Did Falcons just take lead over Braves in title pursuit? (Update: Phillies get Pence)

Mike Smith: Thomas Dimitroff may have just given you the key to a title.

Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff just moved closer to a title.

(UPDATED: 9:15 p.m. with news of Philadelphia trading for Houston outfielder Hunter Pence.)

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff just worked his magic to sign defensive end Ray Edwards.

Frank Wren: You’re on the clock.

This is an important time for both the Falcons and Braves. The NFL is in free agency and major league baseball is bumping up against the trade deadline. This is when championship contenders often

Can Frank Wren get help for the Braves?

Can Frank Wren get help for Fredi Gonzalez and Braves?

are determined.

The Falcons believed they needed to add at least one significant player on defense to compete for a Super Bowl. Edwards should provide that. He gives them a pass rusher from the left side as a complement to John Abraham.

The Braves need to add some offensive power, preferably a right-handed hitting outfielder who can drive in runs. Wren has had talks for several different players, but he hasn’t pushed the button on a deal yet. He balked at letting go of a valued pitching prospect (Mike Minor) for a rental player (Carlos Beltran).

The question now: Are  the Braves willing to do what it would take to land a high-profile player like Houston’s Hunter Pence or the Chicago White Sox’ Carlos Quentin, or do they settle for somebody the next tier down (Ryan Ludwick or Josh Willingham) and hope the rest of the roster gets healthy enough for the stretch drive?

UPDATE: The Braves apparently pushed for Pence but Philadelphia pushed harder and acquired the outfielder from the Astros, according to multiple outlets. Fox Sports baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal first reported Houston will get four prospects in the deal, including two highly coveted ones: first baseman Jonathan Singleton and pitcher Jarred Cosart. So the Braves have now seen their biggest competition in the National League, the Phillies and Giants, both make major moves.

Dimitroff has worked this condensed free agency period brilliantly. Now it’s Wren’s turn.

For what it’s worth, in March I ranked Atlanta’s then-four pro sports general managers, and Dimitroff edged Wren for the top spot. We’ll re-evaluate after the Braves and Falcons complete their seasons.

There is still time before Sunday’s trade deadline for the Braves to make a move. San Francisco, coming off a World Series, already made its move by trading for Beltran. Philadelphia is pursuing several players and some believe may have the inside track on Pence.

We’ll find out soon enough how serious the Braves are about winning a World Series this year.

By Jeff Schultz

Earlier: As Braves talk trade, Ross says ‘We need a piece’

Earlier: Braves would be taking a risk without major move

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

231 comments Add your comment

JSS

July 29th, 2011
2:22 pm

O'Brien

July 29th, 2011
2:23 pm

I think Frank will settle for a small deal (like Ankiel and Farnsworth last year), and then keep his fingers crossed.

If we get a Willingham type player, I will be very disappointed. The Phillies and Giants both won a WS the last 5 years, but yet they appear to be more aggressive than the Braves, who have not even sniffed a WS in years.

RTR

July 29th, 2011
2:23 pm

Julio now Ray Ray- Go get em

DawgFan

July 29th, 2011
2:29 pm

So long as the Phillies are able to spend twice as much as the Braves, it’ll be hard to overtake them, talent-wise. If the Braves are to win this year, they’ll have to do it on sheer willpower.

Bobby Jones

July 29th, 2011
2:29 pm

What’s up Jake?

DHD

July 29th, 2011
2:30 pm

Brilliant article.

brave59

July 29th, 2011
2:30 pm

just get a deal done already trade for upton don’t give up julio. frank wren is going to be fired after this season.

joe

July 29th, 2011
2:31 pm

How did Ankiel and Farnzy work out last season? Time to step up and make a big splash and get Pence here before he signs with the Phils. If that happens, just hand them the WS trophy now…

Fish Bisch

July 29th, 2011
2:32 pm

Uh, yeah!
Falcons have been more successful than the Braves the past 5 + years.

DawgFan

July 29th, 2011
2:35 pm

Fish Bisch -

Just how bad were the Braves in 2007 that the Falcons were better than them then? If I recall, for the Falcons, Mike Vick was in jail, the coach up and quit in mid-season for a college job, and then the team had a terrible record.

Jeff Schultz

July 29th, 2011
2:36 pm

JSS: Where have you been hiding out?

