Braves should take a trade holiday, not trade for Holliday

Frank Wren is a man in a hurry. That’s his nature. He walks fast. He’s forever fiddling with his BlackBerry. His predecessor gave the impression of having all the time in the world, but this general manager is always in motion. (Perhaps that’s due to their backgrounds: John Schuerholz started as a school teacher, while Wren was a minor-league center fielder.)

Wren’s default mode is to try something. No GM was more aggressive over the winter, and now we arrive at the fortnight when GMs feel duty-bound not just to try something but to do anything. And surely the temptation of Wren will be massive as July winds down.

His team is six games out of first place in a division where nothing is settled. The Phillies are so desperate for pitching they signed Pedro Martinez, whose fastball is no longer fast. The Mets are hurting. The Marlins are nothing special. The imp perched on Wren’s shoulder keeps whispering, “One more move and you can win this thing.”

And Wren is, by his very nature, disposed to feel that way already. But a GM gets paid not just to listen to his gut (or an impertinent imp). He has to heed his head. The best course for the 2009 Braves is to sit tight.

Yes, it’s tantalizing to imagine Matt Holliday in the Braves’ outfield in August and September. Temptation always comes in a pretty package. But the Braves weakened themselves over the long haul in that moment of Schuerholz weakness in 2007, and one of the key issues now — should Yunel Escobar be traded? — would have a different set of dynamics had not Elvis Andrus been sent to Texas in the Mark Teixeira deal.

The A’s, who employ Holliday for the moment, want prospects. Would you trade Jordan Schafer and Kris Medlen, say, for two months of a diminished Boras-represented slugger? Would you give up Escobar, too? Would you do it if, as Dave O’Brien reports, the A’s might throw in the 34-year-old shortstop Orlando Cabrera as a sweetener? The answer to all of the above should be no.

Should the Braves trade for Matt Holliday?

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Escobar is younger and, at the moment, better than Holliday, and he’s under contract beyond October 2009. And the Braves have made so many kid-laden trades — Teixeira being the glaring example, but Tyler Flowers was dispatched for Javier Vazquez and Gorkys Hernandez for Nate McLouth — that their farm system needs time to reset itself.

And there’s no assurance Holliday would swing the 2009 division race any more than Teixeira did in 2007. (Albert Pujols would, but he’s not apt to be available.) There’s no great difference-maker to be had. This is baseball, where the difference-makers are starting pitchers, and the Braves have enough of those.

In a way, losing four games in the standings over the 10 days before the All-Star break did Wren a favor. Were the Braves still two games back, the pressure on their GM to make one last trade would have been unbearable. Six games out is different. You’re close enough to win but not so close you feel you’ve let down your club if you don’t do something, anything.

And that’s good. Because this isn’t the July to do something, anything. This is the July to assess options but to hoard resources for what seems a bright future. That voice on his shoulder? Wren needs to whip out a can of Imp-B-Gone. I believe they sell it at Wal-Mart.

296 comments Add your comment

matt_T

July 15th, 2009
11:04 am

Its not much of an upgrade either, Escobar is OPSing the same as Holiday.

RF is already upgraded with the addition by subraction and Infante will be back soon, and its been a while, but he was the best hitter the first part of the season.

Sting 'em Buzz

July 15th, 2009
11:06 am

The team will still not win with MH. They are destined to spend the year in mediocrity.

Mike Jay

July 15th, 2009
11:06 am

Could not agree more. It’s ok to rebuild for a few seasons after a 14 year playoff run.

Reid Adair

July 15th, 2009
11:07 am

This would be almost like the Teixeira deal. Both Holliday and Cabrera are short-term answers unless Liberty Media is willing to spend and sign them to extensions.

Wren needs to JUST SAY NO.

The_Superhoo

July 15th, 2009
11:15 am

Mark,

I DEFINATELY agree. However, there is one case where I’d be ok dumping Escobar. If we can do what other teams have done to us over the last 3 years, and get prospects for him: DO IT.

This season is done. Mets are going to be healthy at some point, just in time to choke the Division away to the Phillies. We’ll flirt with .500 the rest of the season.

SimpleDawg

July 15th, 2009
11:18 am

Hey Frankie,

Please STOP TRADING HOME GROWN YOUNG TALENT FOR INFERIOR SHORT TERM TALENT.

