Braves, Wren send right message with deadline trades

Rick Ankiel, a converted pitcher, hit 25 homers in 2008 and will fill the Braves' void in center field.

Rick Ankiel, a converted pitcher, hit 25 homers in 2008 and will fill the Braves' void in center field.

Sports fans scream for a championship every season. But really all most expect is for somebody in the executive suite — whether it’s the person who’s making trades or clutching the checkbook — to care as much as they do.

As a general rule, “We’re building for next season,” just doesn’t play well with the guy in the $6 seat.

Given that, the Braves should be commended today. They’re being as passionate and proactive off the field as they have been on it. They’re trying to win now, not sitting back and praying for unicorns.

Maybe Philadelphia’s acquisition of Roy Oswalt spooked them a little. Maybe they see something special in this team. Maybe they’re intent on trying to send Bobby Cox out with a championship.

Kyle Farnsworth excelled as a closer for the Braves in 2005.

Kyle Farnsworth excelled as a closer for the Braves in 2005.

Does it matter?

Drink this up Atlanta: You have a team going for a championship.

Faced with a tight trade market and a thin budget, general manager Frank Wren managed to improve the team anyway. This is the way things are supposed to work with playoff contenders at trade deadlines.

Trade deadlines highlight the serious players and expose the pretenders.

The Braves made a five-player trade with Kansas City. Outfielder Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth come this way. Gregor Blanco, Jesse Chavez and prospect Tim Collins go that way. If you break this deal down by player, Chavez’s exit will result in the loudest single cheer. At some point, the question became not whether he would make it as a Brave, but whether he would make it to the parking lot.

He had a 5.89 ERA. He had given up six home runs, 40 hits and 12 walks in 36 2/3 innings. Torch-carrying villagers were starting to wait for him outside the stadium.

But Ankiel and Farnsworth provide immediate help. Ankiel can fill the Braves’ black hole in center field. He brings some power (having his 25 homers in 2008), even if he’s currently hitting only .261 with four homers. Farnsworth, who was briefly a lights-out closer for the Braves in 2005, has been strong out of the bullpen this season (3-0, 2.42).

Neither is a centerpiece. Neither has to be.

They fit what the Braves need and what this team has become. The roster lacks star power, but makes up for it in depth, aggressiveness and chemistry. They just needed a boost lately, with Philadelphia rising, the lineup settling and Troy Glaus looking more and more like a one-month wonder.

Credit Wren. If this and other recent moves lead to the Braves’ first postseason berth since 2005, he may have just sewed up Executive of the Year honors.

Approaching the trade deadline, Wren had to feel like he was duct-taped to a lamp post. Dead money was killing the budget. Fact is, for all of Wren’s success in rebuilding the roster over the past three years, he still was paying the price for three significant miscalculations: Derek Lowe (four years, $60 million), Kenshin Kawakami (three years, $23 million) and Nate McLouth (three years, $15.75 million). The three read like a bad 401k portfolio.

Lowe was signed to be an ace. He quickly become a fourth starter making $15 million a year. Kawakami was signed to be a second or third starter. By midway through this season he couldn’t even hang on to the No. 5 job and was jettisoned to the bullpen.

Nobody has seen him since. He’s like D.B. Cooper.

McLouth, acquired from Pittsburgh, was expected to be the perfect bridge to Jordan Schafer. That’s an “oops” to the second power.

Expensive mistakes hamstring general managers. Lowe, Kawakami and McLouth represent $27 million of an $85 million payroll (31.7 percent) this season. Factor in Chipper Jones’ $14 million contract, and that’s $41 million for four players (48.2 percent).

Wren suggested in recent days that he likely wouldn’t do anything. The market was too tight. The budget seemed blown. He also kind of liked his team.

“We’re talking to teams,” Wren said a few days ago, “but we’re not putting a full-court press on.”

Either he was being less than truthful then or something changed. Doesn’t matter. He chose not to sit back. Serious teams don’t do that. The message about this season seems clear.

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490 comments Add your comment

Whitney Houston

July 31st, 2010
6:23 pm

first, bobby?

