McLouth: Did Braves seize a moment or squander the future?

The big trade inspires big discussion

Here’s the kind of sentence no fan likes to read: “Starting with the July 2007 trade for Mark Teixeira, and including the December trade for Javier Vazquez as well as Wednesday’s trade for center fielder Nate McLouth, Atlanta has made three prospect-for-veteran trades that would pretty much gut your average farm system.” That’s the appraisal (link requires registration) of Matt Meyers in ESPN The Magazine. But wait.

Meyers also writes: “Because the Braves are so good at developing their own talent, this trade doesn’t cripple them like it might other teams. However, they have given up a boatload of talent … and yet they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2005. Teixeira is gone, Vazquez is still inconsistent, and McLouth isn’t a superstar. It’s hard to shake the feeling that these three recent prospect-for-veteran deals won’t come back to haunt them in the next few seasons.” (Buzz editor’s note: Meyers writes “won’t,” but in context of the article I believe he means “will.”)

Meanwhile, Cliff Corcoran of SI.com credits the Braves for seizing an opportunity in the NL East. But this is his take on McLouth: “An asset at the plate, but he’s not a true impact player.” Corcoran’s conclusion: “This could prove to be a deal in which there is no loser — neither team gave up something they couldn’t afford to lose — but if the Braves aren’t playing baseball in October, it could be, in a literal sense, one in which there’s no real winner.”

The Texas Rangers stand as a case study of what can happen when you’re on the other end of a propects-for-veteran trade (requires registration), writes Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus. Writes Kahrl: “It’s fair to suggest that the sheer quantity of quality added in the deal has made a significant difference for the Rangers, while also coming well shy of propelling the Braves into the postseason.”

Did the Braves give up too much for Nate McLouth?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Well, now. These wouldn’t seem rave reviews. But I think the length of McLouth’s contract — he’s locked up through 2012 — tips the balance toward the Men of Wren. They had to have a bat and a center fielder, and they got both long-term. And they didn’t give up Tommy Hanson or Jason Heyward to do it.

Was J-J-J-Joe hurting all spring?

There was likewise much discussion over Joe Johnson’s underwhelming playoff performance, but Michael Gearon Jr., one of the Hawks’ several owners, said in an interview with J. Scott Trubey of the Atlanta Business Chronicle that Johnson suffered from “an undisclosed foot injury the second half of the season.” And here we thought the guy was just tired.

Speaking of the Hawks …

In its latest mock draft, The Hoops Report has the Hawks taking Ty Lawson of North Carolina in Round 1. In his latest mock, Sean Deveney of Sporting News Today has them taking Jeff Teague of Wake Forest.

But not all point guards are created equal. Chad Ford of ESPN.com rated those available and had Teague No. 6 among PGs and Lawson No. 9 (requires registration), which wouldn’t necessarily be the way I’d see it. (Ford has Eric Maynor of VCU No. 8.) And sure enough, Ford has the Hawks taking Teague (requires registration) with the 19th pick in his latest mock.

And who does NBAdraft.net have the Hawks taking? Not a point guard, but Tyler Hansbrough. If that happens, you’ll hear the boos all the way to Chapel Hill.

One thing more: NBAdraft.net no longer has Gani Lawal on its 2009 board. He’s listed instead as the 20th pick in the 2010 draft. Does that mean he’s returning to Georgia Tech? There has, it should be said, been no official announcement. But it’s enough to make you go, “Hmmm.”

The Georgia Bulldogs find a leader

In an interview with Matt Hayes of Sporting News Today, Mark Richt said that, in meetings with his players after spring practice, he asked each for the name(s) of the team leader(s). Said Richt: “They could write one guy or five guys, and 107 guys wrote Joe Cox.”

The Georgia Bulldogs found a discrepency

Esteemed former colleague Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com has found, through an open records request (a Schlabach staple) that Georgia signee Robert Dozier’s score of 1,260 on his SAT back in December 2003 raised enough concerns that he was asked to re-take the test. When he did, in June 2004, he scored 720. Georgia denied his application for admission two months later.

Dozier, of Lithonia, wound up at Memphis and started at forward on the team that came within an eyelash of the 2008 NCAA title. He figures to be taken in Round 2 of the NBA draft.

