About McLouth: Yeah, the Braves gave up a lot, but …

Three prospects for a guy hitting .265 on a lousy team: Is this Teixeira redux?

Answer: No.

The Braves sent Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke to Pittsburgh for Nate McLouth, who’s a good player but no Carlos Beltran. Do I have reservations about the move? Yes. But do I think the deal would have been better left undone? No, and here’s why:

To make anything of this season, the Braves had to have a bat and had to have a center fielder. There was no other way. Jordan Schafer couldn’t do it, and Gregor Blanco wouldn’t have done it. McLouth is, to quote Frank Wren, “a solid part of a team,” and for the Braves a solid center fielder is a massive upgrade.

When a team deals from desperation — and the Braves were close to that — it always overpays. But give Wren credit: He didn’t overpay on another two-month man. (Or an 11-month guy, as was the case with John Schuerholz’s deal for Mark Teixeira.) “This isn’t to rent a guy for a year,” Wren said. “He’s under contract for four years. [The final season, 2012, is an option year.] That makes all the difference.”

The trade for Nate McLouth was:

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And it does. The Braves filled their greatest positional need and should have no cause to re-fill it anytime soon. Schafer could be properly seasoned in a year or so, and the Braves could select the Cartersville center fielder Donavan Tate in next week’s draft. Or they could take pitcher Zack Wheeler of East Paulding to help offset the losses of Morton and Locke.

Even if all three of the players the Braves shipped to Pittsburgh become All-Stars, you cannot play the 2010 or 2011 seasons until the calendar decrees. The Braves must get through 2009, and McLouth affords them that opportunity.

Wren: “We knew we were lacking some element. We didn’t want the season to get too far gone.”

And that’s the best part of this: The Braves found their center fielder on June 3, not July 31st. They’ve got time to catch the Phillies and the Mets, and they now might have enough of an everyday lineup.

The Teixeira trade underscored the peril of swapping young for old, but this is a more considered risk. Nate McLouth won’t be saying goodbye just as he’s saying hello. He’ll be here awhile.

251 comments Add your comment

Ernest

June 4th, 2009
7:14 am

Mark, I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again today. You are on a ROLL with these blogs! Thanks again for providing this type of forum.

Of course this was a good move for the Braves. A good, young centerfielder with SPEED (I mentioned that on the Schafer blog that was an element the team was missing). McLouth has a reasonable contract and could probably move to one of the corner positions if/when the team believes JS is ready for the bigs again. I still believe the team needs a right handed bat with some power (still hoping Frenchy can be that guy) to bring some balance to the lineup. I like the moves made in the past 24 hours.

At the end of the day, this is a business with a goal of getting to the playoffs and winning the World Series. I have to trust the judgment of ‘baseball people’ when they said they did not believe Tommy G. could be effective getting out big league hitters. At this time of the season, we cannot afford to be sentimental as each game is important. In September, if our playoff status is already determined and he has not signed with anyone, I could see giving him a shot to pitch his last game in a Braves uniform. At this time, we have to move on and do our best to be in the playoff hunt.

LivininAL

June 4th, 2009
7:44 am

This filled a obvious need for the Barves. Schafer was given every opportunity to be the CF, he just was not ready.

ET

June 4th, 2009
7:47 am

We sure do like to trade our prospects. I guess once you go down that road there is no turning back. If we still had those prospects from the Teixeira trade, and other less than steller deals, then we would’t be dealing now. Keeping prospects and playing them still is the way to build a championship team, unless you have unlimited resources like the Yankees. This trade will cause another trade to be made down the line, I can guarantee it. It always does. When do you stop the process and make the commitment to your own farm system instead of always trading for those missing pieces? When you are the Braves it is never. I could build a winning team with the ex-Braves that are now making it big for other teams. It really is a waste of a good farm system.

Oh well…Go Braves. This move is the one that will bring that playoff team back to Atlanta. Isn’t that how we are supposed to react every time we do a 3 for 1 trade and watch our top prospects go away? I’m starting to tire of this. It always turns out the same way. We don’t get to the playoffs and we wish we had the prospects back. One injury to a key player like Chipper will put us deeper in the hole we dig every time we trade away another guy. Ok, now I’m just repeating myself…

Cup of Craiggers

June 4th, 2009
7:47 am

I am just smiling about the idea that Francoeur will probably be hitting 8th now.