Why the rush to trade Escobar? Trade Kelly Johnson? YES. Escobar? NO.

STOP TALKING ABOUT TRADING ESCOBAR, it only retards his play by screwing up his head.

If you just have to trade someone, trade Gonzalez and Moylan for a hitter….that would addition by subtraction. We probably have 10 pitchers in the minor who could pitch and have a 8.00+ ERA…..maybe even less.

The Frenchy trade will turn out to be a big mistake. Let’s don’t make more mistakes under the guise of “improvement”. Just say NO.

Smart Jay

July 15th, 2009
11:20 am

NO! The Frenchy/Church trade is a good one because he wasn’t coming back anyway (and aren’t we likely able to keep Church for less than Frenchy?).

This trade makes no sense as it won’t improve the club much for this season, and will, in fact, only hurt long term.

I guess you could spin it as getting rid of a problem (Escobar), and upgrading the outfield (but, Holliday’s stats in Oakland are probably about what we could expect in Turner Field – rid of the Coors effect). You can probably rid yourself of Schaefer if McClouth is the long-term CF, and maybe the Braves might consider resigning Cabrera if there is no other SS available end of 2009.

Plus, there’s the issue of money. How much more are the Braves into if they have to pay Holliday/Cabrera?

I suppose this really all boils down to how much does Bobby/Wren want to get rid of Escobar.

Frank

July 15th, 2009
11:22 am

As the long as the rebuilding doesn’t turn into the disaster that is the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Smart Jay

July 15th, 2009
11:24 am

BTW – Yunel is not OPS’g Holliday’s numbers. Holliday’s OPS is .922, Yunel’s is .789. But, Cabrera’s is .683. So, Cabrera us closer to Yunel than Yunel to Holliday.

Herschel Talker

July 15th, 2009
11:27 am

Mark – you are on fire lately, and this is your best one yet. There is no way to succeed this year without compromising the future. There is no Melvin Nieves for Fred McGriff coming our way. Be content with a .500 year and retool for next year with another bat in the offseason. Forget the quick fix. Quick fixes get you Mark Teixeira for 4 studs. Perhaps the Teixeira deal was a gamble worth taking, but when it doesn’t work, you see the disaster in terms of what you let get away.

Juan

July 15th, 2009
11:31 am

Everyone thinks Escobar is a problem. When it is a problem to be leading the team in hits, RBI, and RISP?

NC Braves Fan

July 15th, 2009
11:32 am

Mark – what if the Braves did something a little more modest, like trade Kotchman and acquire Nick Johnson from Washington (not necessarily in the same transaction)? Johnson has more pop in his bat (look at the number of doubles, OPS and OBP relative to Koch), is a FA at the end of the year and only making $5.5 million.

Not saying the Braves would necessarily do this trade specifically – but something along those lines.

Bama Aaron

July 15th, 2009
11:33 am

I completely agree Mark. Don’t do a thing. And especially don’t trade a talented SS for an over-hyped OF. Holliday is not the answer…for anyone. I think this season with the A’s is proving he was a product of Coors Field. Stand pat Mr. Wren unless you can find someone to take Moylan and Gonzalez off our hands. We need two bullpen arms that Bobby C. hasn’t overused yet.

On a side note totally unrelated Mark B. can you ask your buddy Barnhart to look at how he uploaded his blog today. I’ve been able to read him each day until today…today he’s blocked because my IS detects it as NCAA related and they block anything NCAA.

jeffrey d

July 15th, 2009
11:34 am

I just noticed that Elvis Andrus is hitting .253 and has an unsightly and unGodly OPS of .666

Mark Bradley

July 15th, 2009
11:36 am

Why, thanks, Herschel.

Mike Jay makes a nice point: It’s OK to take a few months to rebuild. If you never do, you never get rebuilt. You’re always chasing instead.

Floyd

July 15th, 2009
11:36 am

On the surface, this trade seems a bad idea. But one does have to wonder why Yunel is always on the block, right? Look a little closer and it grows increasingly apparent that Yunel has some serious attitude problems that may be proving cancerous in the clubhouse.

We only get to see glimpes of it from afar, but one might assume it’s far worse than we realize. As for Yunel’s potential, he’s been in the league, what, four years?