And before you start saying, “Aha! Another Jim Harrick recruit!”, it should be noted that Dennis Felton was Georgia’s coach in December 2003.

103 comments Add your comment

Baba O'Riley

June 8th, 2009
6:51 am

I’ve yet to find a baseball fan (not a Braves fan) that doesn’t think the Braves stole McLouth from the Pirates.

Bill

June 8th, 2009
6:57 am

Good stuff Mark.I still believe this is a Braves team too flawed to be playing in the postseason.They will finish between 77 and 84 wins.

While blame can be laid at the feet of Frank Wren,the real fault lies at the very top.If ownership doesn’t care that will filter through the entire organization.No way you or anyone else can tell me Liberty Media cares.

mitch

June 8th, 2009
7:09 am

Mr. MB–did you see in the paper where the Braves won yesterday? Eight to something. Six or seven, I think. It’s in the paper this morning. Your pal, Mitch

Mitch

June 8th, 2009
7:09 am

Mark, I dont agree with you about the McLouth deal. I think that the Braves had to do something. Andruw Jones is gone, Gregor Blanco cant be here, apparently because the orginization doesnt feel he’s ready to be, and Jordan Schafer was pitiful offensively. What was Frank to do? Continue to run Jordan out there, even though the guy wasnt hitting a lick?

Yes, we gave up some good prospects for Mcclouth, but we also got an affordable player, who is locked up for nearly four years, who hits for power, in a power starved lineup. I like the Mcclouth deal.

Since last winter, Frank has been aggressive, and has made some good trades. If this team could only hit a little bit, maybe we can get into the race for the wild card, or division.

Mitch

mitch

June 8th, 2009
7:12 am

Mr. MB–that second “Mitch” ain’t me. It’s somebody else. Your pal, Mitch.

NCBravesFan

June 8th, 2009
7:24 am

I think it’s hard to fault the McLouth trade in terms of how long we have him under contract/control, how badly he was needed for the OF and what we gave up to get him. Perhaps Morton will turn into a reliable and consistent starter, but I wonder whether he has the makeup & personality to go along with his “stuff” to stick around anywhere for a long period of time.

As for the larger issue, I really wish the Braves would have taken a mulligan late last year & this year and worked (more) aggressively to acquire prospects by trade. But we are where we are I guess, and there’s no reason we can’t deal players like Vazquez & McLouth away if it becomes clear we can’t win with this crew.

BRAD

June 8th, 2009
7:34 am

You can’t get something for nothing—Braves had a need and they found an affordable solution. Next, they have to do something about a right fielder. Everytime the right fielder bats, I exspect to see impatience that you find in a little leaguer, and unforetunately, I always right.

mitch

June 8th, 2009
7:49 am

Mr. MB–I meant to say somebody else with the same name as mine. I guess it’s the same because it’s spelled the same as mine. Who can tell for sure? Your pal, Mitch

Mark Bradley

June 8th, 2009
7:50 am

Can’t tell the Mitches without a scorecard. What will become of this blog?

mitch

June 8th, 2009
7:53 am

Mr. MB–we’re zinging right along today. The NC braves fan let out that we are where we are, and Brad fired off with the idea that you can’t get something for nothing. Then, there’s my offerings. Your pal, Mitch

Roswell Ed

June 8th, 2009
8:00 am

The Braves have plenty of talent down on the farm and I believe they are Infante and a right fielder away from contending for a spot in the World Series.

Who cares about basketball and who is Joe Johnson? Let me guess does he have more than 5 tattoos? Funny how we all thought Rodman was a freak back in the day and now he would be in the norm and Lawson won’t be therewhen the Hawks pick.

If Jim Herrick were the coach wanna bet that guy wasn’t playing in Athens?

Let me get this STRAIGHT. The Dawgs were voting for Cox??????????

Visit me at the funniest site on the web

http://www.LibertarianHumor.com

Mark Bradley

June 8th, 2009
8:01 am

Yes, and we had Baba O’Riley hitting leadoff. Just like on “Who’s Next.”

Roswell Ed

June 8th, 2009
8:01 am

It is quit the MITCHAPALOOZA isn’t it.

http://www.LibertarianHumor.com

matt_T

June 8th, 2009
8:16 am

If trading away your Vets for prospects is so smart, then why haven’t the Pirates had a winning season in 15+ years?

