become really productive (they’re not all Heywards).

The result of the above strategy is that the Braves will be below average and the next couple of years will likely be non-playoff efforts.

The second question would be: what will we have to give up to get Adrian G? We have a large number of great prospects (especially pitching) that we could trade, but I get a Tex-like flashback that we would be giving up too much. Question 2A: can we/will we afford to sign AG to an extended contract? If not, then don’t even bother with the whole thing, because we just repeat the Tex thing again.

There seems to be a history recently of struggling Braves players going elsewhere and playing better (the reason why is a discussion for another day)…Frenchy, DeRosa, Wainwright, Marquis, Kelly Johnson, Willy Harris, just to name a few recent candidates. So, do we dare tempt fate and do it again?? May be time to give up on Yunel Escobar and ship him off as the main bait for San Diego for AG. He’s talented, young and cheap (just up the Padres’ alley).

Maybe a change of scenary will help Escobar, because he obviously isn’t happy in Atlanta. Seems like he has no friends on this team, and he only talks to the bench coach, Chino (who no doubt will be gone right after Bobby retires). He’s no doubt a head case and needs to be moved before the Braves have to deal with paying him real money.

Wren….we’re not panicing, we just can see it for what it is. Time to start dealin’.

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2010
2:54 pm

Greg — I didn’t listen today. But it’s not surprising he would publicly express confidence. … On the LH, RH thing, I’ve always thought those things are overstated. A guy can either hit or he can’t.

Jeff Schultz

April 26th, 2010
2:56 pm

Jaketekaj — I would consider dealing the aforementioned hot pitcher you referred to from the Vasquez deal.

Roy Hobbs

April 26th, 2010
2:56 pm

One other comment. Regardless of whose fault the hitting is, I assume Bobby still makes out the lineup card. He is the one putting Glaus in the lineup, and in the 5 hole. Before we give up a bunch of prospects to rent a player, shouldn’t Hinkse get a few dozen at bats to see what he can do?

come on

April 26th, 2010
2:58 pm

all the people that don’t want to give ip freeman for a proven hitter are crazy. with agonz u know what u r getting, and with freeman there is noway to know how he will do in the pros. make the deal and lock him up to 5 to 7

nique

April 26th, 2010
2:59 pm

Who would the Braves have to trade for Gonzo? Seems like Padres would want Freeman.

calibre lake dawg

April 26th, 2010
3:02 pm

I understand your pain Roy. I too have been waiting to see what’s to become of chipper but if he can’t stay healthy then he is no good and we need to move on. 38 is not old unless we are talking sports and he’s getting up there. Plays like last night wet ball or not were plays that were made on the reg when he was a little younger. Just saying it’s sad but maybe it’s time to go

Derek

April 26th, 2010
3:03 pm

Here’s a novel idea: Start over. Don’t trade away young talent and ride the season out, good or bad. When Bobby retires after this season, acquire a brand new coaching staff. Just. Start. Over. This team has a lot of young, promising talent at the major league level and in the minors. The net benefit of trading some or most of those players to acquire Gonzalez won’t be worth it.

Braves Man

April 26th, 2010
3:03 pm

I think the one who need sto go is Pendleton. Trade him to somebody and get a bag of balls and maybe a bat or two. Throw in Chipper’s old, washed up self while we are at it.

mountain_jim

April 26th, 2010
3:04 pm

Wren sure knows how to trade for hitting talent!

Matt

April 26th, 2010
3:04 pm

Schultz – you do realize that there’s another team out there called the Red Sox who have been looking at this guy for a long time. Do you actually think that the Braves and going get this guy over them? There’s only one team that get’s a guy of this caliber over them, and that’s the Yankees. Wishful thinking though………

Roy Hobbs

April 26th, 2010
3:05 pm

I hate to see him go, but the fact is Chipper is the one that said if this year is like last he is going to retire. You have to at least consider that this might be his last year.