Kissell

June 4th, 2009
7:48 am

You think a guy could pitch like Van Lingo Mungo NOW?? They got BUMS now!!

UGASlobberknocker

June 4th, 2009
7:48 am

First of all, Ernest is right, Mark, I thought you were the best writer at the ajc in the 80s and early 90s..then you lost me a bit..but with this blog page you are back !! Plus you dont take all of us idiots too seriously in your responses which makes it even better..Keep up the great work.

Re; McLlouth..Great trade..Morton is a plodder; the other two are will be easily replaced..McLouth is a flat out player ,

Lets say Glavine doesnt pitch again..assuming a first ballot HOF vote, would he be in the same class as Maddux? Same question about Smoltz if he doesnt come back..wouldnt it be great if all 3 went in the same year?.

Outside Robber

June 4th, 2009
7:50 am

The guys the Braves gave up might, I say MIGHT, turn into good MLB players but if you’re playing for the now, and have a glaring weakness, there could be no better time to get a guy like McLouth who should immediately change the dynamic on this team and in a good way.

I think the Braves and Wren should be given credit for making the bold move AND without giving up any of the 24K prospects like Heyward or Hanson in getting the deal done. McLouth will give the Braves many things they haven’t had in recent years and could be the catalyst to get this team to fully believe in themselves. If that happens, what’s the value of this acquisition then?

louisville slugger

June 4th, 2009
7:51 am

Mark, I agree. Having McLouth for the long term will help a lot; I predict he’ll move to LF to replace Anderson next year when Schafer is truly ready to handle MLB pitching. There are still plenty of prospects in the organization. When do you think we will see Heyward and Freeman in the ATL?

Ron

June 4th, 2009
7:54 am

ET, you are dead on. This team has been trading it’s prospects for the last 10 years in a vain attempt to win Bobby one more title without spending any big money. It’s ownerships way of obtaining rent-a-stars who they know they won’t retain.

dap01

June 4th, 2009
7:56 am

Where will he bat in the lineup?

Great Blog MB.

Romulus

June 4th, 2009
8:00 am

The team fought back and loaded the bases against a tought pitcher last night. One out. Frenchy comes to the plate. Imagine how it must frustrate the players who scrap and fight to give themselves a chance, only to see Frenchy revert to his old, undisciplined, uncontrolled at-bat. No selectivity. No discipline. No smarts. Frenchy struck out on pitches that did not flirt with the strike zone. Rally ended. Teammates disillusioned. Let down not just by Frenchy, but by Bobby Cox. If Cox and Pendleton cannot curb this “aggressiveness” (read stupidity) then let someone else bat who might put the ball in play. What a time to have let Chipper pinch-hit – but no. Instead Frenchy kills yet another rally. Chipper pinch hits later and ties the game rather than wins it. Blame Bobby Cox. I do. If he has no control over how his players will approach an at-bat in a crucial situation then his usefullness has passed. Sad that the team and the fans suffer for Frenchy’s immaturity and lack of discipline. Contact might have won the game – but there was no contact. It was one of the poorest at-bats of the year – and Frenchy has a highlight reel of them. If Frank Wren wants to make it possible for this team to win (and it appears he does) he must solve the hole in the lineup when Frenchy comes to bat.

[...] Mark Bradley | ajc.com – [...]

Romulus

June 4th, 2009
8:01 am

Two outs. Meant to say two outs.

Max Sizemore

June 4th, 2009
8:03 am

Even if McLouth plays well and Hanson pitches to his great potential, the Braves are still not good enough to compete with the Mets and Phillies.

Mike S

June 4th, 2009
8:12 am

IT will be interesting to see where the Braves put McClouth in the lineup. It has been obvious Kelly Johnson is not comfortable hitting lead off, but do the Braves dare put what is now thier Power bat in the Leadoff position to take advantage of his speed, or do they leave KJ there and insert McClouth in the 4 hole or 5 hole.

