Will the Braves’ Wren make another deal? And should he?

Boy, did I not like this transaction. But that one worked out. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

Boy, did I not like this transaction. But it worked it, didn't it? (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

We can assume Frank Wren will make another deal these next two weeks because that’s what Frank Wren does: He always makes another deal. In 2009 he made three major in-season trades. Last winter Wren was a hummingbird of activity: Signing Billy Wagner and Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske and Takashi Saito, trading Javier Vazquez and Rafael Soriano. In all of sports, there’s no more aggressive general manager.

Knowing this, we can speculate that Wren, who last week made a big deal involving shortstops, isn’t yet done. If the regular season ended today, the Braves would be division champs and Wren would be the 2010 executive of the year, but there are two-plus months to go (and then October). And the GM who made trade upon trade last summer when his team was scrambling to contend isn’t apt to rest with his club five games in front.

So: We expect another trade, and not for an infielder or a reliever, and the Braves’ rotation is good enough to get them to October. (And in October the rotations shrink.) That leaves the outfield, where only Jason Heyward is a given and where even Heyward is no longer a lock to be rookie of the year.

Nate McLouth should  return from the disabled list this week, but before he was concussed McLouth was hitting .176 with three homers and 14 RBI’s. Melky Cabrera has spent the season convincing us he was as advertised when the Vazquez deal was made — a fourth outfielder. Hinske was terrific when the Braves reinvented themselves in May, but he hasn’t been as good since. Matt Diaz has hit like crazy since coming off the DL but remains a right-handed platoon man, and how many lefties will the Braves see?

Will Wren make another trade?

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We’ve spent the past month pondering possible targets: Cody Ross of Florida, Josh Willingham of Washington, Corey Hart of Milwaukee, even B.J. Upton of Tampa Bay or the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp. Hart would be the most expensive of the left-field lot — he has 22 homers and 70 RBIs — and would surely force the Braves to trade one of their top young pitchers. (Perhaps not Julio Teheran or Arodys Vizcaino, but surely Kris Medlen or Mike Minor.) And Hart is due to become a free agent after the 2011 season.

So are Willingham and Ross. Of the two, Willingham is having the better year. But would Willingham, who’s hitting .276 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs, be a clear upgrade over the Diaz/Hinske tandem?

Should Wren make another trade?

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Center field is the greater need, and center fielders are hard to find. I suggested Upton a while back because he’s an underperforming major talent, but a team that just rid itself of Yunel Escobar mightn’t be in the market for another such enigma. Kemp has likewise had issues in L.A. And the Dodgers, who stand fourth in the NL West and rank 12 in the National League in team ERA, would surely demand two young arms.

That said, the Braves just dealt a 27-year-old shortstop for one six years older, a clear signal that this GM is in it to win it. The Braves aren’t going to part with Teheran, who some consider the best pitcher in the minor leagues, for anything, but if it came down to Medlen and Vizcaino and/or Minor for Kemp, would you do it? (I wouldn’t, but I hate trading young pitchers. I remember Adam Wainwright. And so do you.)

There’s also this consideration: The Braves are a remarkably happy bunch. Is the risk of another major trade worth the possible effect on communal harmony? As Tim Hudson said Sunday: “I don’t think anybody looks at us as a super team with mind-blowing talent, but with everyone pulling together we’re pretty darn good.”

And they are. And that’s why I can’t see Wren, his impulses notwithstanding, taking a major risk. I can’t imagine the architect of this darn good team doing anything to undercut his work now. I can see another trade happening, but I’m thinking it will be more a tweak than a blockbuster.

306 comments Add your comment

moriler

July 19th, 2010
1:00 pm

FIRST! …i always wanted to do that. i feel lame.

Scott W.

July 19th, 2010
1:02 pm

I don’t think it’s needed. Also who would take McLouth Or Cabrera? Just leave Diaz in and keep using Hinske.

moriler

July 19th, 2010
1:02 pm

that said: while the temptation is there to make another trade, there simply isn’t a position where I’d make a trade right now. as Frank Wren, all my guys are in good shape both in the field and on the bench. I don’t need relievers and I don’t need starting pitching. The weakest slot is centerfield (as you note) but I get McLouth back for free soon and it’s not like Blanco hasn’t been doing just fine now that he’s finally figured out to be a contact hitter.

So do I want to make a trade? Of course. But I still probably don’t.

UGASUCKS

July 19th, 2010
1:04 pm

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Roy Harris. Roy Harris said: RT @MarkBradleyAJC As threatened, here's my post: Will the #Braves' Frank Wren make another trade? Should he? http://bit.ly/dCTYRk [...]

Bruce Mac

July 19th, 2010
1:05 pm

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
1:05 pm

Don’t feel bad, moriler. Feel kudo-ed.

wawel78

July 19th, 2010
1:05 pm

I have a bad feeling that if they pull a trade, Diaz will be part of the package. He’s my favorite brave so I would hate to see him go.

