LIVE: Braves get Michael Bourn, now hope that’s enough

Welcome, Michael Bourn. You're now in a playoff race. (AP photo)

The Braves finally made a catch before the trade deadline: Welcome, Michael Bourn. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 1:45 p.m. Folks, here’s the updated blog on the trade. I’m read to chat live now about the deal and the game. Sorry couldn’t get to earlier questions and comments but I’ve been kinda busy.)

It was the eve of the trade deadline, and Jordan Schafer was having trouble sleeping.

“I just had a weird feeling,” he said Sunday. “It’s something I hadn’t felt all along. I even sent a text message to my agent. I told him I thought I might be traded. He said, ‘No, there’s no chance.’”

And then he opened his phone to show a reporter the text message: “10:57 p.m. ‘Wonder if I’m going to Houston.’”

Sometimes, it’s not so great to be a prophet.

The Braves dealt Schafer to Houston Sunday. They made the move less because of what they believe Schafer might be one day than what he isn’t  now: Michael Bourn. After dealing Schafer and three prospects to Houston for Bourn, the All-Star center fielder and leadoff hitter, Braves general manager Frank Wren said, “Michael is what we hope Jordan will be in three or four years. For a team that’s poised to win, we need a finished product.”

Wren needed the right sound bite. Braves fans have felt antsy, angry, frustrated, discontent and maybe even borderline hopeless after seeing San Francisco (Carlos Beltran) and Philadelphia (Hunter Pence) each spin major deals in recent days. So Wren hit on the right themes. What comes of this deal, we can’t possibly know.

Chipper Jones lauded Bourn’s speed, but when asked if the Braves are better team as a result of the deal, he said: “I don’t know. Talk to me in two months.”

The fact Jones was a big fan of Schafer’s might have fed into his comments. (At one point, he left his locker to walk over to Schafer, who was packing, to give him a hug, and the two spoke privately for a couple of minutes.) But Jones also struck the proper tone. There were some things about this year’s Braves team we projected back in spring training camp that haven’t panned out. So it’s best not to assume anything now.

Still, credit to Wren. He waited until the day of the trading deadline before pushing the button. The trade market had become increasingly difficult and expensive (opponents love desperate buyers). Wren made the best trade he could have possibly made at this point.

Bourn is hitting .303. He leads the majors with 39 stolen bases. He has 28 infield hits. He has won two Gold Gloves. He immediately becomes this team’s best and most established leadoff hitter since Rafael Furcal. So this is no minor acquisition.

“The perfect fit,” Wren called him.

The Braves certainly have World Series potential now. Then again, we thought that they had that in the spring. Championships assume two things: good health and expected production, and the Braves have used their opening day lineup only 11 times.

But consider this potential batting order: Michael Bourne, Martin Prado, Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Alex Gonzalez. If everybody’s clicking, there’s no escape. After all the angst, this may work out yet.

Some of what Wren said Sunday carried a trace of draft day spin. He acknowledged the team “inquired” about Pence and had interest in Beltran. But he also suggested the Braves never really wanted either that much.

“We could’ve had Beltran. … Same with Pence,” he said. “We were involved in everything but we weren’t really into everything.” (I’m assuming the comments would’ve been different had they acquired either.)

Wren got his wish: He held onto the organization’s four projected golden arms in the minors. He closed the deal for Bourn just before 9 a.m., then he phoned Schafer.

“I was backing out my driveway,” Schafer said. “As soon as I looked down at the phone and saw who it was, I knew. It sucks. But it’s a business.”

In a perfect world, Schafer goes on to have a good career, the Braves win a championship and Bourn turns out to be a lot better than the last time the team traded for a Gold Glove, All-Star center fielder who could hit leadoff (Nate McLouth).

We’ve learned not to project. But it certainly looks good.