Whitney Houston

July 31st, 2010
6:24 pm

Hell to the yeah, Bobby!!

Whitney Houston

July 31st, 2010
6:25 pm

Like a virgin….first for the very first time…

Whitney Houston

July 31st, 2010
6:25 pm

Guess I should read the article now, huh?

double g

July 31st, 2010
6:28 pm

Basically it’s a Blanco for Ankiel, and Chavez and minor leaguer for Farnsworth. Salaries go out after this year, pending options. It’s not a case of one team getting the better of the other, but instead KC getting the future, ATL getting the present.

double g

July 31st, 2010
6:29 pm

And who’s Bobby?

nickgranite

July 31st, 2010
6:29 pm

“Lowe was signed to be an ace.”

I can’t think of one brave fan that I have talked to that thought Lowe was an “ace” when he was signed.

matt r

July 31st, 2010
6:30 pm

Fantastic, maybe we can lead the division in message-sending instead of wins.

The Real Brave

July 31st, 2010
6:32 pm

But can we hit!

Jon

July 31st, 2010
6:32 pm

Great message indeed! Let’s pickup a steroid user to win a few more games.

Jon

July 31st, 2010
6:34 pm

The guy above is a poser and not the real Jon.

"Chef" Tim Dix

July 31st, 2010
6:34 pm

How many time times have we mined our Triple A, K.C. affiliate.

That said, how many were keepers?

Jon

July 31st, 2010
6:35 pm

I wasn’t aware that there was only Jon on this planet.

tiger7_88

July 31st, 2010
6:37 pm

Right, nickgranite… if memory serves, the Braves tried and lost on a couple of other free agents to sign an “ace”. When they weren’t able to make it happen, they signed Lowe not as an “ace” but as an adequate “innings eater”.

CSpin

July 31st, 2010
6:39 pm

Couldn’t even finish this. Ankiel is not the player he was in 2008. C’mon.

BMC

July 31st, 2010
6:39 pm

I would rather have Blanco than Ankiel.Farnsworth is a good pick-up and Chavez always drove me crazy,not so mad to see him go,even if he is young and could develope,No place for on the job training these last two months of the season,unless you are going to bring Freddie F. up to pinch hit and rest Glause.

Jon

July 31st, 2010
6:39 pm

It sounds like I’m talking to myself. Or that you’re talking to yourself.

Tom

July 31st, 2010
6:39 pm

looking at farnsworth’s career numbersm he is fine as long there is no pressure on him to perform. his best years were with teams with no playoff expectation. Rick Ankiel i have visions of 6 wild pitches or so in an inning…….

Jon

July 31st, 2010
6:40 pm

@CSpin: He doesn’t have to be the person he was in 2008. He just has to be better than Melky/Nate/Gregor.

Chippers Daddy

July 31st, 2010
6:43 pm

don’t like this deal at all, not because of what we gave up, which really wasnt much, but its what we got, which isnt much either. lol. a low career avg. hitter and Kyle who is the only thing i like in this deal.

level

July 31st, 2010
6:45 pm

DB Cooper? Showing your age, there, ain’t you, Jeff? Why not, “He’s like Jimmy Hoffa?” By the way, I think it is a trade that could really help the Braves. Neither Mickey Mantle nor Rollie Fingers were available, and that’s who most fans want their GM to trade for this time every year.

Jon

July 31st, 2010
6:47 pm

Hey, sorry I’m late, did I miss the meeting of the Jon’s club?

BravesFan

July 31st, 2010
6:50 pm

Like the Farnsworth part, not the Ankiel part. Really? I’d rather have Blanco. They shoulda given Schafer up, he’s washed up, his career is ruined. The good news is maybe we get Blanco up soon, by recalling him from AAA KC.

Joe Mama and Angie Daddy

July 31st, 2010
6:54 pm

Oh Yeah! We’ve got the Phillies trembling in their cleats now! Why didn’t you just keep Blanco? What a joke this trade was.