I would expect one of the following:
KJ, Esco, Chipper, McCann, McClouth, Anderson, Frenchy, Kotchman
or
McClouth, Esco, Chipper, McCann, Anderson, Francouer, Kotchman, KJ

Cosmos

June 4th, 2009
8:12 am

The Braves had to do something because Schafer was lost in the majors. The organization has plenty of pitching and could afford to let Morton and Locke go but I hate to deal away Gorkys Hernandez. In McLouth we got some power but his batting average is only a little higher than Francoeur’s. I don’t see Frenchy coming around any time soon so that’s another problem area for the braves lack of offense.

Billy

June 4th, 2009
8:16 am

Personally, I think this trade will lean closer to Fred McGriff than Mark Teixiera.

Just me

June 4th, 2009
8:16 am

Prospects are just that–prospects. They might make it in the big league or they might not. The Braves are in need of a player that can, and that’s what they got. Good move!
This just might not be the last move the Braves make.

What's with all the Trading the Future Sentiment?

June 4th, 2009
8:22 am

I hear a lot of people complaining that we traded too many prospects, but if you look at what we gave up, those arguments don’t hold up on this trade. Prospects don’t always pan out, and some of these prospects may be two to three years away from hitting the bigs. When they do, there isn’t a guarantee that they are going to hit .265 28 homers and steal 25 bases. McLouth has shown that he can do that in the Bigs! Furthermore, Atlanta was stacked with pitching. So really, we gave up a potential All-Star for a guy who was an All-Star last year, and threw in a pitcher that was expendable and had been given plenty of chances to make it in the bigs, but hadn’t and threw in another prospect that I have never heard of.

For those who complain about the Tex trade, Salty was exciting, but was he ever going to play in front of McCann? What are the other players doing that we traded for Tex? They aren’t stars! The only regret with Tex, is that Atlanta should have signed him to a fat contract, we ware not a small market team, and if we still had Tex’s bat, wouldn’t our last missing component be solved in a big way?

Skeeterleg

June 4th, 2009
8:23 am

Max – I like the way your post is backed by fact and well thought out points.

oldeguy

June 4th, 2009
8:29 am

A great trade for the Braves. They went from an automatic out to an all-star in center field. They are still not a playoff team but this is a huge step in the right direction. Now they have to do something about right field.

DHD

June 4th, 2009
8:32 am

He will lead off when Chipper is in the lineup. He will hit third when Chipper is not in the lineup. The whole power guy not hitting leadoff is crazy anyway. How many times doe the leadoff hitter actually lead off? It’s great to have a power hitter coming up soon after you go through your lineup. It certainly works well for Soriano. I love this deal. It’s funny to hear people talk about giving up too much or a 27 year old All-Star, signed through 2012. These are the same people who want to trade Prado for Holliday. You have to give up quality to get quality.

Did you know that Nate McLouth led all of baseball with 46 doubles last year?

FJR

June 4th, 2009
8:33 am

People, really, quit talking like McClouth is a rent a player. We have him under team control through the 2012 season. Do you realize that makes him, of all the players in our OF right now, the one under team control the longest? Do you realize McLouth is on pace to have a near 30/30 season? Do you realize that McLouth won a gold glove last year and was an all-star? Do you realize we traded a guy struggling in A ball, a “speedster” who has around a 50% success rate and a guy who has been given opportunities multiple times int eh majors and couldn’t make it?

Yes, Gorkys could learn how to steal bases, Morton could pull it all together and Locke could figure out how to get A ball hitters out. But in that time frame McLouth is MUCH MUCH more likely to make 3 all-star games for us. Add that to the fact that McLouth is currently under-paid for the next couple of years, and has what would be about a market contract in 2012, if we decide to pick up the option. Also, as many have stated, if and when Schafer is ready, McLouth easily slides over to LF and we have three gold glove caliber outfielders (well, that’s assuming Frenchy is still here). McLouth easily has the bat to justify being a LF.

Baracked the Vote!

June 4th, 2009
8:34 am

this guy looks like he fits the braves mold to a T. another guy that hits below .300 and strikes out nearly 100 times a year. Also, this guy appears to be an all-star only because every team has to have one. This team isn’t put together to win this year or next.
here is what Cliff Corcoran on si.com., web site has to say about the trade.
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/cliff_corcoran/06/03/bucs.braves.trade/index.html

David

June 4th, 2009
8:34 am

I love the trade Mark, McLouth is on my fantasy baseball team. My only concern is where they bat him because he is fast and Bobby never steals bases or moves runners over.