Larry

June 8th, 2009
8:19 am

Trades and ownership are no the central reason for this team hovering at or around .500 for three seasons as this team still has one of the top payrolls in the league. The central reason is Bobby Cox!

In the end,
it will not matter,
with Bobby Cox,
as the manager!

1-14 all time in the last game and series of the postseason.

Larry

June 8th, 2009
8:23 am

Mark,

Seriously, and I’ve asked this from DOB but he doesn’t have the courage to discuss this so he can retain privileges to the Braves’ clubhouse and free food, why has no reporter demonstrated the courage to discuss the ability of Bobby Cox’s in game decisions on pitching, lack of aggressiveness, or anything for that matter?

Is there a fear of retribution?

Mark Bradley

June 8th, 2009
8:26 am

Good point, Matt.

Any Name But Mitch

June 8th, 2009
8:32 am

Which prospects that the Braves have traded away to Texas have been such impact players? Sure we traded a lot of “POTENTIAL” away to get Tex, but if we would have made a deep run into October, the GM would have looked like a genius! I don’t see the big deal if Salty and the others aren’t All-Stars, and if we had depth at their positions (McCann, Hanson, Heyward etc), then who cares?

The Grinch

June 8th, 2009
8:33 am

I agree with those who think we robbed the Pirates. Morton had good stuff, but he was tentative and unlike Medlen didn’t seem to be getting it. Who here had him cracking the rotation anytime soon, if at all? Not in the next three years, anyway. Same for Locke (as far as the timing; he was in A ball). Now that Bobby has figured out that McClouth needs to be batting leadoff and KJ needs to be in the 7 hole where he actually hits consistently, we’ll see a much improved offense. Give the guy more than a week before judging the trade. I might also add everyone in Pitt both on the team and in the stands feel they were robbed for what it’s worth.

What makes this completely different from the Tex trade is that we’ll still have this guy when all the farm talent we ARE gonna use is up and in place. Excellent move; Wren knows exactly what he’s doing from a business standpoint if not PR.

Dusty

June 8th, 2009
8:34 am

The Braves have not been hitting for quite awhile. Does anybody think Terry Pendleton is not doing very well – or are the hitters so bad they cannot take advice? From reading the paper, it seems Chipper is doing more coaching with the hitters than TP. Is that where we need a change the most?

Mark Bradley

June 8th, 2009
8:40 am

As luck (or something) would have it, Dusty, I wrote about Terry Pendleton just last Thursday.

Sam Everyman, Citizen Journalist

June 8th, 2009
8:54 am

McLouth may never be a superstar but he does appear to field the position well and make occasional contact. He will hit more homeruns, likely, than the other two outfielders combined. He stole a base the other day. What was that?

McLouth improves the team.

Now, Francoeur wastes every at-bat and deprives this team of runs that a more disciplined hitter might plate. It seems fashionable right now to trash McLouth and Hanson with little thought to the real underperformers on the team.

Is it true that on Brian McCann Bat Day only David Ross bats were being given away? And will there be a Francoeur bat day? And will the little bats swarm the field and hang from the rafters?

Herschel Talker

June 8th, 2009
8:58 am

Mark – great column. You’re on fire lately. Unlike DOB, the blind homer.

The Grinch

June 8th, 2009
9:09 am

I’m pretty sure the original Homer was blind too, or so they say. Though I’m sure DOB’s much closer to driving an Odyssey than writing one. :-P

Ted Striker

June 8th, 2009
9:09 am

I’m just waiting for some Tech guy to say “107 UGA guys can write?”

(The above sentence is known as a pre-emptive strike against a jibe)

Bill

June 8th, 2009
9:15 am

I believe Wren did what he had to. We needed Nate and he’s locked up for 4 years. Glavine’s a has been. Still believe Cox and Staff need to go,

Sam Everyman, Citizen Journalist

June 8th, 2009
9:18 am

“I was seeing lightning bugs . . . ” Yes, Chipper came out of a game after seeing lightning bugs. The fact is, it is lightning bug season. The lightning bugs are out. So, what Chipper saw was not so unusual. Still, no one can blame him for removing himself from the game when combining lightning bugs with tingling extremities.

Sometimes too much information is offered.

