Braves or Falcons: Who’s taking bigger risk minus big move?

"So Chipper: What do you think we should do before the trade deadline?"

"So Chipper: What do you think we should do before the trade deadline?"

Over the next few days, how the Braves and Falcons are viewed could change significantly. Or not at all. Here’s the question: Which team would be taking the bigger risk by doing nothing?

The breakdown:

♦ Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is Sunday. The feeling here is that the Braves need to do something.

Which team in greater need of a move?

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I wasn’t completely convinced of this. But when center fielder Jordan Schafer’s finger injury turned out to be a slight bone chip and not just a sprain, and Chipper Jones tweaked his quadriceps in his first game back from a knee injury, it raised the level of concern. Adding Carlos Beltran to the rotation of outfielders — he can play center or right field, possibly in a platoon with the struggling Jason Heyward — would be huge. I know some are pushing for Houston’s Hunter Pence instead, but given that Pence is a 28-year-old batting .308, logic says he would cost significantly more in a trade — and there’s no certainty general manager Frank Wren even wants to give the New York Mets pitching prospect Mike Minor for Beltran.

♦ The Falcons decided to go the route of offense at the top of their draft, taking Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. But now that the lockout is over and free agency is here, the defense needs to be addressed.

I know some fans were upset with the drafting of Jones, given that their last view of the Falcons had the defense getting dismembered by the Green Bay Packers. But the offense needed another game-breaker, somebody who can change the tone of a game. Jones does that

But now, the pass rush must be improved. There are increasing indications that the Falcons may be priced out of the market for the likes of Ray Edwards and Carolina’s Charles Johnson. General manager Thomas Dimitroff’s focus right now appears to be on keeping the bulk of the starting offensive line intact, particularly tackle Tyson Clabo and guard Harvey Dahl. That would be a positive. But to assume the defense is going to get better just because Peria Jerry will be another year removed from a major injury and other young players will be further along is risky.

Who would be taking the bigger risk by doing nothing? It’s close. But I’ll say the Falcons. The Braves showed their resiliency last season after a flurry of injuries. Adding Beltran or Pence turns a strong team into a potential World Series team. But if the Falcons don’t add a pass rusher, they’re banking on a lot of things going right, particularly with their front four.

Ideally, both franchises make a move.

What are your thoughts — who’s taking the bigger risk with no move?

By Jeff Schultz

Previously: Blank will repay staff for payroll cuts during lockout

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

186 comments Add your comment

Fish Bisch

July 26th, 2011
9:29 am

The Braves are fading fast. No playoffs this year without a big splash.

JYD

July 26th, 2011
9:29 am

TLanceB

July 26th, 2011
9:30 am

Braves

They have the Phillies ahead of them and they have the most holes of the teams fighting for the playoffs in the National League. Schafer is headed to the DL, Uggla isn’t hitting his weight (i’m guessing Dan is 209 lbs, minimum, he’s hitting .195), The best three relievers are overworked, and Heyward and Chipper are made of paper mache.

The Falcons need defensive help but they added a wide receiver with big play potential. Even if they don;’t add Ray Edwards, they can score 24 to 27 a game and win 12.

The Braves will not advance further without a right handed outfield bat, and another relief pitcher.

PMC

July 26th, 2011
9:30 am

It depends on the goals of the team.

The Falcons seem like they want to win the superbowl. So if that’s the case, if they want to win in the playoffs and at least make the NFC championship game they have to improve the pass rush with a higher quality more proficient defensive end, to bolster their roster and depth. They have to. The Braves goals are different.

The Braves aren’t really trying to win. See the 88M payroll. See the incredibly pathetic outfield (Prado doesn’t count he’s an infielder) See the Aged left side of the infield. See the stock pile of hot minor league prospects. The Braves are trying to be a decent club that’s in the hunt and interesting enough to sell tickets They aren’t trying to win championships. If they were, they’d have better position players. All they do is stockpile pitching.

MatthewH

July 26th, 2011
9:31 am

Falcons need D-Line help. Another bat would be nice fore the Braves, but they need to get the bats they have to start hitting. So, I say Falcons.

AJC Editor

July 26th, 2011
9:32 am

Schultz – Who is your editor? Unacceptable.

