His name is Nate McLouth, as in, ‘Get him OUTTA here’

Nate the Great draws a bead. Note that the ball is behind him. (AP photo)

Nate the Great draws a bead on a fly. Note that the ball is in fact behind him. (AP photo)

It’s difficult to hit any worse than .176, but Nate McLouth has done the deed. That skinny number is what he was batting when he went on the disabled list after his noggin clashed with Jason Heyward’s knee. Since returning last week, McLouth is 1-for-15, which represents a Twiggy-like .067.

(And the hit, we should note, was a flare that dropped into right field McLouth’s first game back. That gift should offset the live drive that became a double play Sunday.)

We have seen Braves struggle over the years — Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Yunel Escobar, the legendary Greg Norton — but we have never seen an everyday Brave perform worse than this. Nate McLouth is hitting .168 on the season. He has three home runs, 14 RBIs, four stolen bases. The highest his average has climbed since April 8 is .208.

He wasn’t very good in his half-season as a Brave in 2009 — a .257 average, 11 homers, 36 RBIs — but today the Braves would take that tepid yield and be ecstatic. McLouth has been so bad for so long, starting in spring training and continuing apace, that there’s no cause to believe he is a big-league starter, or even a big-leaguer, any longer.

There were whispers around baseball that the Pirates had noted a decline in McLouth’s skills and were thrilled to unload him before the rest of the sport caught on. If so, that marks the first time in two decades the Bucs have outsmarted somebody. (Not that losing Charlie Morton was any setback.)

The hope when he returned from the DL was that McLouth might get going enough to satisfy the team’s modest requirements in center field. (The Braves don’t need Willie Mays; they just need a guy who’ll hit a little bit and play D, but McLouth, who astonishingly won a Gold Glove in 2008, isn’t  A. Jones with the leather. Or the arm.) Either that, or he’d catch the eye of another team in need of an outfielder. But now the Braves are stuck.

They can’t keep running McLouth out there because he drags down the team, and they can’t trade him because nobody would want him. (Remember when having a former All-Star under contract through 2011 — and with a club option for 2012 — seemed a capital idea?) They can’t promote Jordan Schafer because he just got demoted again, and their most viable trade targets seem to be left fielders.

Unless Frank Wren can swing a trade this week for a real center fielder — B.J. Upton or Matt Kemp — the Braves’ options at the position can be boiled down to two: They can promote Gregor Blanco, who’s back yet again at Gwinnett, or make a deal for a corner outfielder and bump Heyward, who’s a classic right fielder, over to center. Neither is the optimum, but both beat the status quo.

Put simply, Gregor Blanco is a better center fielder right now than Nate McLouth. Heck, Henry Blanco might be a better center fielder than Nate McLouth. And Henry Blanco is a catcher.

727 comments Add your comment

Thekingtata

July 26th, 2010
7:03 am

Thekingtata

July 26th, 2010
7:06 am

and just release McOUT. Bring back Otis Nixon

bad brad

July 26th, 2010
7:16 am

Chuck Dowdle was on the radio this past week saying the Braves are considering trading Medlen to Fla to get Cody Ross. I,for one,would hate to see us lose Medlen. I believe he has years of great pitching in him.

Michael Scharff

July 26th, 2010
7:18 am

I really feel sorry for the guy, and you hate to kick a man when he’s down. Nonetheless, he has got to go. Why not try super-sub Infante in center?

Bob Didier Caught (and slept) here

July 26th, 2010
7:19 am

The only tragedy about all of this is that this article wasn’t written any sooner. How long did it take you to come to this conclusion Mark? I mean that photo pretty much says it all. However, I would be interested in hearing Nate Mc”Out”s take on his playing skills!

cadilac

July 26th, 2010
7:19 am

infante needs to be in the lineup and also give glaus a day off more often; glaus and mcclouth are both hurting our team as of now

bob

July 26th, 2010
7:20 am

Why not send McLouth back to Gwinnett on a rehab assignment for the rest of the year? Maybe he’ll snap out of it. Too bad they didn’t move Kelly Johnson back to the outfield when Prado took over 2nd
base. Never understood that. He was a decent outfielder and could always hit.

Paddy

July 26th, 2010
7:21 am

So Mark, how do you really feel about our center fielder? That was nail on the head time. Bring back Brian Asselstine.

Jesse Stone

July 26th, 2010
7:23 am

You can’t spell Glaus without S-L-U-G. Now, does that describe what he’s supposed to do…or his foot speed?

Roger

July 26th, 2010
7:25 am

Cadilac has it right. Glaus needs a rest every 3 or 4 days, and McLouth is hopeless. Rotate Melky and Omar in center, with Omar spelling Glaus.

bigecarr

July 26th, 2010
7:26 am

Bobby Cox is TOO loyal to veterans, just promote Blanco who was hitting .300 while McCLOUT was down in AAA. Between Diaz , Henske , Melky & Blanco theose four guys combined for the RF & CF
are SO much better than anything Nate can do right now.
Just trade him for garbage or a bucket of balls.
DO NOT MAKE ANY trade for Cody Ross and have to get rid of Medlin.

Chip

July 26th, 2010
7:27 am

It is hard to imagine how a player could perform worse tham McLouth did this weekend at Florida. Saturday he failed to advance runners with a first pitch hack against a pitcher that couldn’t find the strike zone. When he came to the plate with the bases loaded Sunday I hoped he would make just one out int his at-bat, but that proved to be a wee bit optimistic. GO BRAVES!

kbrab

July 26th, 2010
7:28 am

You should realize that DeJesus is out for the year. Wake up Mark.