Last night he had one man on and no outs and Garret up and he doesn’t bunt him. Cox is a great manager but I disagree with his approach to winning games. You go for broke and bunt him over and have two shots to get the man in. If you would bunt him over in game 7 of the World Series which I guarantee you he would, then you should’ve done it last night.

I just hope he uses McLouth’s speed.

Frenchy may come around.

June 4th, 2009
8:34 am

I can’t believe all the hate for Francoeur, he’s not doing great, but his average is above .250 right now, and he did have a game winning home run the other night. Perhaps he will come around a little more, enough to at least be packaged for someone with some value!

What if just before July 31 we can find a team in the cellar that would be willing to take a Frenchy batting .265 and on track to hit 18 home runs and a minor league prospect for a solid bat in the outfield? Especially if it was a player with a big contract that expired in a year or two. Now that wouldn ‘t be a bad rental!

Oh, but wait, someone will complain if we trade a AA prospect and Frenchy for a rental!

FJR

June 4th, 2009
8:36 am

McClouth’s BA may not be way higher than Francouer’s, but McClouth’s OBP is over 100 points higher as is his slug pct.

If you had 8 McClouth’s in your lineup, you’d be the highest scoring team in baseball, bank on that.

giftedsoldier

June 4th, 2009
8:37 am

The Brave once again stuck it to the Pirates. This is highway robbery for the Braves. Nate will be a great addition for the Brave. Once again the Pirates show they have no clue how to build a winning team.

Brave fans I hope you enjoy Nate because hes a class act and a great player.

I still cant believe the Brave got over on the Pirate AGAIN…..can you say Francisco Cabrera!!!!

SavBird

June 4th, 2009
8:39 am

The Braves stole Mclouth! Great deal! Good move. Good job Wren! Just a reminder of how awful the Tex deal was. As a lifetime Brave fan I could not be happier…well maybe if that rumored Frenchy for Greinke deal had gone through last winter-but other than that.

owl hunter

June 4th, 2009
8:43 am

ET

I’m interested to see your former Brave All-Star squad. The guys in the Tex trade, while numerous, have done zero yet. Wainright is the only guy I can think of who is making a true impact on another team right now. We’re not exactly the Yankees when it comes to dealing our minor league talent.

Morton and Gorky are good, but both were blocked, so we essentially traded Locke (who I’m skeptical about) for McClouth who is under our control until 2011 and possibly longer. As for the farm system, we still have plenty of fututre impact players amd we din’t have to give up a guy like Hanson. Our roster has plenty of guys we developed. McCann, Chipper, Escobar, Frenchy (I know…), Johnson, Medlen, Hanson, Etc. FW has given us a chance to win now, and trading guys like Morton will not doom the team for the future. You have to give to get.

siskel_god

June 4th, 2009
8:47 am

The Braves had a glut of outfielders in the minors and none could make it with the big club, Shafer, B. Jones, Hernandez, Heyward, Cody Johnson, Blanco now we have a legitimate allstar centerfielder so of course it’s a good move. I think Locke was still in A ball? You can easily draft a pitcher out of college with the ninth pick and he would be ahead of him. Morton was a basket case (ala Kyle Davies, JoJo Reyes) and Hernandez is a great talent but we have a guy now who is 26 and gonna hold on to that job for a while in center. GREAT! move by the Braves still think we need 1 more bat maybe an upgrade at first or right but I really think we would be crazy to move Francoeur anywhere unless it was too Gwinnett. If we could somehow pry Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego we would be legitimate World Series contenders, not just a possible wild card team.

Supes

June 4th, 2009
8:51 am

Mark,

Thank you for the blog. I agree with your points.

First, I voted a “win for both teams” b/c that’s how I view it.

Pirates have Andrew McClutchins(sp) who they like as their future OF (they were dealing from a position of strength). Braves had a tremendous need at CF, and have depth in the pitching. We didn’t give up Medlen, Hanson, Heyward, Freeman or Johnson.