By Jeff Schultz

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

794 comments Add your comment

Mike Lum

July 31st, 2011
10:26 am

ATN

July 31st, 2011
10:28 am

Good move! I liked Schafer as well but there’s no guarantees that he would turn out to be our future center fielder. Bourne has proven himself-his OBP and speed will be a huge asset to the lineup. Would have loved to have Carlos Quentin but this was the 2nd best scenario at this point.

RRR

July 31st, 2011
10:29 am

It’s a win, win…and NONE of our top guns were lost. Sign him to an extension NOW. Hopefully, for years to come, he haunts the Phils. ;)

MVPrado

July 31st, 2011
10:30 am

BeegBoy25

July 31st, 2011
10:31 am

Jeff,

Very pleased with move; can Julio, Minor, or Vizcaino help us a little in bullpen down the stretch without an addition there??

Ted M

July 31st, 2011
10:32 am

The Braves are gonna get Infante back too which should round out the team pretty good.

dennis felton

July 31st, 2011
10:32 am

James Harley

July 31st, 2011
10:32 am

Alright!!! Now lets go get this thing done!!

josh

July 31st, 2011
10:33 am

Love it! I said to someone just the other day I don’t think we have had a solid CF since Andruw; I love that he’s a leadoff hitter who hits .300+ and leads the lg in steals. Didn’t give up anything major to get him, Schafter is ho hum; kinda glad to get the HGH dude off the roster..

The NEW Atlanta Sports Blog – http://www.atlantainsight.com

dennis felton

July 31st, 2011
10:33 am

can we trade A GONZ now?

Mike Lum

July 31st, 2011
10:33 am

As long as Shafer is in the majors there will be “fans” who second-guess this trade, like they second-guess every trade. What is Bourn’s contract status?

longtime braves fan

July 31st, 2011
10:33 am

Don’t know, does this really address the Braves need to combat left-handed pitching? I don’t think so, we needed a right handed power hitter.

Shaefer Was a LOSER

July 31st, 2011
10:34 am

Jordan Schafer was a do nothing Druggie….he was not worth wasting any more time on to try and cultivate him. Once a Druggie, Always a Druggie – worthless pile of crap. Glad to see him gone and Frank Wren is still an A$$ in my opinion……so make sure you tell Bradley to go ahead an assume the position and start blowing smoke about how wonderful Frank Wren is……..

bob klepak

July 31st, 2011
10:34 am

The art of building a RL team versus as OL or Fantasy team is that statistics are relatively meaningless in real life and everything in fantasy. The “fit” is everything and in point of fact, Bourn, the Braves 1st legitimate lead off man in 3 years and base a true stealer, slick fielder filling a current hole is better an acquizition than Roy Halladay or Albert Pujolz for this team at this time.

Outside Observer

July 31st, 2011
10:34 am

Freeman has been great, Uggla is finally hitting, McCann is coming back, Bourn will be leading off… Between Chipper, Heyward, and Gonzo, if just one of them improves a decent amount the rest of the year, our lineup should have a lot of success when paired with our pitching.

Ted M

July 31st, 2011
10:35 am

he is hitting .284 against lefties

MightyQuinn

July 31st, 2011
10:35 am

Somebody who’s going to get on base regularly and steal some bases in front of McCann, Freeman, Uggla. Left handed bats behind him will have a larger hole to shoot for between first and second with him on first. Routine grounders turn into hits. Sounds good in theory, hope it works in reality.

athensmatt

July 31st, 2011
10:35 am

Great pickup for the Braves! I wonder if Wren is still looking for a RH reliever?

Brian

July 31st, 2011
10:35 am

I like the trade, good job by F Wren.

AJ

July 31st, 2011
10:35 am

Good trade… I think Braves may be waiver wire shoppers come August if Heyward can’t get out of his funk. If Chipper and McCann come back well the braves have one heck of a top 6 with Bourn, Prado, Jones, McCann, Uggla and Freeman. That group is every bit of talented as the Phillies, but Heyward and Gonzalez look lost at the plate right now.

boog

July 31st, 2011
10:36 am

This is huge! Great trade…period. Bourn is a better fit for the Braves than either Beltran or Pence. We haven’t had a lead off threat since Otis Nixon. This guy is perfect and to get him without giving up any of our top four prospects is amazing. To even have one ounce of regret over giving up Schafer is laughable. Have you checked is career minor league stats? Never hit above 250. I never understood all the excitement over a 230 hitting outfielder who had a little speed. Wren…is the Man!