Bob in SF

July 31st, 2010
6:54 pm

Seriously? The Braves trade a tomato can pitcher, a replacement level CF and a fringe prospect for a guy who crumbles under pressure and another dude who can’t stay healthy, isn’t a very good center fielder, doesn’t get on base much but occasionally hits a HR and we’re hailing it as a sign from the heavens the Braves are serious about winning?
Fail.

sid's bream

July 31st, 2010
6:54 pm

Sure we have one of the best bullpens in the league and just got better with Farnsworth, but we still have no offense ( I present today’s game as exhibit A). What good is a great bullpen if Bobby doesn’t know how to use it, i.e. leaving starters in too long when they obviously don’t have it (once again I point to exhibit A), or when we don’t have a lead to protect because our offense doesn’t score?
Unless Ankiel just rakes here and Glaus pulls a Lazarus and resurrects his hitting, I see this lead slipping away by the end of the week.

Alan

July 31st, 2010
6:55 pm

Yippe yay. How about the bad yunel trade. Another out by Gonzalez. What a shocker. This trade means nothing and doesn’t help at all.

moboman

July 31st, 2010
6:55 pm

Not impressed. No faith in Farnsworth, and Ankiel doesnt offer much more than Melky. Just a trade for trade’s sake. And we gave up a prospect.

Braves91fan

July 31st, 2010
6:58 pm

Farnsworth good. Great pick up. Ankiel lets hop for the best. Has to be better that Nate or Melky.

ryan

July 31st, 2010
6:58 pm

With Prado out they had to make this move you hate to give some prospects but they did get one back in Ramires from the Tigers and the Phillies are coming back.

[...] Braves, Wren send right message with deadline trades | Jeff Schultz – Jeff Schultz [...]

sid's bream

July 31st, 2010
7:03 pm

There’s a definite message being sent, but I don’t think it’s about a dedication to winning. So far, Gonzalez has not been an upgrade at shortstop, and I can’t imagine Ankiel being an upgrade over Blanco. I feel good about Farnsworth, and really good about getting rid of Chavez (that guy made me nervous every time he toed the rubber), but we just don’t have the offense to stay in first or even make it to the postseason.

BravesFan

July 31st, 2010
7:04 pm

Who made this trade? Bobby? I mean holy s**t, it’s awful. They better get someone thru waiver wire or bring up Freeman and rest Glaus for the next 2 months. Glaus’s knees ache, so he has no power cuz he’s hitting with his arms.

Mitch

July 31st, 2010
7:04 pm

Dang JH at least swing.

Rick Ankiel

July 31st, 2010
7:05 pm

[...] East-leading Atlanta Braves have acquired outfielder Rick Ankiel reliever Kyle Farnsworth and cashRick Ankiel – Kansas City Royals trade OF Rick Ankiel reliever Kyle Farnsworth to Atlanta Braves – games -The [...]

FlaReptile

July 31st, 2010
7:06 pm

Are you really serious??? This trade was a waste of print space. This team cant hit and it showed again today. Cox would have a better chance of driving in runners. We should have kept Blanco at least he brought speed. How many times can one organization follow the same blue print with only 1 ring to show for it.

sanantoniobravesfan

July 31st, 2010
7:07 pm

sid’s bream:

with the phillies playing the nats tonight, you can bet we’ll be back to 2.5 games by the end of the day

Numbers

July 31st, 2010
7:07 pm

Yunel since trade

Last 10 Games (Season Game Log) Season to Date
Date Opponent Score AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Jul 30 CLE W 8-1 5 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .258 .342 .322 .663
Jul 28 BAL W 5-0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .256 .341 .320 .661
Jul 27 BAL W 8-2 5 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .259 .345 .325 .670
Jul 26 BAL W 9-5 5 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 .253 .341 .320 .661
Jul 25 @ DET L 5-6 5 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 .254 .343 .319 .662
Jul 25 @ DET W 5-3 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .255 .345 .321 .666
Jul 24 @ DET W 3-2 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .252 .344 .318 .662
Jul 22 @ DET L 2-5 4 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .252 .345 .319 .664
Jul 19 @ KAN L 4-5 4 1 2 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 .252 .346 .317 .662
Jul 18 @ BAL W 10-1 4 2 3 0 0 1 5 0 0 0 0 .248 .342 .303 .645
Total 314 37 81 14 0 2 27 38 36 5 2 .258 .342 .322 .663