“and center fielder Chipper Jones tweaked his quadriceps in his first game back from a knee injury, it raised the level of concern.”

Fish Bisch

July 26th, 2011
9:33 am

I was also hoping the falcons would get rid of Christopher Owens. He was targeted the most by Rodgers and continually got burned.

MatthewH

July 26th, 2011
9:33 am

Sorry,should be “for”. Guess my mind is on the golf course.

peacengrits75

July 26th, 2011
9:33 am

Caught two typos…but who’s counting? They both need to make some kind of move…period.

WE DAT

July 26th, 2011
9:35 am

Falcons have an ultimatum ahead of them, keep your offensive line in tact or go for a HR with C. Johnson or Edwards. No move is a bad one. If i give up one prospect it’s Mike Minor. Beltran’s bat is super hot and could possibly put us over the phils for the play-offs.

SeenThisB4

July 26th, 2011
9:37 am

The Braves, by default. It doesn’t matter what the falcan’ts do, keep their OLinemen or spend money on a DE, it won’t matter, they don’t have the “it” factor this year. And worse for them, their foundation is cracked and seeping and they don’t even know it,….yet.

bibbs

July 26th, 2011
9:37 am

im not sure, but hasnt beltran proven to be a bit fragile over the years? this looks strictly like a rental. is minor too much to give up for that? with our wealth of pitching i think we could make significant trades in the off season and not be forced into a deal now. If gonzo and heyward continue to strike out more often then not and chipper doesnt stay healthy, its not gonna matter this year anyway

oldmike

July 26th, 2011
9:39 am

If the Braves indeed want to be legitimate contenders this year they need to make a major move. The addition of Beltran will improve their everyday lineup immeasurably. Even if it costs Minor so be it. How many well pitched games have we lost because we simply can’t muster enough runs? Lots this year folks. Heyward needs some time in Triple A to work on his mechanics. Gonzalez at short is a total waste. You could carry hsi pathetic average for his defense if the team had pop at other positions. But with the 2 thirds of the outfield hitting under .230 we can’t afford his lack of production and be competitive. Falcons need a pass rusher from the edge. Whatever Mr. Blank has to pony up to make that happen must be done. So the quick answer, Jeff, is they both need to make a splash. Slight edge to the Braves.

Hillbilly D

July 26th, 2011
9:41 am

The Falcons need help on both lines; the Braves are ahead of everybody but the Phillies. Trading for a 2 month Beltran rental would be a panic move, in my opinion. Not as bad as the Len Barker deal, (assuming they don’t give away Butler/Jacoby quality players) but still not good.

OEJ

July 26th, 2011
9:43 am

The Falcons are bieng very stupid by not trying to find a pass rusher. looking at who we have now, we wont get it done. DEFENSE wins games. Yes we have the opportunity to score alot of points, but what happens when we face a good defense and we cant score. If our defense cant stop anyone then we wont win. I hope these guys step up on the field or Dimitroff is going to feel real dumb by not taking advantage of free agency..I gurantee if the defense is not better than last year, ther will be alot of upset Falcons fans because what I saw last year needs a lot of improvement.

Delbert D.

July 26th, 2011
9:47 am

The Braves may not win the wild card, and I doubt that Beltran would be a big enough addition. Need to reassess at the end of the series with the Pirates.

SouthernFriedSkeptic

July 26th, 2011
9:49 am

I think you have to consider the overall repercussions of making a move. The Falcons, operating under a cap will have to make sacrifices to other areas of the team if they make a big move. Letting Snelling or half the O line go to make room for a big defensive FA may turn out brilliant or could come back to bite us if we plug one hole just to see the team spring a leak elsewhere.

The Braves on the other hand might could make a deal without sacrificing talent on the team (though they may have to give up some promising prospects). If they can get a solid bat in the lineup and maybe a bullpen arm to prevent appearance by Proctor, then it would be worth giving up minor or another non-Teheran prospect since we have so much depth at the position. (Don’t forget Medlen and Moylan are coming back soon as well).

BullDogMike

July 26th, 2011
9:57 am

No trade for a big bat for the middle of the line-up equals no play-off this year…that’s a fact.

Joey

July 26th, 2011
9:57 am

The Braves. They only need another piece or two to get them to title contention.

