I’m going to refrain from excessive bashing of Braves general manager Frank Wren — maybe just a few jabs — until we see what (if anything) he does between now and the major league trade deadline.
But I do have one question: How much pitching does one franchise need?
The Braves apparently lost out to San Francisco in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes in part because Wren was not willing to part with a top pitching prospect, like Mike Minor.
It’s common in pro sports for teams to overvalue their own prospects. We know the Braves’ success since the 1990s has been built on pitching. The organization has done a wonderful job developing young arms. But dealing a pitcher for a player (like Beltran) who potentially can put a team over the top seems logical.
Let’s look at the depth chart. The Braves have five solid starters: Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe and Brandon Beachy. Lowe has only one year left on his contract and conceivably may not be here even that long. Hudson is 36 years old. That still leaves three starters potentially for the long term.
The organization also has at least four top pitching prospects. Julio Teheran is the consensus No. 1. The next three, in no particular order: Minor, Randall Delgado and Arodys Vizcaino. While there’s no guarantee all will make it at the major league level, the Braves realistically only would need two of them to fill out a five-man rotation in the future (assuming Hanson, Jurrjens and Beachy are kept and stay healthy).
So why not trade one? It certainly wouldn’t qualify as mortgaging the future.
The Braves need offensive help. Chipper Jones can’t be counted on to get and stay healthy. Brian McCann is out two to three weeks. Others are either banged up, struggling or both. This is not a new problem, the McCann injury just made the situation a little more desperate.
Wren has the assets to trade to make this team better. But the deadline is only four days away, and San Francisco, one of the Braves’ competitors for a National League pennant and a World Series just got better.
By Jeff Schultz