As Braves talk trade (Pence?), Ross says ‘We need a piece’

Teams like the aggressive Hunter Pence but Phillies may have edge on Braves.

Teams like the aggressive Hunter Pence (sliding) but Phillies may have an edge on Braves.

Good morning. No trades yet.

The pursuit of Houston outfielder Hunter Pence by several teams, including the Braves and Philadelphia, is what’s creating a logjam in the trade market, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. From his latest blog (which requires an Insider subscription).

…  It is clear that right now, [Pence] has the greatest market value of any available player. The Astros’ initial instinct seemed to be to play conservative and hang onto him, but they probably will never again get the kind of offers they’re getting for Pence — the Phillies’ package of pitcher Jarred Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton, or Atlanta’s offer, which presumably includes young pitchers they would not consider trading for Carlos Beltran. For the Braves, the stakes are high, because they already are faced with a postseason in which they may have to face Beltran, and now their most prominent division rival appears to be the front-runner to get Pence.

… [Pence] does not fit the profile of an elite offensive player, with his unorthodox swing and playing style. But he’s a good player greatly respected for how hard he plays, and unlike Beltran — a pure rental — the team that acquires Pence could have him for the next two years and beyond. He’s the type of player the Phillies could use now; he’s the type of player the Braves could use now.

… At some point, the rest of the dominoes behind Pence will fall: Ryan Ludwick, perhaps to Cleveland or Atlanta; Coco Crisp, maybe to the Braves; Carlos Quentin, perhaps if somebody will pay to pry him away from the White Sox, although Kenny Williams wakes up today just three games out in a very, very winnable division.

You know where I stand: general manager Frank Wren would be playing a dangerous game if he did nothing of significance.

I spoke to Braves catcher David Ross after Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Pirates and he did nothing to hide his belief that the Braves need help. The team’s run totals in the last six games are 2-3-1-4-2-2.

From Ross: “I think we all know we need a piece. I don’t think we’re desperate for a piece. But another presence in the lineup would be nice. Especially being as left-handed heavy as we are, a right handed bat [is needed].  [We hear] the rumors. Wren hasn’t actually talked to me. He’s not really blowing up my phone, asking my opinion.”

Chipper Jones acknowledged the team could use another bat but he cautioned against players being distracted by the trade talk.

“I’m confident that we’ll do something,” he said. “What it is? I don’t know. To what magnitude? I don’t know. I’m pretty confident we’ll better our ballclub in the next couple of days. But the guys in here need to worry about the Florida Marlins [the next opponent]. And we’re confident we can win games with what we’ve got. So everybody’s kind of been instructed to stay tunneled in on what our goal is every day and not worry about Frank Wren’s job.”

When asked if he believed the team needs to make a trade, Jones responded, “I’m not going to alienate my current teammates. All teams can probably benefit from an injection of new blood when it’s a quality player. But we don’t have 60-plus wins for nothing. We’re a pretty good ballclub. We do it our way. As long as we pitch, we’re going to win. If we don’t pitch, we’re going to struggle.”

David O’Brien weighed in on the benefits of the Braves dealing for Quentin, but some remain skeptical that Chicago is serious about dealing him.

That’s it for now. We’ll let you know if anything serious develops.

Who would be your first choice for the Braves? Pence, Quentin or somebody else?

By Jeff Schultz

Earlier: Braves would be taking a risk without major move

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

414 comments Add your comment

brian

July 29th, 2011
10:20 am

Hunter Pence, easily. He’s young, hard working, and has great offensive numbers that could help the braves make a late post season run.

CJ

July 29th, 2011
10:22 am

Steve

July 29th, 2011
10:23 am

I’ve got a bad feeling that the Braves are about to overpay for Hunter Pence.

If the Braves are going to give up a top-tier prospect, I hope they can get BJ Upton instead. If they really could have received Carlos Beltran for Mike Minor, I think most (including me) would be disappointed to know that they didn’t pull the trigger on it.

The Braves certainly need a RH bat. But, with the limited options available, I have a sinking feeling that the Astros are about to get a lop-sided return for a solid player who is no where near a superstar.

Martin

July 29th, 2011
10:23 am

Pence, you better go get him Wren!!

CJ

July 29th, 2011
10:24 am

Ah, this sin of reading the article…I’d like to see Pence in a Braves uniform, but if we’re competing against the Phillies it probably won’t happen. Carlos Quentin would be a tremendous alternative.