The Falcons need a couple more defensive playmakers, but more than anything else, will need a different offensive philosophy to win in the playoffs. And that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

El Bravo

July 26th, 2011
10:00 am

The Falcons are in greater need of a move. The window of opportunity in the NFL is very small. The Falcons are primed to make a run to the SB over the next two years provided they make bold moves to bolster their defense. The Braves can make the wildcard with their current team. They also have a very large window of opportunity with their stable of young pitchers. Over the next two years we will have a ton of big contracts coming of the books (McClouth, Chipper, Lowe, Hudson) and an abundance of young pitching talent coming up (Teheran, Viscaino, Delgado, Medlen, Minor). That young pitching talent will give us the flexibility to court top-shelf free agents over the next few years. We could have the best pitching staff for the next decade and contend for multiple World Series…

Rowland Office Worker

July 26th, 2011
10:07 am

I am afraid I must agree with PMC. The Braves are trying to get as much as they can for the least amount of money. While that may make good business sense, it will not bring a championship to Atlanta. I have been trying to find the Braves’ financial reports on line this morning but can not find anything more recent than 2008. (Which shows a net profit of some $73 million,according to Forbes). While we all know that baseball is a business, if the ownership’s goal is to make a profit instead of win championships, then they will reach their goal. Unfortunately for the fans our goals will not be met. All that to say that the Brave’s need to make a move to prove to the fan base they want to win a World Series. If they make some minor move for a right handed hitting platoon player instead of an impact player, we will have our answer.

El Bravo

July 26th, 2011
10:12 am

Also, we will be able to shore up the bullpen with Viscaino, Teheran, Chapman, Lopez, Abreu or Delgado when rosters expand (or even before then if we decide to call any of them up).

NC Dawg

July 26th, 2011
10:14 am

Braves acquire Pence for Minor and 2 other minor leagers. Beltran is too injury prone and wouldn’t be around next year. Effort is made to sign Pence to multi-year extension.

Sonny Clusters

July 26th, 2011
10:15 am

We’d like to tip our cap to everybody this morning. tip, tip, tip. We aren’t usually cap tippers but you have to tip your cap to a team that can’t hit behind a runner, hit the cutoff man, or run the bases with conviction and can still attract fans to the ballpark. We’d also like to tip our cap to Chipper for hitting a homerun even though he’d already asked out of the game with a new tweak. Tweaking is normal for Chipper and we understand his Bobblehead is going to come with a built-in tweak. Booing is something Atlanta fans don’t do much of unless your name is Dan Kolb but some of the current Braves better get ready to hear some boos if they don’t get things going pretty soon. From 2 1/2 games back they have fallen like rocks.

El Bravo

July 26th, 2011
10:16 am

Talented young lefties don’t grow on trees. You do not give up Minor for a 35 year old, three month rental. Were we getting a young, talented outfielder in return it would be a different story…

PMC

July 26th, 2011
10:19 am

I would tip my cap for a blizzard.

TommyP

July 26th, 2011
10:25 am

Beltran in a possible platoon with Heyward?????? WTH?

They’re not giving up all those prospects to bring in Beltran to platoon. LOL

juice sourcer

July 26th, 2011
10:27 am

The braves…no way they can keep winning with 4 regulars hitting at or below the Mendosa line…smoke and mirrors works for only so long and the pitching can’t overcome this for 162 games.

Jeff Schultz

July 26th, 2011
10:29 am

Fish Bisch — Not a fade, but a hiccup. And they’ll make the playoffs.

Brandon

July 26th, 2011
10:29 am

I’m going to have to say the Braves take the bigger risk. To not deal from a position of incredible strength and have a clear, needed piece in the fold for the push would be foolish. The Falcons were the number one team last year and are poised to be able to do that again. They need a move yes but I think we can expect good things. I’m not sure the pitching will hold up this year for the Braves w/out more offense. Plus, we simply cannot count on Chipper making it through the season. I love him but can’t count on it at this point.

Old Blue

July 26th, 2011
10:31 am

I would tip my hat for the Gonzalez move to leadoff hitter. For at least one time, he would come to the plate and not hit into a rally killing double play and his strikeout would not be as great a factor.