Bruce Mac

July 19th, 2010
1:06 pm

UGA might suck in your opinion but you are lame and that is no longer just an opinion, idiot.

This is our YEAR of WS Champs!

July 19th, 2010
1:07 pm

I remember meeting Wainwright @ spring practice at Disney…next thing I know …he was traded….and I cant remember who for? Big Bad Trade John S.

ATL Fan

July 19th, 2010
1:08 pm

I expect that we will hear something late today or early tomorrow about the Brewers and Braves making a trade. Since today is an off day, the Brewers get another day of production.

Nathan

July 19th, 2010
1:08 pm

I don’t see another big move imminent. I think he may do something to tweak a particular area, but no blockbusters on the horizon. The promise shown in Medlen and our other top young arms seem like too much to part with in the long run. I like our ball club much more than I have liked any of the recent ones, dating back to the early 2000s.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 19th, 2010
1:09 pm

Kemp talent wise is the one to go after, but the Braves will not be able to afford him after ‘11. The Braves cannot give up two elite prospect arms for Kemp, who when eligible will command a 100 million dollar contract.

Kelly Johnson Fan Club

July 19th, 2010
1:09 pm

I agree, no need to part with guys like Teheran, Vizcaino, Randall Delgado, Minor, Robinson Lopez, or even the younger pitching prospects like Carlos Perez, Ernesto Silva, and Eduardo Castillo. Team’s probably good enough as is, keep the high ceiling arms.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 19th, 2010
1:09 pm

MB, I’m back! Well, I’ve always been here but I’ve been spectating for a while. I hope Wren doesn’t look to make another trade. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I was happy to see Yunel go, but even I was nervous about messing with team dynamic. Even when McLouth was there, he wasn’t really there and we’re still doing all right. Let’s leave things how they are for now.

Bruce Mac

July 19th, 2010
1:10 pm

Wainwight traded for JD Drew of all people. That is not as bad as the Tex trade. One player on loan that accomplished nothing for two all stars. We don’t need no stinkin trade. Especially for Minor or Medlin. Are you flippin crazy?

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
1:10 pm

Hey, Mrs. C.B. I’ve missed you.

Pi$$onaDawg

July 19th, 2010
1:11 pm

Are you getting that 1991 feeling right about now? I hope the Braves make the right choices if some trades do happen. The Braves have been fun to watch so I hope thy don’t mess up a good thing.

912 Dawg

July 19th, 2010
1:11 pm

@Mark Bradley, Can you please tell me the situation on Brent Clevlen? Is he still hurt?

Hawaii Braves Fan

July 19th, 2010
1:12 pm

It was Wainwright for JD Drew…still hurts.

TommyP

July 19th, 2010
1:12 pm

I feel like I wrote THIS article. It’s almost a duplicate of my response this morning on the other blog.

And YES….Willingham would be a significant upgrade to our OF.

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
1:13 pm

He’s still on the DL, 912 Dawg. (Sprained toe.) But I saw him taking batting practice Sunday.

B ball Barney

July 19th, 2010
1:16 pm

No immediate trades but watch for Wren to soon fly to Florida to work on what will be a much heralded trade. Mark already knows what I’m talking about.

JaxDawg

July 19th, 2010
1:17 pm

As much as I love what we got going on right now in terms of chemistry, I think we will need another big bat come September and October. I guarantee that the Phillies will make a strong run once they get that formidable lineup healthy. We could use a young, run-producing power-hitting left-fielder, such as Corey Hart, and I think we have the assets to aquire one without it being a “going for broke”-type deal. We’d still have a lot in the bank.

J-Man

July 19th, 2010
1:18 pm

Well the lesson learned is that if you trade high level prospects you better resign the player you traded for. Thats what made the Wainwright-Drew and the Tex deals so bad is that we didnt resign them or even try to resign them.

912 Dawg

July 19th, 2010
1:18 pm

Thanks Mark. I think the Braves will make a trade but i don’t know if they should. I’ve been hearing less about Hart and more about Ross or Willingham as targets. If the Braves make a deal, i hope they don’t give up any young promising pitchers

matt r

July 19th, 2010
1:19 pm

I think it is time for the annual Braves trade for Greg Colbrunn

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
1:20 pm

Greg Colbrunn, matt r? Sure you don’t mean Greg Norton?

Tyrone Willingham

July 19th, 2010
1:21 pm

No, TommyP, I wouldn’t.

Playoffs!?!?

July 19th, 2010
1:22 pm

This is good enough as it is to win the division.
However, to go far in playoffs–we MUST make a trade for another bat- a righthanded hitting outfielder. Sure we have very good pitching, but every team in the playoffs has very good pitching. It is not good enough anymore to just make the playoffs. We need to get to the Series and hopefully win it.
A franchise that is only 1 for its last 14 needs to make the extra trade. We can’t let this opportunity slip by!