Martin

July 29th, 2011
10:25 am

I believe upton is hitting .230, hence sir pence is better

Martin

July 29th, 2011
10:25 am

I believe upton is hitting .230, hence sir pence is better

TG

July 29th, 2011
10:27 am

I’d love to see Pence but his price tag is probably too high but would keep him out of Philly. Quentin makes sense as well but I think we can all agree that almost any move has to be a plus. You watch every night thinking someone is going to come up with a big hit and it seems to never happen, especially in the clutch (omitting Ross and McCann). Every OF the Braves have right now is struggling.. make a move Wren, make a move.

Brave in NJ

July 29th, 2011
10:27 am

It seems as if the asking price for Pence is three prospects. FW would not part with one of these prospects for Beltran. This may seem a bit out there, but knowing the financial situation the Dodgers are in and how much of a need a right handed hitting OF (specifically CF) is needed, why not spend the three prospects on Matt Kemp? To me, Kemp at 26 years of age for three prospects is much better than Pence, 28 for three prospects.

BravesCan'tHitaBarn

July 29th, 2011
10:28 am

Just getting someone (or two) in here who can help our team .237 batting average would be nice. I mean, If I’m gonna pay $200 for my family to see a game, seeing a hit or two is always good. Otherwise this is BORING!

BravesCan'tHitaBarn

July 29th, 2011
10:28 am

Just getting someone (or two) in here who can help our team .237 batting average would be nice. I mean, If I’m gonna pay $200 for my family to see a game, seeing a hit or two is always good. Otherwise this is BORING!

Buzziswiser

July 29th, 2011
10:29 am

What happened to the interest in Francour? Know it would be tough for the Braves to make that deal, but thought Philly was a possiblity.

Kyle

July 29th, 2011
10:29 am

Pence for sure.

PMC

July 29th, 2011
10:30 am

Worse, what if the Phillies get Pence?

Hillbilly D

July 29th, 2011
10:30 am

If Houston does pull the trigger and trade Hunter Pence, whoever gets him is going to pay through the nose.

PMC

July 29th, 2011
10:32 am

Chipper is right they do have 60 wins and they’ve done it, with basically half a ball club. All pitching no hitting.

And when those 3 arms in the bullpen with darn near 60 appearances start getting tired, those late game holds will go down the drain.

Willy

July 29th, 2011
10:32 am

I’d love to see the Braves get Pence and Ludwick – Chipper won’t be around beyond next year, then Prado takes 3rd base and Ludwick stays in left (Schafer goes to the Astros presumably along with a few big arms). Easy breezy, bring on the debt ceiling.

JV

July 29th, 2011
10:32 am

Pence is the best available option IMO, but I fear we will overpay for him. Upton just has not developed, Quentin was on fire earlier in the year, but I’m not sure how consistent he is. Honestly, if he is available, I would prefer Bourn (he solves the CF/leadoff problem, and then maybe get a lesser right handed OF, maybe Willingham, for platoon/depth purposes – assuming you don’t have to give up a top prospect for Willingham.

Moxie

July 29th, 2011
10:33 am

IMO, the price for Pence is too steep for comfort.He would help a lot with this ragtag bunch. But I prefer Quentin slightly more. I feel like he fills a need more than Pence would. Go Braves!

Joey

July 29th, 2011
10:33 am

I think we need Quentin and another piece.

BravesCan'tHitaBarn

July 29th, 2011
10:33 am

Ugly will hit like he has in the past for the rest of the year. It’s like adding a new bat. Get rid of Proctor and Sherrill. Let Heyward pitch from the bullpen. Can’t do much worse for the team than he is at the plate. Any hey, put McOut on P-90X. He looks frail up there popping out to the catch and first base. What happened to that guy? All the sudden he’s got an arm like a 10 year old little leaguer with that bloop throw in from the outfield. And whilest I’m at it, RUN FREDDIE RUN! If you have a decent speed guy on first with 1 or no outs, run! Don’t wait for this team to hit him home. You’re going to need to steal a run! Oh and finally, Parrish needs to perish. Get rid of him. Buck stops there. Ask Heyward if he’ll be hitting coach. Kidding of course but a fresh approach will help – can’t hurt this awful hitting team. No team chases pitches out of the zone better than ATL.

STRETCH

July 29th, 2011
10:34 am

Chipper:

We’re a pretty good ballclub. We do it our way. As long as we pitch, we’re going to win. If we don’t pitch, we’re going to struggle.”

Well that tells me all i need to know. They are depending on the pitching to bail them out.

AnotherGM

July 29th, 2011
10:36 am

No matter what half-time player Chipper says the Braves simply do not have the tools to compete with Philly or win a world series. If Chipper was at his prime it would not be as pressing. Heyworth is simply young and has some maturing to do. A big bat in the middle of the lineup would help McCann, Freeman, and Uggla. The Braves have had the great pitching staffs in the past and have a pretty darn good one now, but the hitting has killed them in the playoffs and has just netted them 1 world series title. To get talent you have to give up talent. If Wren was unwilling to give up Minor for Beltran for the rest of the season he made a major mistake. In addition they dont need a aging lower tier Willinghan or Ludwick, that solves nothing but a Pence or Quentin would make the Braves legitimate contenders.