JChikara

July 29th, 2011
2:38 pm

Props to Dimitroff for realizing the Falcons for what they truly were last year: a 10-6 squad masquerading as a 13-3 team. He has kept up with the aggressive mindset of pursuing playmakers instead of projects. More importantly, the culture of the organization is that they expect to win instead of the Braves, who have this “let’s just do enough to pull it out” mentality. That gets coaches fired and GMs looking for work.

Blazerdawg

July 29th, 2011
2:38 pm

Good question to have given our history in Atlanta. TD started with a mess and has improved the team every month that he’s has been with the Falcons. FW has been on a more even, but elevated, plane. It will be interesting to see if FW can pull off the big move before midnight.

lobo

July 29th, 2011
2:39 pm

Wren can get back in race with Pence are bourn…But got to love Falcon getting Big Ray!!1 Maybe the Team owner “Blank” needs to buy the damn Braves.

Joey

July 29th, 2011
2:39 pm

Falcons 1
Braves 0

Your turn, Frankie.

Papadawg

July 29th, 2011
2:39 pm

The ownership of tghe Braves haven’t been serious about winning since the 90’s so why should I think this year would be any different

RJ Voorhees

July 29th, 2011
2:39 pm

@Jeff Schultz, I love your recent articles. Thanks for putting pressure on Frank Wren and the Braves to make something happen. I think it would be good for the Falcons and Braves to compete for the attention of Atlanta fans. Get it up Jeff!

Joey

July 29th, 2011
2:43 pm

I have a question, Jeff.

Do you think there’s a chance that Wren gets maybe Quentin AND one of the next tier guys (Ludwick)?

We have so many hitters under .225, Wren better get a couple.

Rey

July 29th, 2011
2:44 pm

The signing of Edwards to the Falcons couldn’t have come at a worst time for the Braves organization. Especially if they’re planning on settling for a bargain bin player like Ludwig.

Will be interesting to see how this one ends.

Luv 2 Hate Me

July 29th, 2011
2:44 pm

Sorry I’m not sold on Pence, he didn’t look all that good when he played the Braves. We need either Quentin or Upton in the lineup. Yes I will give the Falcons an “A plus” The Braves are on the clock and time is ticking

rduck

July 29th, 2011
2:46 pm

i hate to say it, but i don’t believe that Wren has it in him to make the big splash. he has shown a pattern of trying to play the safe game in trades and is afraid to possibly overpay for a player.i look for him to make a move, but i don’t believe it will be the big move everyone is hoping for. please prove me wrong Wren, please…

freddie

July 29th, 2011
2:49 pm

frankwren has made alot of bad moves look at the japense pitcher what a waste of money he traded alex for esobar bad move he is batting 295 alex 225 is derrick lowe worth 15million a yr no way

bvillebaron

July 29th, 2011
2:50 pm

Help me out here Jeff, which players and/or draft picks did the Falcons trade to sign Edwards? Wasn’t he simply signed as a free agent? Unless I am mistaken, this is an extremely weak attempt to compare apples and oranges.

drew25walk

July 29th, 2011
2:51 pm

What would it take to pry Adam Jones from Baltimore? I say he would be the answer to the Braves problems……and wouldn’t feel bad about giving up a few top pitching prospect to them….

What??

July 29th, 2011
2:51 pm

Why does everyone want Upton so much? And the stros are asking way to much for Pence in my opinion. Quentin is the most intriguing of the lot to me, but I don’t know what we would have to give the sox who are only 3 games out of first.

Jason

July 29th, 2011
2:51 pm

The Braves haven’t been a title contending team in well over 5 years. And a trade of one or two young pitchers for a good but not elite bat is not going to get them there either. The Braves need several more bats in the lineup. On top of that they can’t really depend on Chipper to be healthy through the rest of the year.

I am still of the opinion that if the Braves had traded Chipper approximately 4 years ago, they could have sold high and would now have the bats that they need to put them back in contention.

Dr. Warren

July 29th, 2011
2:55 pm

Falcons still need a start CB. Maybe Cromartie from the Jets. Meantime, why is no one talking about losing Snelling. He was a solid backup with starting talent. The Falcons season hinges on whether Michael Turner shows up in shape, or fat like in 2009.