Jeff Schultz

July 26th, 2011
10:31 am

NC Dawg — Yes, Beltran would be a rental and Pence would be a more permanent lineup change. But I’d be surprised if Wren made that kind of deal now. Just my opinion.

Jeff Schultz

July 26th, 2011
10:33 am

SouthernFriedSkeptic — You make good points. Braves not dealing with a salary cap (just a self-imposed one) and Falcons are. Braves have prospects to deal, Falcons have only draft picks (and trades are far less common in NFL). But bottom line is both teams in position to do something.

DawgFan

July 26th, 2011
10:39 am

Giving away Minor for Beltran could be seen as a Smoltz-for-Alexander type deal, but you have to look at what we are trying to accomplish. The Lineup needs a bat, and Minor isn’t going to provide that. We have pitching to spare without touching 90% of our farm system. Then again, Minor could go on to be a Roger Clemens-like player and lock down ten Cy Young awards. You never know, but you can’t let fear of the uncertain slow you down.

As for the Falcons, we got torched in one game. Granted, it was an important game, but still only one game. You don’t fall into the mindset of wholesale changes or panic mode because of one game. You assess the situation and figure out what needs to be fixed. The glaring need is a pass-rushing DE. There are two on the market who are still decently early in their careers and might make some noise for the Falcons D. I would say that this Falcons team is close to great things, but I know there are some Saints fans lurking around and just waiting to tell us how the Falcons will go 0-16 next year and how the Saints are the greatest team ever.

longtime bulldog

July 26th, 2011
10:45 am

Relax, there is plenty of baseball to be played.Even if the Braves do not make a move they have the talent to go far in the playoffs.We should get behind this team and help them achieve their goal.Do not give up 5 minutes before the miracle occurs.

extremus

July 26th, 2011
10:46 am

The NFL has a MUCH more unforgiving ceiling for championship aspirations than the crapshoot that is MLB playoff baseball, so the Falcons bear a far larger burden in this area than the Braves. I think the percentage of responses the Braves got here is at least partially based on the fact that the Braves are playing NOW as opposed to the Falcons; I would NOT have a great feeling if the NFL season started today without some moves having been made.

The Braves could clinch the Wild Card (a division title is looking less likely, though not totally impossible) with the pieces they have now…and though the odds are against it given how lousy the offense has been against even AVERAGE pitching, if they are hot at the right time they could bring home a World Series trophy.

Contrast that with the Falcons, who KNOW they likely won’t get past the likes of Green Bay or other current NFL powers without addressing weaknesses that those teams can and WILL exploit as they did last season. A strong defensive pass rush (and anything else that can improve the team) is an absolute MUST HAVE; they won’t go any further than they did last year without it.

mountain_jim

July 26th, 2011
10:53 am

I guess the new cap rules hurt the Falcons? Because they were indicating before lockout that now was the time and they needed to get more explosive on both sides of ball. How is keeping the Oline going to fix the sack-less dline? Those oliners are just average anyway, Ryan helps them out by getting ball out fast. I was thinking all of the young oliners drafted last 2 years would take over, and the FA money would go to the big DE I think they need.

Not happy to hear that is apparently not going to happen. Hope it;s a smiokescreen and they pry the Charlotte DE CJ away.

ryan

July 26th, 2011
10:54 am

I agree Braves are more likely to make a trade the Falcons will get a DE but a cheap one i think its smart move by focusing on the O- line .

the truth...

July 26th, 2011
10:56 am

To get to the Playoffs the Braves MUST get an infusion if not a transfustion of offense AND now pitching as well.

Beltran may provide te offensive boost, but is fragile himself AND is a “PURE RENTAL” meaning no draft pick comes back when this season is over. So his price is Minor….who for lots of other teams would be a starter now….

Either Pence and or Bourn would provide an impact but would cost considerably more; the upside would be that they provide some longer term offense and are established major league players, whose positions we have few or no Minor League prospects.

Then we have the Proctor bleeding….and that HAS to be stopped. Moylan and Medlen were projected to be back in August but now Medlen won’t be back until September if then.

So Pitching is now a major as is Offense….

Chipper is 38 and physically his legs aren’t holding up too well; how much more can we expect of him?

Bottom line is we have holes in our armor….come October we could be watching instead of playing if some major moves are not made….