Brian from SC

April 26th, 2010
3:07 pm

What you fail to mention is that San Diego will probably not be looking to deal him this year unless they get an overwhelming package, a la Teixeira. He’s only going to be paid 5.5 million next year. The Padres should actually have a little money to spend this off-season. Maybe call em in July of 2011.

But thanks for stating the obvious. Yeah, every team would love to have Adrian Gonzalez. Groundbreaking thought there.

Terry Pendleton

April 26th, 2010
3:07 pm

I’ve noticed a little problem in Adrian’s swing, but I’ll get that straightened out in no time once he arrives in Atlanta.

Greg

April 26th, 2010
3:08 pm

Jeff- regarding the LH vs RH thing, I wish you would tell Bobby that.

Watching him trot Melky Cabrera out there day in and day out is painful. His defense makes me yearn for Ryan Klesko and his offense makes me yearn for….. well…. Ryan Klesko.

Let Diaz and McLouth get their at bats in and right the ship and keep Melky on the pine to pinch run. (McCann may be the only one on the team, though, that Melky would be an upgrade for on the basepaths).

Lowcountry Bulldawg

April 26th, 2010
3:08 pm

The talent would be like this

Freeman
Vizcaino
Minor

for

Gonzalez

Gives the Padres the replacement for 2011. A possible starter in 2011 in Minor and a high ceiling Pitcher in Vizcaino.

This trade does involve 3 of the top 10 prospects in the organization, but again with the value in Gonzalez’s contract the Padres can leverage that type of trade, but at 11-6 I dont think the move will come soon at all. This is going to be the hard part to figure out for them. The longer the season plays out the lessa likely it will be for the Braves to justify moving that much young talent.

Brownie

April 26th, 2010
3:10 pm

Not to be redundant, but I think Wren has to figure out what they are: a good team just a guy or two away? Or are they rebuilding??

What we’ve been doing is pretending we’re still the Braves of the 90’s with a few major pieces, and then management fills in the other spots with cheap options. News Flash: strategy isn’t working!! Counting the last 3 or 4 years of Schuelholz’s reign, the Braves have essentially been non-contenders for almost a decade now.

IF the minors ARE filled with all these great prospects, then I would suggest it’s time to declare a rebuilding program. The time is right: Chipper is burnt toast, Bobby is retiring, a whole new coaching staff will be coming in (please oh please not Pendleton) and they’ve pretty much got only a few decent pieces here right now (Mac, Prado, Heyward, Hanson, JJ, Medlin, some good bullpen guys).

Yeah, I know, the Braves will stink for a couple of years or so….but then, how do you like them right now?? At least we’ll get to see some youngsters playing hard and getting their major league legs. All you need to do is look at the Rays to see that it can be fun to root for them.

So, Gonzo can be a cornerstone for years to come providing leadership for the young guys, OR you can wait and hope that Freeman is the real deal. It all comes down to how they want to spend their money.

Nick in PA

April 26th, 2010
3:10 pm

How could the Braves afford to pay Gonzo, Heyward, Hanson and Jurrjens??

F-105 Thunderchief

April 26th, 2010
3:11 pm

Heck, trade Freeman for Gonzalez. Or teach Freeman to play third. If it can happen, don’t let a prospect hold you back.

Tmac

April 26th, 2010
3:11 pm

I got a question…

When does a hitting instructor be held accountable for a lineup that continues to underachieve or even get worse over the course of each year?

I’m not looking to start a “witch hunt” for Terry Pendleton… I like him and think he is a good guy.
BUT, his name is rumored to be in the running for the successor to Bobby Cox.

And i think, based on what? The way he’s improved the batting in this lineup over the last 5 years?
I honestly don’t know how he has held his current job based on the results…

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 26th, 2010
3:12 pm

sounds good on paper but if gonzo were to become a brave- keep him away from TP. atlanta baseball is quickly becoming the detroit lions of football.