Guys, at some point there is no more potential – you are what you are. And Yunel is proving to be a very good hitter, an occasionally spectacular fielder with a problem making routine plays while falling asleep at the wheel and he’s a horrific baserunner. Given that Atlanta has been trying to ship Yunel since last year (if reports are to be believed), then shouldn’t that tell us something about him?

Mark Bradley

July 15th, 2009
11:39 am

Yes, but Elvis is starting at shortstop as a rookie for a team contending for first place. Were he still here, the Braves could well have dealt Escobar for something of lasting value.

And Bama, if I might ask a technical question: Are you using Internet Explorer?

The_Superhoo

July 15th, 2009
11:40 am

@jeffrey d:

heh. heh heh. un”GOD”ly OPS of .666

Mark Bradley

July 15th, 2009
11:40 am

I’m not so sure Yunel is on the block. (I was sure Jeff Francoeur was on the block.) I think the Braves, as Dave O’Brien suggested yesterday, are in listening mode. That’s a bit different than, “We gotta get rid of this guy PDQ!”

Don

July 15th, 2009
11:42 am

The big mystery is why the Braves keep talking about this trade or this addition etc. and do not address the real problem – Bobby Cox. And an even greater mystery – why the baseball writers protect him and (like Bobby Cox) do not seem to understand what out main offensive run production problem is – not working the count – not making the opposing pitcher throw a lot of pitches – guaranteeing terrible run production. The Braves are next to last in all of baseball in average number of pitches seen per at bat. This is typical Cox – he has never taught, emphasized, demanded this. Do the Braves baseball writers who ignore this and protect Cox not understand the necessity of working the count, making the opposing pitchers thow a lot of pitches – enabiling your hitters to see what the pitcher has, adjust to the pitcher, get better pitches to hit, tire him out both within innings and for the game, get into their weak middle relief and other advantages. This is absurd. And this is just his overall failure relating to having his hitters make the right approach — To say nothing of his being a very poor handler of the bullpen, and a a verry poor in game strategy manager. He won the 14 divisions by having an All Star Pitching Staff so dominant and far far superior to every other team in the league that made it almost impossible to lose the Division over the long 162 game regular season schedule – and even with this, he usually just barely won the Division – and then only 1 W.S. It is amazing that even with this dominant Pitching, he could only win 1 W.S. It is beyond belief that baseball writers aparently do not understand the absolute necessity for working the count and making the opposing pitchers throw a lot of pitches if you are going to have good run production – and the fact that Bobby Cox seems to do little or nothing to develop this.

Jeff R

July 15th, 2009
11:45 am

It’s absurd to even consider trading Escobar if the the only concern is his temperament. The guy’s a Latino and he has some fire. Good managers need to cope with that and squeeze the best results possible out of that player.

If the problem with Escobar is something the team isn’t making public, then AJC needs to do some digging and find out.

But I do have a possible deal. If Wren wants to onload Escobar, send himn to the Rangers for Andrus, Feliz, Salty and Harrison.

What about it?

Marshall

July 15th, 2009
11:50 am

I dont think you all understnad what his attitude is doing to the clubhouse. Yunel is like a cancer that not even chip can help with. If Wren believes Holliday can improve his numbers in Atlanta it would be a great deal for several reasons, A) Wren would have made Oakland pick up a chunk of Holliday’s salary so in essence they wouldn’t have paid alot for him, B) It is definately a defensive upgrade from the sluggish liability of Garrett Anderson in Left Field. So all the numbers are equal, you can’t put numbers up to hustle and great play. So if they do pull on the deal fans may be mad but I doubt that will last if the Braves make a good run at the Phillies, I mean look at who they had to go digging for to bulk up their rotation. The Braves could feast off PEDRO!

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 15th, 2009
11:51 am

We should never trade with Oakland because the A’s are trying to dump salaries while aquiring younger players. That is what the Braves should be doing. Braves need to stop chasing the dream of a division in 2009 and look toward ‘10 or ‘11.

Marshall

July 15th, 2009
11:52 am

Yet, don’t worry the Cardinals are rumored to be trying to make a deal for Escobar now, and the Holliday/Cabrera Deal is supposedly off!

Ron E.