We did give up Gorkys Hernadez who may very well turn into a good solid lead off type hitter in the majors SOMEDAY, but he is at least 2 years away.

Jeff Locke is 2-3 years away, he didn’t have enough in the minor leagues to make a full on judgement.

Charlie Morton is the CENTER piece of this deal. (as far as players who the PIRATES can play right away and say here is piece 1 of 3) He has 4 quality pitches and is a solid starting pitching prospect. He showed us that he wasn’t mentally prepared last year to handle pressure of SP in the big leagues. I believe he will be a solid 3-4 starter who can be a 10+ game winner at the big league level eventually.

On the other hand…Nate McClouth is someone who I suggested the Braves go out and trade for on the DOB blogs (the other player I wanted was Adam Jones). So I’m very happy with Nate McClouth being an Atlanta Brave. He is a 5 tool CF, exciting player. Check out the numbers he put up with the Pirates. He had NO PROTECTION in that lineup. Who? Ryan Domunt? Adam LaRoche? Freddy Sanchez is the only player who is a respected hitter in that lineup. (other than McClouth).

Braves are also 2 years away from our future Corner Outfielders coming up…Johnson and Heyward. They’ll do nicely in 2011 at LF and RF respectfully. By then McClouth should be in the prime of his career still in CF.

Plus this allows Schafer to have a full year in the minor leagues at AAA level to get his confidence back and work on his swing without pressure to get up here to the big leagues as soon as possible.

This also allows the Braves to TRADE Jeff F. in the off-season (if he fails to have the type of year the team expects and NEEDS out of Jeff). They could bring in Schafer (in his place)

So great trade, I think for both teams and welcome to ATLANTA ALL STAR CF Nate McClouth!

I hope the fans at the TED give him a standing O his first at bat.

PS…BTW how wretched are the Braves offensively…Nate will be the HR and SB leader when he officially puts on that Braves uni!

puckylin

June 4th, 2009
8:52 am

Great trade! I am excited about the team again. McClouth will only be better in the Braves lineup. If you are a Braves fan then you have to be happy that management is working to improve the team. I know I will be in the stands to watch Hanson on Saturday. On Glavine, Karma is a good thing – what goes around comes around. Who can possibly feel bad for him.

Knuckle Sandwich

June 4th, 2009
8:52 am

ET…would you rather us trade our best player for three prospects like the Pirates just did? When you do that, it means you are selling. I would rather be a buyer any day. Nothing the Braves did yesterday should be viewed as a negative. I am a self admitted Frank Wren “hater”, but he made this team a whole lot better yesterday, with every move he made.

JJ

June 4th, 2009
8:54 am

Gave up a lot? Are you kidding me? They gave up a promising 21-year old OF who MIGHT end up being as good as the player they got in return, a single A pitcher no one has ever heard of, and a AAA pitcher that didn’t have a spot on our lineup in the next 3 or 4 years. And they got back an All-Star CF that filled an obvious void in our lineup. The Braves robbed the Pirates.

You think they gave up a lot? Everyone else around baseball is talking about how the Braves got a steal, and you think they gave up a lot? Wow….

siskel_god

June 4th, 2009
8:55 am

Wilson Betemit was DFA’d today by the White Sox, he has to be an upgrade over Diory at this point, what would it take to get him?

WorldChamps

June 4th, 2009
8:55 am

YAWN….this just means they’ll finish 7 games out instead of 10.

Obama hates Cheney's bald head the most

June 4th, 2009
8:55 am

NICE pandering for Wren MB you moron; we are supposed to feel good because we upgraded from absolute bonehead moves to just stupid moves? and he’s hitting 250, WOW that’s a big improvement…STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID

maybe we can trade Hanson for Barry Bonds next and then sit on a bicycle with no seat..SOUNDS LIKE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mesmo

June 4th, 2009
8:56 am

Anyone else notice that the Teas Rangers have a surplus center fielder who appears to be a real power hitter although somewhat overweight at present? Oh yeah, he comes cheap. Could be on the waver wire here before long.

Big McLouth Fan

June 4th, 2009
8:57 am

This is by far the best move Wren has made in his tenure. Getting a player of McLouth’s caliber for up to 4 years without giving up our top prospects is a great investment. It is questionable the prospects we gave up would be impact players and McLouth is an impact player. Expect to see his average climb with Chipper and McCann in the lineup as opposed to the Laroche brothers for protection.