JV

July 29th, 2011
10:36 am

Willy – You and I are thinking along the same lines, but Pence and Ludwick are both corner outfielders. How many of those do we need? If we get Pence the price will be steep enough, that we will be done. Ludwick or Willingham along with Bourn would be perfect. However, I would be shocked if Wren trades for 2 bats.

BravesCan'tHitaBarn

July 29th, 2011
10:38 am

We need Oswalt to have a set back. You get the Phillies top 3 pitchers healthy, they should win the whole thing no matter what bat the Braves add. The Braves have nice pitching but they don’t intimidate in the post season like the Phillies do.

jerry sams

July 29th, 2011
10:38 am

Frank I hope will run to the phone get Hunter Pence so we can satisfy the players and the fans to win now, we have something to give without giving up the farm.

Joey

July 29th, 2011
10:38 am

I wish the Phillies would get Frenchy. It would be nice to see him flail at the outside pitches and actually feel excited about it.

heartofdarkness

July 29th, 2011
10:39 am

Let me handicap this deal for you. Does Pence or Quentin come with any tax shelter components? If not, keep looking.

j

July 29th, 2011
10:39 am

BJ Upton. Average not there yet but has speed and power

Kyle

July 29th, 2011
10:39 am

Quentin + a White Sox Bullpen guy for one of the big 4 + 2 A ball players

ATLOMG

July 29th, 2011
10:39 am

Barn dude is dead on. I think that’s Freddie Gonzalez incognito!

ATLOMG

July 29th, 2011
10:41 am

Trade Heyward, McOut, Proctor, Sherrill, Schaefer and the AAA starting line up for Pence. I’m down wit dat

heartofdarkness

July 29th, 2011
10:42 am

Sorry, listening to the President while typing. Correction: “Do Pence or Quentin come…”

ATLOMG

July 29th, 2011
10:43 am

Compare Heyward’s bat speed to Freedie Freeman’s. Heyward is just a bit quicker than McOuts. Something is bad wrong with the Say Pop Out kid.

heartofdarknessISaDumbScreenname

July 29th, 2011
10:44 am

Who listens to that dumb $%@ president? That’s the whole problem!

Furman Bitcher

July 29th, 2011
10:44 am

Here is the bottom line folks. The Phillies are getting old and they are going all in to win now. That means they will bleed out there remaining top chips in the minors to get this done. The Braves will not do that.

Ken Shelton

July 29th, 2011
10:45 am

So relieved the Braves didn’t pull the trigger on the Beltran trade, as people seem to forget past top prospects like Adam Wainwright, a guy named Elvis, who “left the building”) of the Braves, who now are top flight players and the Braves had a brief affair with what they got in return. True, The Braves are rich in pitching right, now but fact is two of the Bravos top starting hurlers will only be with the team two more years, as both Hanson and JJ are Scott Boras clients and most would have to believe the Braves don’t have a snowballs chance in your know where to keep them long-term! Like most everyone, it’s obvious Frank Wren needs to pull off some type trade, but past acts of desperation have come back to bite the ‘powers-that be’ of the Braves countless times, with giving up too much of the farm for a quick fix! I think the team needs a prove bench player who bats righty, who has some pop, and another arm in the bullpen,and hope and pray Uggla and Heyward returns to the form of their past, which could help carry any team to the glory-land of a ton of wins!

Roland's Office, Hunter's Pence

July 29th, 2011
10:46 am

It seems like we could be facing the decision to fit a square peg into a round hole. The ideal fit is a center fielder who can consistently hit lefties and who has a strong on-base percentage. But, the best players that might be available (Pence, Quentin) are corner outfielders. Pence has played 95 games in CF for the Astros, back in his rookie year — so, while he could do it, it’s unlikely that he would field as well as Schafer or McLouth. As long as Chipper is able to play, Prado is set in LF, so that’s not going to be where we need someone. Without Chipper, Pence or Quentin are better fits. IF the plan is to bench Heyward, Pence or Quentin would be great. IF the plan is to try Heyward in CF, that may or may not work out OK defensively. Plus, one of our biggest lineup problems is Heyward hitting .167 vs. lefties. He hits lefties worse than McLouth or Schafer!!

Unfortunately, the available pure CF prospects are not thrilling. Coco Crisp would be OK. Michael Bourn would be great, but might not be available at a reasonable price. (Bourn is ideal because he is hitting .284 vs. L and .311 vs. R, with 38 steals). BJ Upton is hitting .224 vs. lefties, .228 vs. righties, so his only upgrade over our current CFs is his occasional power/RBI production. But, he’s inconsistent and people question his maturity. Marlon Byrd is batting .230 vs. lefties.