July 15th, 2009
11:52 am

Yes let’s never trade prospects to try to win. Let’s not try to get McGriff or Denny Neagle or Gary Sheffield or JD Drew or Mark Teixeira or Javier Vasquez. Instead let’s just hold onto to every single A player and ignore the fact that the vast majority of them don’t amount to anything if they ever even make the big leagues and ignore the fact that Chipper and Derek Lowe will be one year closer to retirement next year and Gonzalez and Soriano will be free agents and Peter Moylan will be entering the Blaine Boyer phase of his career thanks to being overused. Nosirree, the Braves should make no effort at all to try to win this year in a very winnable division because Mark Bradley can guarantee us whatever single A player we might trade will be totally awesome 3-4 years from now.

Bama Aaron

July 15th, 2009
11:52 am

Mark, Yes I am using Explorer. Is there a setting I can turn off? I doubt my IS will let me install a new browser.

DirtyDawg

July 15th, 2009
11:53 am

I certainly don’t know what it will take to get Yunel’s head screwed on straight – assuming that’s the problem – but before I would dump that talent I’d figure out something, anything. Somebody compared his stats to Holliday’s which got me thinking, maybe Yunel needs to transition to RF – he’s got the big arm, he’s faster than JF was/is, maybe the position wouldn’t mean as much wear and tear on his bod as the constantly moving and diving position of shortstop. That way we can platoon Church with Diaz (a better position for his left-field equipped arm) in left and Let the Loaf Leave.

tjhook

July 15th, 2009
11:53 am

Can Escobar play anything besides short? I’m wondering that since we don’t have a replacement for Chipper presently. I’d like to see the team bring back Adam Laroche (there’s your home run hitter behind McCann and Chipper). Maybe we can interest the Pirates in Escobar and Kotchman and ask a third team to join in just in case they want to move Jack Wilson or Escobar.

Marshall

July 15th, 2009
11:54 am

Maybe you think the 1991 team should have dumped too, instead making a run from 9 back? Teams 5 6 back aren’t out of it, especially when the team your making a run at has had pitching problems, and not knowing what the newcomer to their staff will be able to do. By July 28th if they haven’t made up any ground I would agree they should sell. At this point if they make up even one game I say go get a bat and see what they can do.

raymond

July 15th, 2009
11:54 am

if we deal Escobar, who plays SS next year after Cabrera leaves ? The Braves should move any impending free agent they are not going to offer arbitration. They can’t let anyone like Gonzalez leave for nothing.
Maybe if they signed more draft picks they’d have more options down the road. Everything is done on the cheap.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 15th, 2009
11:55 am

I say no to the Escobar trade. I think many of his attitude problems have been a byproduct of tempermental youth. I like how he contributes to the game (minus a few WTF fielding errors.) Unless Albert Pujols or Dustin Pedroia wanted to come wear a Braves uni, I say no.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 15th, 2009
11:56 am

Jeff R, you would have to be CRAZY to make that deal. If Yunel had a contract that had only a year reamining, then they might go for that.

Bama Aaron

July 15th, 2009
11:56 am

One other comment about this supposed Escobar deal. I do think there is more there than the general public knows. But even with that you can’t do a deal for him without getting a SS back in return. Even in dealing with Oakland Cabrera is not an adequate replacement IMO.
I don’t keep up with other clubs systems much but I can’t think of another team right now that has a SS to burn to make the trade without wanting some of our prospects that we don’t need to give up.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 15th, 2009
11:59 am

TJHook, please tell me you were joking about LaRoche.

chc4

July 15th, 2009
11:59 am

Any trade for Holliday would be insanely stupid. The Braves are going nowhere this year. What Wren should do his trade his 2 best assets — Javy Vazquez and Mike Gonzalez (if healthy). This organization won’t win until 2011 at least so we need to build towards that. Javy and Gonzo will be long gone by then.

Preston Hannatized

July 15th, 2009
12:00 pm

His power numbers are down, his homeruns that used to jump off his bat are outs to the track. Maybe all those high-stat years are suspect now. But enough about Chipper. We don’t need Holliday either.