Billball

June 4th, 2009
8:58 am

It’s all good. McClouth will do well, better than if we had gotten Jay Bruce from Cincinnati. Hand the new players a Charlie Lau video and keep them away from TP. Note that TP is the one in the dugout nobody talks to anymore.

dawes

June 4th, 2009
8:58 am

the braves know what they doing let them do their job

Obama hates Cheney's bald head the most

June 4th, 2009
9:00 am

AMEN Billball, correct on all fronts.

Dogfan1

June 4th, 2009
9:00 am

This is a good move! Prospects are just that, Prospects! Let’s look at the numbers…Charlie Morton, (Had his Chance Last Year) 16 games, 4-8 and a 6.15 ERA! Locke 5.52 ERA in CLASS A…and Hernandez did have some good numbers, but not only was he unproven in the Bigs, McLouth makes him expendable as they are both outfielders and McLouth is an All-Star and Gold Glove winner. One more thing about Morton; if Tommy Glavine couldn’t make the club, what makes anyone think Charlie Morton could? Besides, next year Hudson will be back next year and the staff will be even stronger. This was a no brainier, so quit the BS talk about always trading away our prospects.

owl hunter

June 4th, 2009
9:01 am

No offense to Charlie Morton, but any success we have in the next three years will have more to do with McClouth’s contributions, than Morton’s. McClouth fills an immediate need, and makes us deeper for the future. He’s not a “rental.” Stop regurgitating words you read on websites and come with some actual fatcs.

Aaron

June 4th, 2009
9:02 am

Wow. So you guys still think that batting average is a valid stat to compare players?

NCBravesFan

June 4th, 2009
9:13 am

I posted this in the Glavine blog and will say it again here – this is an OUTSTANDING move by the Braves! The team traded away non-essential pieces to their puzzle and filled an immediate need with a solid young player they can control for years. If anything, I’m a little surprised the Pirates did the deal this early, too Mark.
I saw McLouth a couple of weeks ago against the Nats in DC … made a running, game-ending catch that prevented the Nationals from scoring the tying run.
Once Schafer is ready, two of the three outfield puzzle pieces will be set for years to come.
Will this and the Hanson/Glavine/Medlin move be enough to win in 2009? Dunno. But it says here the team’s longer term fortunes just took a significant turn for the better on June 3, 2009. Nice job, Frank Wren.

MJ

June 4th, 2009
9:15 am

Great trade! Lets compare and contrast what the Braves gave up and for who. The Braves get a proven major league CF and an all-star at that. Who did they give up? Charlie Morton: A guy who failed his first time around in the majors after posting a 6+ ERA and a 4-8 record. Gorkys Hernandez: Acquired in the Renteria trade from Detroit a few years back so he was not a Brave pick to begin with. He has absolutely no power and is maybe 1-2 years of even being ready to make the major league club. Jeff Locke: Presently in A ball sporting a 1-4 record w/ a 5+ ERA, hardly even close to being ready to play in the show in the near future. The Braves did very well here and the Pirates probably could have done better in my opinion later in the year had they waited. Good job Wren!!!

Turtsnap

June 4th, 2009
9:15 am

Good analysis Mark. I agree about SOME reservations, seeing the numbers. But having seen McLouth, we all know he is a battler and I am stoked that he will be battling with the Braves.

On the broadcast last night, Powell noted that the front office said there were tradeS pending. That given, I think the Braves are close on another move. Speculation yes, but I do have a feeling!!

Jfreak

June 4th, 2009
9:15 am

Nate should be a solid player and will add some flexibility to what is a pretty basic lineup. However, he is not the answer to our ills! Our ills are three key players:

Chipper Jones who has done nothing but attempt to pad is batting average the past couple of years (really look bad in a key moment in last night’s game)

Garrett Anderson who is has started slow (injury)

Franceour who has not played well in a year and a half.

Nate can exceed expectations and it won’t matter unless these guys begin to produce more. Maybe Nate addition to the lineup will have a good impact how they are pitched too? Maybe?

I do like the trade and I think Nate is great addition!