L

July 31st, 2011
10:36 am

Pretty much thrilled with this move. Wish it coulda been a righty, but I’m happy we didn’t have to give up 4 top prospects for a new CF. And bon voyage to Schafer–I did think he was starting to get it together, but I’m glad I don’t have to root for the juicer anymore.

Ted M

July 31st, 2011
10:37 am

Tyler Pastornicky – whats his BA & OBP?

boog

July 31st, 2011
10:37 am

For those worried that Bourn bats left… check his stats. He hits lefties just as well as righties and a whole lot better than Beltran.

Rick

July 31st, 2011
10:37 am

Need an RBI guy and a RH in the OF.

Trade Minor and Lowe, pay half salary, for the OF Quinten from the CWS. Bring up one of the other three studs as a starter. The Braves need offense in the middle of the lineup in a very bad way.

Popeye is still hitting .206. Need one more RH real bad. Send Heyward to Gwinnett.

what of it?

July 31st, 2011
10:38 am

What about the bullpen?

we’re just going to let O’Flaherty, Venters, and Kimbrell pll the dead weight of the remaining corpses in middle relief?

TC

July 31st, 2011
10:38 am

Good move…I was never sold on Schafer…Bourn brings badly needed speed to the lineup. The Braves may still be a big hitter away, maybe they can still pull off something with the Sox for Quinton.

KD

July 31st, 2011
10:38 am

How is this anything but a great deal for the Braves? Exactly the deal we needed and we didn’t give up any top pitching prospects.

Aaron McCready

July 31st, 2011
10:38 am

Have to admit I was originally shocked that Wren would trade away Schafer since the Braves were so high on him coming into the season, but Bourn seems to be a better option at the top of the order. Plus, I think everyone would admit that McLouth isn’t going to get it done. Should have traded him!

Rob

July 31st, 2011
10:39 am

Fantastic move!

James Harley

July 31st, 2011
10:39 am

There is one problem here. He can hit…He can steal…but what about the fact that the Braves strand so many runners in scoring position. I hope that changes.

Brent

July 31st, 2011
10:39 am

I think this is incredible – this completely changes the dynamics of our team. Prado will bat .350 for the rest of the year in the 2 spot (seeing nothing but fastballs). That only changes the pitch selection as well for the 3-5 spots as well. Play “bash brothers” baseball does NOT win championships. Defense, pitching, and small ball does (with a dose of just “getting hot” mixed in).

Now if we could just Jay Hey-Hey to AAA for the month of August to rediscover his swing, make adjustments, and fix the HOLE in his swing, we’ll be incredible for the final stretch run.

DOING TOMAHAWK CHOP!

NickGranite

July 31st, 2011
10:39 am

No, it doesn’t address the right-handed hitter issue but it is certainly an upgrade over the previous left-handed hitter. 39 stolen bases… now maybe when Freeman gets all those base knocks he’ll be able to drive them in instead of getting them to third.

tonyb

July 31st, 2011
10:39 am

Jeff, I agree with your overall assessment of the trade. I am not as big a fan of Shafer as are you, and I think he was miscast as a leadoff man. I will say that I applaud Wren for not giving up one or more of the big four prospects for a quick fix. Those prospects are the future and will have great value in acquiring equal talent. We, as Atlanta sports fans, have seen our share of short sighted moves by GM’s, so it nice that Wren was able to get help now yet keep the future bright.

Now this team has to get and stay healthy., If they can, they have as good a chance as any to win the ring.

Jeff ROCKS!