Sam Everyman, Citizen Journalist

June 8th, 2009
9:26 am

Not likely that anyone on the DOB blog would be familiar with that particular Homer – only with Homer Simpson. Still, some good material there, Grinch. Have you blogged here before? Didn’t you win a DOB blog tee shirt awhile back before they narrowed the shirt and added a splash of color?

Tim Iliad

June 8th, 2009
9:33 am

Jeff Porter: “What’s wrong, Chip?”

Chipper: “Uh, I’m seeing lightning bugs and my extremities are tingling. I have to come out.”

Jeff Porter: “Put your head down between your knees and see if you can regain your composure . . . ”

Chipper: “Uh, now I can see my extremities . . . get me outa here!”

Mark Bradley

June 8th, 2009
9:39 am

Last I checked, Mr. O’Brien had a motorcycle. And a Mercedes.

willdave

June 8th, 2009
9:45 am

Again, I’d much rather see the Braves stick with the talented kids in their farm system rather than trade them away for a big-name player. The fans and the media then expect so much from that player that he inevitably fails to live up to those high expectations. The excessive pressure might even hinder his ability to produce in some instances.

All I'm Saying Is...

June 8th, 2009
9:47 am

MB: Why haven’t you or Schultz commented on the decision made in spring training that necessitated the trade for Nate? We should have sent Schaefer down and kept the other guy who was out of options and who we sent to Detroit?

ET

June 8th, 2009
9:55 am

I still believe that we started this cycle when we traded Wainwright & Marquis for Drew. Drew was not resigned so we needed another hitter. What do we do? We trade for Texereia. The prospects we dealt for him are well documented. This year we decided to go with a rookie in center and in our infinite wisdom we trade away Anderson in the preseason…a good hitting excellent fielding center fielder… for a mid level reliever that probably won’t see the majors. Now we need Anderson back because Jordan stunk it up, but don’t have him, so we trade more top tier prospects for a suspect all star center fielder.

One trade begets another. Once you start the cycle you can’t seem to get out of it. I don’t see Atlanta keeping the guys that in the past would have made them a consistent winner. Until they change this behavior they will not get back to the top unless they spend like the evil empire does. We all know they don’t have the funds to do that.

PMC

June 8th, 2009
9:57 am

Squander what? Three guys who weren’t ever making this team?

No they didn’t squander the future whatsoever. Now, is McClouth a superstar. No, but you got him a month early too. It’s still not like it’s going to matter much because they are still at least a consistant bat away from competing this year…. but seriously… why would ANYONE…ANYONE complain the braves went out and got a professional outfielder who can hit for once.

NORRIS

June 8th, 2009
9:59 am

That is just a silly question. We didnt give up anything.
Morton had a chance and couldnt do anything with it.
gorky has not hit a home run this year and his average was just marginal in double A ball. The pitcher was a nobody.
We signed a center fielder who is of quality and we got him for 4 years.
I say the future is with Mclouth.

Be-little, BeBOLD

June 8th, 2009
10:00 am

After years of watching THE MAN manage great players to the play-offs and losing, what can be expected other than inconsistent play of today’s wanna-be Braves? The answer is and has been COX, not what the players do, but how he manages! No urgency at all, “get-um next time” theory does not work. Every game counts in the end. And the “good ‘ol boy” coaching by Pendleton does nothing to help yet Cox still retains him. Loyalty is one thing he has too much of . . . how about using “performance” as a guide?

PMC

June 8th, 2009
10:02 am

The Braves didn’t give up one of thier highly talented farm players and they picked up a guy who is an everyday major league outfielder with some pop. What this trade does is give them better options for the future. They helped themselves quite a bit in the quality depth area with this trade and gave themselves some flexibility. The reality is that they are still not quite as good as the top tier teams in the NL.

Smooth

June 8th, 2009
10:05 am

We still need to make another move, let’s get rid of Frenchy and a pitcher for Mark D and play him in right field.

Gene

June 8th, 2009
10:13 am

Scherholtz had some success in the 1990’s, but you could field a competitive baseball team from players that the Braves dumped or otherwise lost. Wren is Scherholtz’s Damon Evans and nothing more than a puppet. Shafer was obviously not ready. Josh Anderson is batting around .300 for Detroit, and his speed is exactly what the Braves are missing. Wren and company essentially gave Anderson away. Glavin could not possibly have done any worse than Hanson, and Glavin’s treatment will certainly affect player morale for the rest of the year. The Braves’ front office should be held to a higher performance standard. Scherholtz and Wren just don’t have the “velocity” required for post-season play.