Alex since trade
Last 10 Games (Season Game Log) Season to Date
Date Opponent Score AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Jul 30 @ CIN W 6-4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .261 .302 .485 .788
Jul 28 @ WAS W 3-1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 .261 .302 .485 .788
Jul 27 @ WAS L 0-3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .264 .306 .491 .796
Jul 25 @ FLA L 4-5 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .266 .308 .495 .802
Jul 24 @ FLA W 10-5 4 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .269 .309 .500 .809
Jul 23 @ FLA L 6-7 5 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .269 .308 .500 .808
Jul 22 SDG W 8-0 5 1 4 1 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 .268 .307 .499 .805
Jul 21 SDG L 4-6 5 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .260 .300 .491 .792
Jul 20 SDG W 4-1 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .258 .299 .487 .786
Jul 18 MIL W 11-6 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .258 .299 .490 .789

BravesFan

July 31st, 2010
7:08 pm

If anything i like the prospect we got from detroit. maybe he’ll be ready next year. still hate to see blanco gone though. :(

country boy

July 31st, 2010
7:09 pm

hello Jeffy Boy. Sadly I’m beginning to agree with your accessment of Glaus.

G

July 31st, 2010
7:12 pm

Seriously? We are supposed to applaud this trade based on a guys stats from 2008!! We won’t ever get to Farnsworth if we don’t start scoring some runs. Lets take a look at Wren’s record:

1. McClouth – in the minors
2. Adding Schafer to the lineup last season – in AA
3. Lowe – over paid for a 4th starter
4. Cabrera – really a fifth or sixth outfielder
5. Glaus – what I figured, the guy would start to fade in the second 1/2… He is too old and banged up
6. Kawakami – he is MIA
7. Gonzalez – not lived up to his billing

This trade just allows a mediocre GM to say; “well we tried to make our team better. We have just had some guys hurt and had some tough breaks.”

DaveinNEPA

July 31st, 2010
7:12 pm

Blanco wasn’t going to help us much so long as Bobby batted him 8th in the order. His speed and OBP pretty much got negated by that.

As for Chavez………not sorry to see him go.

Whatever we get from Ankiel has to be better than we’ve gotten from Melky/McCouth. Melky has a respectable average but we haven’t gotten much bang for the buck from him. Now he can be that 4/5th OFer we expected him to be.

Farnsworth won’t be called upon to close for this team unless something unforesee happens to Wags. He’ll become another solid piece to an already stellar pen.

Does this trade make the Braves better? I would have to think so.

todd grantham

July 31st, 2010
7:13 pm

Jeffrey,

funny and informative piece. thanks

Bama man

July 31st, 2010
7:14 pm

Sure hate to Grego. Is the new center fielder the guy that use to pitch?

carlchamblee

July 31st, 2010
7:14 pm

Seriously Schulz – you really think this trade “sends a message”? Really? Or is this just the usual lapdog local Braves media pap?

You’re actually gonna quote a 2008 stat to praise Ankiel? LOL that was McLouth’s “breakout” season too! hahaha

A clear message? Yeah, we got into first place by being a patient team that manufactures runs. We now have a new SS and Cf with 250 liefetime avgs that strikeout a lot and dont take walks w whoping 300 OBPs.

Seriously Schulz – at least TRY to have some dignity when shilling for the organization.

todd grantham

July 31st, 2010
7:15 pm

G, i agree complely with your pithy assessments.

Colonel Claude

July 31st, 2010
7:15 pm

Braves are saddled with terrible additions by Wren: Glaus, Lowe, KK, McLouth, Melky, wow–so impressive. A deal involving 5 no-name players a “message”? Too many butt kissers in this town, including the columnists who write for this paper.

Bill

July 31st, 2010
7:15 pm

Love the Trade.
Jeff, 1st base is killing us. Braves need to call up Freeman are make a trade off waivers . This gets old. Thanks for up date Jeff.

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Jeff Schultz

July 31st, 2010
7:16 pm

Nickgranite — I agree with you. But $60 million doesn’t scream No. 4 starter.