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