All I'm Saying Is...

June 8th, 2009
10:13 am

Since we chose wrong in the spring (keeping Jordan and getting rid of Anderson), we needed a lead-off hitter with some speed and a productive centerfielder and Nate fills the bill. As has been mentioned, he’s signed for a couple of more years which makes this situation completely different from the JD Drew and Texereia situations as each was way more harmful to the team since both guys walked and we have nothing to show for it. Granted, we made a significant offer to Tex but he wanted (and got) more money (so much for loving Atlanta and remembering his Tech years fondly, blah, blah, blah) and I don’t fault him for that since its a business.

If you are G.M., it is always in your best interest to trade potential for a a proven veteran—I mean there is a reason why so many guys (not just Baseball America’s top 100) don’t stick in the bigs.

Scheurholtz [sp] was the master of doing this. He swung often, came up big a few times (does anyone remember who we gave up to get Fred McGriff and does anyone care?), and had quite a few misses (Drew and Tex to name two).

Our problem is that it seems (until the last offseason) that we were unwilling to pay market rates for free agents. With the Lowe signing, hopefully, we will continue to see a change in that.

Blackberry Cobbler

June 8th, 2009
10:14 am

If the trading stops where it is now, this team still doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making the post-season……………. the pitching is better than last season but not good enough and too inconsistent, McLouth is better than Shaffer but not a real impact guy, there still not enough productivity out of Francoeur, Anderson, and Johnson, and Chipper is still going to miss his injury-prone share of games.

Wren Hater

June 8th, 2009
10:22 am

The Braves Squandered the Future….

… by making Frank “Wrong Again” Wren the General Manager!

NC Braves Fan

June 8th, 2009
10:22 am

Matt_T @8:16 – No comparison in my book. The Pirates bring their players up from the minors and lose them to free agency or trade them away before they realize their potential.

In the Braves’ case, they’ve laid out a lot of money on free agents this year and unless things change dramatically will have not much to show for it.

My point is that we put a floor under the team this year through the FA signings, but I wonder if in doing so we limited how good the Braves will be in 2-3 years?

PB&J

June 8th, 2009
10:23 am

McLouth is decent… but hardly the big bat we need in this anemic line-up. I think we missed an opportunity here to truly improve the offense.

Karl Childers

June 8th, 2009
10:30 am

Dat Francouer boy needs some bisucits and mustard…..

That’ll fix whatevers broken…

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……..

McLouth of the South

June 8th, 2009
10:31 am

Numbers for Josh Anderson in Detroit: .269 .307 .352 .659 (73 OPS+)

Yeah, that’s a leadoff man for you. Really let one get away…

Idiots.

Taters

June 8th, 2009
10:33 am

mmmm… love dem taters with mustard….

AGTFan

June 8th, 2009
10:36 am

The length and terms of the McLouth contract make the deal more desirable, but the folks who think the Braves “stole” him greatly overrate him. It’s a sad commentary on the Braves outfield that a career .261 hitter is such an upgrade. He’s had one above average season in his MLB career. Hopefully that’s an indication that he’s improving and will continue to be an above average player. His one good season wasn’t as good as Francouer’s first two seasons and everyone in Atlanta now thinks Francouer will never be a good player. Gutting a farm system can be more than trading prospects away. It can also be rushing prospects to the big leagues before they are ready. As for why the Pirates haven’t been competitive in so long, they don’t have money to compete in the modern era of MLB. Maybe the Braves don’t either.

JD

June 8th, 2009
10:40 am

I was quite upset when I heard of the McLouth trade at first. Gorkys AND Locke? But then I realized that

1) We have McLouth for 4 years
2) While Gorkys has a lot of potential, McLouth will be the better offensive CF
3) Jeff Locke hasn’t been performing as well as I thought
4) Charlie Morton….well, he’s a good guy. Just doesn’t seem like he’ll be a great player

STRETCH

June 8th, 2009
10:41 am

Larry, thanks for that tidbit! But as usual, it seems NOBODY wants to write about Bobby Cox and they NEVER will.