Don Green

July 26th, 2011
10:59 am

I think the Braves need to make 2 moves. A right handed or switch hitting OF and a decent reliever that can give Venters and Kembrel a break. I think they are going to be worn out by September.

The problem I see with Beltran is that he is only hitting .232 against lefthanded pitching. Upton is only hitting .226 against left handed pitching.

I’d go all in on Pence or Rasmus (even if he is left handed). At least even if you don’t want to pay them next year, they have great market value for another trade next year.

Braves have to do something to jump start the team.

JackDennis

July 26th, 2011
11:01 am

Even with a healthy Schafer, Braves need more production out of center field. Is it me, or does
Schafer have a bit of an attitude?

twar

July 26th, 2011
11:02 am

The facts would suggest that payroll rules. Within that, the Braves have an opportunity to compete for the end goal NOW! For the team, for Chipper, each player wishes to win it all. For the fans, each one wishes to win it all. The next two months can be a most important piece to the legacy of winning. Without taking a major hit to the budget, winning it all is possible with “renting” the right player at the right time at the right price. Whether it be Minor or Major, it is time to drive the stake in the ground for winning now and next year. Welcome Bertran and best of luck to Minor.

Regarding football and the Falcons, that ball never did bounce right due to its odd shape. This is baseball season.

the truth...

July 26th, 2011
11:02 am

@DawgFan

You might want to stick to football after the analogy of the Smoltz-Alexander deal. A Minor-Beltran deal would give the Braves 2-3 months of Beltran and givs the Mets Minor for 5 years plus….

That is nothing like the Smoltz-Alexander deal…..in that one we got Smoltz for his career and Detroit got Alexander for 2-3 months or 1 1/2 years, can’t remember which…

On top of that if Beltran did not resign we would get ZERO compensation as in an additional draft pick.

the truth...

July 26th, 2011
11:04 am

@DawgFan

Oh…forgot, to sign Beltran beyond this year his cost would be projected at $17mil upwards….

Not going to do that for sure….

DawgFan

July 26th, 2011
11:12 am

@the truth…

My analogy of te Smoltz/Alexander deal was meant as the feeling that Braves fans would have in comparison to the feeling Tigers fans had after the deal. If Minor played out as a great pitcher, we’d probably feel pretty bad about it. Also, I’m pretty sure that when we traded for Smoltz we didn’t get him for the remainder of his career, we got him for the remainder of his contract, and then re-signed him.

jeff

July 26th, 2011
11:13 am

why no rumors on Matt Kemp? he would be the big fix the Braves need.

Don Green

July 26th, 2011
11:14 am

I think trading for Pence, Bourn, Upton or Rasmus is the smart move. If you are really concerned about the salary aspect, trade them during the off season. At least you have a chance to get value in return. If we go with Beltran you’ve got nothing to trade at season’s end. Plus I think Chipper is probably going to retire so you could afford another player next season.

This team really needs a spark plug at the top of the line up. Just in the last few days we have seen what players with speed, like Stubbs and McCutchen can do to spark a team. The Braves are sooooooooo slow, they just plod from base to base.

Jerious Norwood

July 26th, 2011
11:15 am

Hopefully the Falcons will take a hint from the Thrashers and move away!!!

Seen (The Aints) This (get obliterated) B4 (by the only sub-.500 playoff team in the history of pro football)

July 26th, 2011
11:22 am

Clearly the Braves. They barely hold on for the Wild Card if they don’t make a move NOW. The Birds can still compete as constructed, but still should make some moves (#1 is cutting Jamal Anderson TODAY).

the truth...

July 26th, 2011
11:25 am

@DawgFan

Smoltz was a kid and had no restrictions on us signing him and in those days there was no arbitration, etc. So we got a super hot prospect who is now a Hall of Famer….cheap at the time, and nothing but upside….Alexander was almost done and we had no playoff aspirations…

Beltran is a fragile super star who has nothing holding him back from going back to the Mets as the Free Agent he becomes after the 2011 World Series…incidentally Beltran has reportedly told the Mets he would consider resigning with them….

If it were a certainty that Beltran would take us to the WS it would be different….that is not for sure in any stretch of the imagination….just not guaranteed….