Nova Scotia Steve

July 19th, 2010
1:23 pm

Hey Mark,

Good read. It’s certainly what all Braves fans are thinking about this days and has sparked some major (heated) debate on the AJC blogs.

I’d like to see another deal cause i think out offense needs a little boost. However, Matt Diaz is the “Hittin Fool” these days and I’m ready to give McLouth another shot when he comes of the DL on Tuesday.

So i’ll hang on another week or two before i will commit either way. I’ll take the Frank Wren approach.

Custer

July 19th, 2010
1:23 pm

A Braves utility infielder by the name of Randy Johnson once injured himself putting on his socks.

It's a shame what he did to that dog

July 19th, 2010
1:24 pm

We need a big bat, plain and simple.

Carl Crawford would be my first choice but he’s expensive.

“The Braves aren’t going to part with Teheran”

Since when did the Braves do biz with Iran? OH, my bad, thought you wrote TEHRAN. Sorry.

Wren Hater

July 19th, 2010
1:25 pm

The 2010 Braves, as of Late July, do not need “another bat.”

They just need C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-C-Y out of the ones they already have.

(Specifically looking at you #1 Catcher and #1 3rd Baseman!)

FalconUGAFan

July 19th, 2010
1:25 pm

Did you guys see Escobar hit a grand slam and is hitting .426 since joining Toronto? Think he is motivated now?

Hankie Aron

July 19th, 2010
1:25 pm

Mark,
Nice article, I think the Braves would not have to give up too much for Willingham as opposed to giving up a ton for Hart. And Willingham is an upgrade

Joey

July 19th, 2010
1:25 pm

@ B Ball Barney, Fill the rest of us in…..

Nova Scotia Steve

July 19th, 2010
1:25 pm

And all i know is you have to give to get. So Braves fans who are prospect happy be prepared to give up some talent for a guy like Willingham or DeJesus.

And if it was for one or the other – i’d be okay with parting with one of our minor league rich pitching prospects.

Jt

July 19th, 2010
1:26 pm

I hope he stands pat. It ain’t broke right now, so I hope he doesn’t try to fix it. I think much of the success from Hinske, Melky, and now Diaz is due to the fact that they get regular playing time and someone like Ross, Willingham, or Hart would change that. And you are right, center field is the area of concern, but I tell you, with Prado handling lead off duties at a high level, a bottom of the order centerfielder will work- and I think Melky and Blanco can handle those duties. I am concerned about McLouth’s return- he has not performed well enough to warrant making room on the roster for him.

Hopefully, Wren will hold his hand, wait for the river card and take the pot. This team has pitching aplenty and with contact hitters that work the count and hit with RISP, I would ride this hand all the way to the end.

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
1:28 pm

I’m not sure where DeJesus would play.

andy

July 19th, 2010
1:28 pm

Mark, we shouldve just dealt for willingham and left ss alone. Let’s compare gonzalez`s obp and escobar`s obp at season end. I’d bet big money that esco is at or near his career obp of .368 and gonzalez will stay at his career obp of .300. Not good

CSpin

July 19th, 2010
1:29 pm

Frank Wren, for the win.

Hankie Aron

July 19th, 2010
1:30 pm

If I was Wren I would be very cautious for 2 reasons. Team Chemistry and Memory of the Clunker Teixiera Trade. That said I think Willingham is the right choice because of his power.He yelled at me for asking for his autograph when he was with the Marlins, but I am since over it.

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
1:31 pm

The Escobar-for-Gonzalez trade had nothing to do with talent and little to do with numbers. It was about professionalism.

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
1:32 pm

There’s no chance the Braves are going to unleash another Teixeira trade, Hankie Aaron.

dap01

July 19th, 2010
1:34 pm

Don’t get Hart. He is difficult to even look at.

Donny Corleone

July 19th, 2010
1:34 pm

Win it or lose it with what ya got.

Scott

July 19th, 2010
1:35 pm

Bear in mind, if you trade Minor, he is the only lefty in the group mentioned above. Would rather trade Vizcaino and Hoover or Beachy than let Minor go.

GTSteve

July 19th, 2010
1:35 pm

“Did you guys see Escobar hit a grand slam and is hitting .426 since joining Toronto? Think he is motivated now?”

Just proves the problem was mental\attitude and not physical…he would have never improved here

RomeDawg

July 19th, 2010
1:36 pm

Keep in mind, for every Wainwright there is a Morton, Marte, and Betemit. My point being, potential doesn’t always pan out. If you’ve got someone who can step in right now and produce, in Cox’s last year, you gotta take the chance. If you trade Teheran, you better get something special back, not just a “solid” outfielder.

Send Cox out a winner. Win one for the Gipper! …or should I say Skipper?