Big B CH 99

April 26th, 2010
3:12 pm

Liberty Media is to cheap to be able to sign Gonzalez to a long term contract. Just like Tex, it’d a rental for a yr and a half.

sippin the koolaid

April 26th, 2010
3:12 pm

no more one fix trades. we have given away the house for texiera. help. We need more than one player to fix this mess. escobar is a joke, glaus is just pathetic. All of the players are forcing it so much, it is painful to watch. i know we have faced good pitching, but i don’t know how many off the plate first pitches we have been lunging at, and then down the tube third strikes we have been looking at. Who is coaching these guys?we have no speed, no power and now the pitchers are starting to get sloppy. I can’t much blame them. The last two to three years, no offense except in a few one game outburts. this will take years to fix, by then maybe we will have new owners committed to winning.

Andrew in CT

April 26th, 2010
3:13 pm

The Padres may be willing to give up Gonzalez. I have a feeling it would come at a steep cost though. Something like Freeman, Minor, Vizcaino/Teheran and Kimbrel. Would you be willing to mortgage the entire farm system for less than 2 years of Gonzalez? Not sure I would…

Brian from SC

April 26th, 2010
3:13 pm

Another unrealistic trade proposal. If it took five or so of our top prospects to get a year and a half of Teixeira, why would people think it would take half of that to get Gonzalez? I would think they would want Freeman, Vizcaino, Teheran, and a couple other pitching prospects. In other words, our future first baseman, and about 3/5ths of our future rotation.

Nick in PA

April 26th, 2010
3:13 pm

Look at what the Padres wanted for Peavy. Double that for A Gon.

Andrew in CT

April 26th, 2010
3:14 pm

Also, Gonzalez has stated that since he signed his last contract on the cheap, he will be going for BIG bucks on his next contract. Don’t see the Braves being able to afford that.

Rough Estimate

April 26th, 2010
3:15 pm

Jeff, I love your comment that this season is this season and you can deal with next season next year. That is so true. Wren’s one-year stopgap of Troy Glaus until Freeman is ready, just wasn’t the answer. Gonzalez (or someone better than Glaus) should have been pursued in the offseason, but Wren wouldn’t do it because he was too worried about NEXT season Freddie Freeman. Now THIS SEASON is going down the drain real fast.

Brian

April 26th, 2010
3:15 pm

And the Braves would stand zero chance of signing Gonzalez long term. You would think we would have learned from the Teixeira deal. I think the Braves have, but obviously some sportswriters haven’t.

Narc Daddy

April 26th, 2010
3:15 pm

It would be great to aquire AG, however, who do you plan on trading?
If not Freeman, who? btw it would take much more. The Red Sox have way more to offer (Buchholtz and Bard) than ATL.

Change

April 26th, 2010
3:16 pm

EPIC FAIL….

But there comes a time when a franchise has to push the button on a deal, and the Braves can’t afford to drop too far out of the race and potentially miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season.

Please explain….???

You can’t see the forest for the trees….It is called rebuilding for the future instead of mortgaging your farm system for a rental player…ie…TEX and JD Drew

What is one more season w/o a playoff apperance? Just making the playoffs isn’t the goal…winning the World Series is the goal.

Please

Brian from SC

April 26th, 2010
3:16 pm

If the Padres did for some reason entertain the thought of trading Gonzalez this season, he will wind up in Boston.

Tony(Brave fan in Orlando)

April 26th, 2010
3:17 pm

Yeah but, who will the Braves have to trade to get Adrian ? If Pads want Hanson or Jair or Heyward or Freeman, than I’m against getting Adrian.

Brian

April 26th, 2010
3:18 pm

I love it: less than a week ago, it was “Even in a loss, the Braves show they aren’t going away”. Now they need to mortgage the farm again for a year and a half of Adrian Gonzalez. Whatever gets the page hits up, I guess.

Bat Masterson

April 26th, 2010
3:18 pm

Not gonna happen, wouldn’t be prudent.