Jack

July 29th, 2011
2:56 pm

@ DawgFan…. This isnt about money, its about prospects and the Braves are “richer” then Philly. Wren needs to step up and make an “executive” decision on which of the 4 pitching prospects the Braves can do with out and get that RHB. That is whats makes a good GM.

JOYcee Banicheck

July 29th, 2011
2:56 pm

Jeffy are you going to throw out article after article stating Wren needs to make a move? We know already… Quit crying ya baby

DawgFan

July 29th, 2011
2:57 pm

Is it because of the financial situation that the Dodgers aren’t selling? They are 13.5 out as of right now. I can’t believe they would hold on to a palyer like Kemp if the offer were right and it lowered their team payroll. Not saying necessarily for the Braves, just a comment in general.

honest_abe

July 29th, 2011
2:59 pm

Peter

July 29th, 2011
2:59 pm

Probably, since I’m a Dolphins fan.

DawgFan

July 29th, 2011
3:00 pm

@ Jack – I completely agree, but I think the money has something to do with it. The current Braves ownership has set a hard cap for their payroll. It should be noted that the Braves are nothing more than a tax dodge for Liberty Media, who will likely sell the team sometime in the next calendar year. As for the prospects, I think that Teheren is the only one really considered untouchable. If the offer is right, Minor, Viscaino, or Delgado could be on the move.

yellerjacket

July 29th, 2011
3:00 pm

JOYcee, He’s fueling my trade deadline addiction. Don’t kill that.

jimmya

July 29th, 2011
3:00 pm

when did good not going for beltrain now go get hunter pence

Jeff Schultz

July 29th, 2011
3:00 pm

Dr. Warren

July 29th, 2011
3:01 pm

Two Words: SNELLING GONE. Does anyone care?

smyrnabob

July 29th, 2011
3:01 pm

The pitching staff that gets the hottest in October will win the World Series. The Braves still probably need a bat to get there though.

Jeff Schultz

July 29th, 2011
3:01 pm

Thanks RJ — I agreed, It would be great if franchises kept trying to top each other. It would be great for fans.

Papadawg

July 29th, 2011
3:02 pm

Jason we have too many people who think we’ll again see Chipper of 10 years ago.

Interested Observer

July 29th, 2011
3:03 pm

Sorry, but the Falcons aren’t going to the Super Bowl, any more than the Braves are going to the World Series.

But, hey, both teams are competitive, fun to watch and while it’s not likely either will play for a ring, neither is it totally out of the realm of possibility.

Jeff Schultz

July 29th, 2011
3:03 pm

Joey — Both Quentin and Ludwick? Wow, that would be a major roster-reshaping. That would be stunning, given the number of pieces you’d have to give up. Really an “all in” type situation. So I doubt it.

jimmya

July 29th, 2011
3:05 pm

braves need to restock farm system with hitting outfeilders good pitching nice but gotta have hitting to

Jeff Schultz

July 29th, 2011
3:05 pm

bvillebaron — It’s a free agent signing vs. a trade, yes. But it’s still about making moves. Falcons had to trim players and payroll to sign Edwards. Similarly, Braves can trade players to get a player. Both involve risk but both have a potential upside.

M1

July 29th, 2011
3:06 pm

Not much Steel.

Jeff Schultz

July 29th, 2011
3:07 pm

Drew25walk — I’d rather see Adam Jones on the Braves than Adam Jones (Pacman) on the Falcons.

Jack

July 29th, 2011
3:07 pm

@ DawgFan… I hear ya. But now that Beltran (rental) is off the table, its ridiculous to not grab a bat that you can control at least through next year along with the money that will be coming off the books. I understand securing the future, but i think its a huge slap in the face to the fans if Wren stands there with his hands in his pockets..

Joel

July 29th, 2011
3:08 pm

Braves have made 15 playoff appearances since 1991, 5 NL pennants, 1 World Series title. The Falcons resume is a little lacking… Maybe Dimitroff is making the moves now, but the Braves have recent history on their side, discounting 06-09 of course..

PMC

July 29th, 2011
3:09 pm

Yes, yes the Falcons as constituted are closer to a championship than the Braves.

The Braves have rarely run thier club as if they were trying to win a championship. The Braves are more interested in winning the regular season.

Hankie Aron

July 29th, 2011
3:09 pm

Nice piece Count, I think Wren has to reel in Pence or Quentin. Quentin being the lesser of the two and probably cheaper as well.