To platoon with Heyward, boring additions would be Josh Willingham or Ryan Ludwick. But, Willingham is batting .216 vs. lefties, which is not as bad as Heyward, but is pathetic, nonetheless. Ludwick is batting .264 vs. lefties, so he might be a platoon option, but not an everyday outfielder.

Michael Cuddyer would be a great addition due to his hitting ability and ability to play numerous positions. He even pitched in relief earlier this week. Getting Crisp AND a guy like Ludwick to platoon would improve what we currently have, but it’s not very exciting….. MAYBE, something else could be brewing under the surface — a better fit??!?????

Dave

July 29th, 2011
10:46 am

Pence. Ludwick is hitting in the .230s and striking out a an Alex Gonzalez-like rate. We don’t need another flailer up there. We need at least one guy who can bring a runner home. Willingham might be worth a shot if the price tag isn’t too high in hopes of him returning to his NL form. If all we can get is Ludwick or Frenchy it’s not worth bothering.

The Bream Team

July 29th, 2011
10:46 am

I think we must consider that Pence and Quentin both play in hitter’s ballpark. Turner Field is a pitcher’s ballpark.

BringBackBobbyCox

July 29th, 2011
10:46 am

Burning up my TIVO scanning ahead looking for Braves socring a run.

BringBackBobbyCox

July 29th, 2011
10:47 am

No more Clancy novels Roland Office. This is a blog not a kindle

ss0110

July 29th, 2011
10:48 am

I like Quentin or Upton more than Pence. I think that a change of scenery could greatly motivate Upton and Quentin is very solid at the plate. Go get one of em!

ATLOMG

July 29th, 2011
10:48 am

Spot on Bobby! You tell ol’ Roland!

RLS

July 29th, 2011
10:49 am

Bourn makes much more sense than Pence.Bourn is a gold-glove CF with elite speed and signed through 2012.With MLB cleaning up PED’s spped is becoming a more important asset than marginal power which is all Pence has…and Bourn fills alot of needs:leadoff man,great defense,steal a run,etc.What we need is RUNS,it doesnt matter how we get them and we will get more of them from Bourn and better defense at a lower price to be paid(by the way,Bourn has the same number of 2B’s as Pence-the only category Pence is better than Bourn is HR’s,but only 11,and SLG%

Dawg A

July 29th, 2011
10:49 am

Easy decision…. Pence! He will bring a lot of energy and excitement that the offense is lacking. And he would be locked up for two years and would not be a rental thus making the loss of young talent much more acceptable! I love the way Pence plays….. maybe the others might catch the fever!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 29th, 2011
10:49 am

If you go get a CF go get Upton. His home/road splits favor him benefitting a change of scenary.

If you get Pence play him in RF. Put Heyward in CF and bat him leadoff. Joe Madden batted Longoria leadoff earlier this year to change it up. Think outside the box Braves. Let Heyward just play ball. Centerfielder and leadoff hitter….Jason Heyward. Has a nice ring to it.

Furman Bitcher

July 29th, 2011
10:50 am

Hey barn dude. Braves and Phils season series is all tied up at 6 a piece so they are not intimidated.

18yearoldHotBlondChick

July 29th, 2011
10:50 am

I’m all like, who cares huh? I mean, seriously? I know, right? Really? Oh and by the way, Braves need to watch their tail. The are slipping in the Wildcard folks! What happens if they trade for one of these “hotshots” and finish 3 games behind in the WC race? Like, know what I mean?

The Bourn Identity

July 29th, 2011
10:51 am

I can’t understand why Michael Bourn isn’t being more strongly considered, simply because he bats left-handed. Our current center field options are also lefties, so it’s not like we’d be getting MORE left handed…just substituting one who can’t hit with one who can. You can’t be sure what you’ll get from Schafer after he comes off the DL, and (at best) inconsistency from McLouth seem to make this a no-brainer.

This is a guy hitting .307 with a .367 OBP, and 39 stolen bases, far and away the most in the majors. I know he’s left handed, but when you hit lefties at a .295 clip, as Bourn does, why does it matter from which side of the plate you bat? With this guy leading off and stealing bases, many of those lazy fly balls and inning-ending double plays would turn into sacrifice flies and RBI groundouts. Oh, one more thing…he’s under club control next year as well, and I can’t imagine he’d cost nearly as much (in prospects or dollars) as Hunter Pence or Carlos Quentin would, and he’s a considerably better player than Ryan Ludwick, BJ Upton, or Josh Willingham. Bourn is the guy