The_Superhoo

July 15th, 2009
12:03 pm

Let’s dispell some errant thinking on some of those the Braves have dealt recently:

Elvis Andrus – .253 BA, .315 OBP, .666 OPS … Yawn. We don’t need that.
Jarrod Salty – .244 BA, .318 OBP, .707 OPS … Meh.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 15th, 2009
12:07 pm

chc4, you are absolutely right. ‘11 is the key. Now I don’t figure Chipper will be much help at that time. Maybe we can send him to a winner this year and pickup something for 2011.

AppalachiaBrave

July 15th, 2009
12:09 pm

I like the new scrappers brought to the team…The Braves needed some of those type guys. But don’t trade away the future…again. Frank needs to chill out and let them play now….I like Conrad, Mcloth,Prado,Escobar….Scrapper types. Real baseball players. That is what we need more of….THe Tex trade was terrible, lets learn from that!

Ken Stallings

July 15th, 2009
12:11 pm

This would be a disaster trade, on the scale of the Len Barker trade with Cleveland that sent Brett Butler and Brooks Jacoby! Escobar is a young and somewhat irascible player, and sometimes inconsistent. But on a purely objective scale, he’s an equal hitter (slightly better) than Matt Holliday.

Further, the Braves won’t be able to retain any player represented by Boras and is eligible for free agency after the season. This is the sole reason why the A’s are dangling Holliday. The A’s want to unload him for prospects because they don’t want to negotiate a contract extension with Boras.

It is time for the Braves to build from within and stop mortgaging the future. The McClouth trade was an excellent move because of who we got and his long term contract status. Such a trade for Holliday would reverse that previous gain and undermine the team for this year and years to follow.

snes

July 15th, 2009
12:15 pm

I agree no to Holliday and no to trading Escobar. If Wren really wants to make a move why not trade Kotchman and bring up Barbaro Canizares from Gwinnett? Maybe get a low level prospect for Kotchman and Canizares is only hitting .323 10HR 47RBIs and a .387 OBP and was in the Futures game in St.Louis with Jason Heyward. It might be a step back defensively but it would be a huge step forward offensively.

chc4

July 15th, 2009
12:20 pm

Barbaro Canizares is a 30 year AAA player. May as well stick Freddie Freeman in there and let him learn. Kotchman would be fine if we had any power in the lineup. But we don’t so he’s not.

John OTC

July 15th, 2009
12:20 pm

Don’t forget about the “move” we are absolutely going to make. TIM HUDSON will be back in one form or another.

Go Tim!

jimmy

July 15th, 2009
12:20 pm

get a bat,20 out 25 of the top prospects are pitchers

Mark Bradley

July 15th, 2009
12:21 pm

There’s no market for Kotchman. Wish there were.

cgmd

July 15th, 2009
12:25 pm

Kotchman and Medlen for Adrian Gonzalez?

chc4

July 15th, 2009
12:26 pm

If there were a DF (designated fielder) in the AL Kotch would have loads of value!

Atticus

July 15th, 2009
12:28 pm

Mark, one question:

I agree that you don’t trade strength for strength. But why should I trust that the “young guys” will turn out?

This organization has developed one all star (Mac, and I would contest he didn’t need developing) since Chipper came up over ten years ago. Lots of mediocre talent from numerous guys that have been strong in the minors. Schafer and Francoeur are just two examples. ONE all star in almost 15 years. To me, I have no confidence that Freeman or Heyward will take this organization back to the playoffs.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

July 15th, 2009
12:29 pm

This deal would be like trading Scarlett Johanssen for Catherine Zeta-Jones. Sure Scarlett is a pain now and Catherine is more experienced and probably more attractive a couple of years ago but eventually your gonna wish you had went younger and want Scarlett back.

AGTFan

July 15th, 2009
12:37 pm

The Braves should be in listening and waiting mode. Wait and see if Church is really an upgrade. If yes, stand pat. If no, listen to offers for Chipper, Vasquez, Anderson, Lowe, anyone who can bring in good prospects to restock the farm and maybe be competitive again in a few years. When you consider yourself to be competitive because the other teams in your division suck, you’re just fooling yourself. If Church really is an upgrade, then the team as configured might make the playoffs. The quality of the starting pitching means they might stand a chance in a couple playoff series, so you don’t trade anyone. One more player isn’t going to make a difference either way. Don’t deplete the farm for the illusion that they can contend.