July 31st, 2011
10:40 am

Yes good trade, but we could still use Infante. Release McClouth, and see what the Marlins need to get it done.

Brent

July 31st, 2011
10:40 am

Braves rumored to be bringing back Infante as a RH bat off the bench. Would love that move as well!

henry from TN

July 31st, 2011
10:41 am

now we need willingham and a good right-handed relief pitcher…now we should lock up bourn in a long time deal

sg10abc

July 31st, 2011
10:41 am

This is HUGE deal.. for a team that may need just a couple of runs to win a ball game, those couple of runs could come from Borne’s speed.. he will steal, disrupt pitching with his speed.. I like this deal better than any other need rumored since it fills our need in CF and bring some speed without giving up future . I still hope we can add another decent reliever (unless we convert one of the top prospects into a reliever) and would love to get Infante back as rumored..

Who Me?

July 31st, 2011
10:41 am

Interesting trade, I’ll give you that. I guess the idea of Bourn finally won out over the realities of obtaining a right handed power stick for the rest of the season. Yes, I will miss Schafer’s potential but at least he’s not in our division after the trade. Now that we have the prototypical leadoff man, we need to continue to work to shore up the bottom of the order with some add’l power. Nate’s not the answer long term. it is nice to look at this and know that we have an answer for the Reyes’s and the McCutcheon’s in the league now….

TJ

July 31st, 2011
10:43 am

Jeff, are they done or could they still use one of the young arms to go get Quentin as well and REALLY solidify the outfield and let Prado stay at 3rd, using Chipper sparingly down the stretch?

Brent

July 31st, 2011
10:44 am

What was it that PT Barnum said? “There’s a sucker born every minute?” I wish we could find “sucker(s)” to take Proctor/Linebrink off our hands and get some reliable right handed relievers (and get Moylan back).

DetroitBraves

July 31st, 2011
10:44 am

Schafer had not only not hit well in the majors, he had a fairly lengthy track record of not hitting in the minors. It is very unlikely he will ever hit enough to hold down a regular job, and with only adequate defense (by most metrics his defense was only “good” when compared to McLouth) he probably isn’t a major leaguer. None of the Braves prospects going to Houston made their preseason top 10 (with only Freeman and Kimbrel graduating off that list).

The Dude Abides

July 31st, 2011
10:45 am

Get Infante and call up Vizcaino, on to the World Series!

willy

July 31st, 2011
10:46 am

finally, a decent cf.

enat

July 31st, 2011
10:47 am

good job Frank, now how abt trading A Gon

Brent

July 31st, 2011
10:48 am

TJ I completely agree with you. This gives us the flexibility to use Minor possibly in a RH hitter deal. I would love to see Chipper on our bench, ready to provide late inning heroics when needed (I love Chipper, but we need him healthy, where he can get on the bench).

I know, I know, Chipper is hitting over .400 with RISP, however, right now he’s hitting .000 with RISP, because he’s not playing due to health issues.

Hit A Single

July 31st, 2011
10:49 am

Great deal! How patient can the Braves be with Heyward this year? He is young and probably was not ready for the majors. He is over matched right now. Way too many ground ball outs for a guy that is not hitting for average. He better start driving the ball.

Big Braves Fan

July 31st, 2011
10:51 am

Great trade! I just hope we can keep him around for awhile. The Braves haven’t had a speedster lead off hitter in quite some time.

Reid Adair

July 31st, 2011
10:51 am

As you mentioned, Jeff, the ideal situation was someone who could drive in runs. However, with a lineup that includes so many players hitting below .240, there aren’t a lot of baserunners to be driven in.

I’d be curious to know what, if anything, Frank Wren did as far as pursuing Carlos Beltran. Don’t ask him, though. He would probably lie (as he’s done in the past) and say the Braves made an offer similar to what the Giants did.

BadIdeaMaybe

July 31st, 2011
10:51 am

Now trade Heyward and Minor and Medlen to Miami for Stanton and Infante.