Mr. Webster

July 26th, 2010
7:29 am

Spell it with me now, M-E-D-L-E-N. There’s no i in Medlen

Mr. Webster

July 26th, 2010
7:30 am

H-I-N-S-K-E. They are OUR players. We should be able to spell their names

Atticus

July 26th, 2010
7:32 am

They should’ve left him down until he showed he was ripping. Send him back down for the year. Don’t trade Medlen for Ross.

Angus

July 26th, 2010
7:32 am

Is Infante’s OF defense that bad?

Bravesbobblehead

July 26th, 2010
7:34 am

I agree, Nate needs to be benched. Yesterday’s game all he had to do was hit the ball to the outfield, a high fly but he hits a line drive double play. Bring Gregor back or platoon Melky. Even coming off the bench to pinch-hit McLouth is a sure out, worst that a pitcher hitting.

Dan Mayfield

July 26th, 2010
7:42 am

need to put infante in center, we get a lot better quickly with that change.

Hunker Down

July 26th, 2010
7:43 am

Agree Michael give Infante a shot to play center

Herschel Talker

July 26th, 2010
7:44 am

MB:

Yesterday was Cox’s fault. Pinch running for Hinske, thereby leaving McLouth in the 3 hole was completely inexcusable. If you’re going to get McLouth in the lineup, which as you say is a big if, there is no excuse for putting him in #3. Let’s see you justify that move by Bobby.

HT

mountain_jim

July 26th, 2010
7:45 am

Agree with all here. If Bobby won’t demote him, Heyward needs to run into him again.

Just get him out. (and i was rooting for hime to come back and have fixed himself.)

Mr. Webster

July 26th, 2010
7:47 am

At that point in the game, it doesn’t matter what spot in the lineup he bats. It was not inexcusable to bring mcClouth in the game at that point. His speed is much better than Hinske’s. This game should’ve never gotten to the 11th. Glaus is just as guilty as McClouth.

ATLfan15

July 26th, 2010
7:52 am

Please (PLEASE!!) don’t give up Medlen for Cody Ross. I realize we need another OF, but sending Blanco back down to Gwinnett was the dumbest thing I have ever seen; the man was hitting over .300 before he got demoted for a guy who has only gotten over the Mendoza line once this year…ONCE!!

Agree with Herschel Talker: yesterday was Cox’s fault and the team paid the price. Lost the game AND the series.

BRING BACK BLANCO!!
(now say that five times real fast…LOL)

robdawg08

July 26th, 2010
7:53 am

Totally a worthless player. His hitting skills have vanished. But the great Bobby Cox sticks him right back into CF…
Heyward can play CF. Go get the hitter you want regardless where he plays in the OF. Don’t settle for C.Ross (average at best).

Glaus should be replaced as well.

Herschel Talker

July 26th, 2010
7:56 am

Mr. Webster:

Yes, Glaus is at fault also. But do a risk-reward analysis. For the extra 2 feet you may get on the basepaths by pinch running McLouth, now you’re stuck with him in the 3 hole. You like that tradeoff? That’s just silly.

HT

hatfieldgeoff

July 26th, 2010
7:56 am

Mark, I agree. McLouth is killing us. He blew an RBI opportunity on Saturday and we were fortunate to come back and win. Sunday, bases loaded one out and he hits into a double play. We would be much better with Blanco out there. He is having a pretty good season and his speed would help alot. As far as McLouth’s skills eroding maybe but a guy his age doesn’t drop from .276 to .168 in less than 2 years just because of age and eroding skills. I am afraid we have to chalk another one up to our hitting coach who doesn’t seem to be able to help anybody. We always hear how McDowell works with our pitchers and help them refine mechanics and get better but you don’t hear that about our hitters. No with hitters they can either hit when they get here or they don’t develop. Surely talk of Pendleton as manager is just lip service (Shouldn’t a future major league manager be managing somewhere? As for McLouth, bench him for sure and release him if you have a better option in Gwinnett.

Me

July 26th, 2010
7:57 am

It took four years of Prado batting .300 in a backup role before he got a chance to play everyday. Why do we have to keep watching Infante sit on the bench with his .300-plus average?

Marty Keough

July 26th, 2010
7:59 am

So, Mark, you commented last week that the reason the Braves were not pitching Kawakami under any circumstances was that they were trying to win. Valid point, but it begs the question – why is McLouth still playing?

Mr. Webster

July 26th, 2010
8:01 am

HT- It’s a lot more than 2 feet. It may be the difference between sending a runner to score and holding him at 3rd. AGAIN, the game should’ve been over before the 11th and McClouth would’ve been a defensive replacement. Bobby Cox was depending on Glaus to get a run in, but he grounds into a 5-4-3.

Dumbo

July 26th, 2010
8:01 am

MB…we agree McOut or is it McLout, oh, whatever, has got to go.

Rich

July 26th, 2010
8:03 am

McLouth and Kawakami – over 12 million dollars in salary – nice work, Frank

Mr. Webster

July 26th, 2010
8:04 am

Me- Martin wasn’t a backup for 4 years, and his first MLB .300 season was ‘08.

moorman

July 26th, 2010
8:05 am

trade him to the mets for jeff francouer, one problem for another, lol.

BB's

July 26th, 2010
8:05 am

I don’t want to pile on the man. He seems to be a nice person. But at 51, I think I could get him out with my overhand curveball. I am ready to turn off the TV every time he comes to bat with baserunners. And it seems he is ALWAYS the next batter when the Braves have something going. I don’t care what we do, as long as Nate McLouth is playing for Gwinnett, Mississipi, or Outer Mongolias in the near future.

moorman

July 26th, 2010
8:05 am

oh, and glaus aint done nothing in over a month either.

Mr. Webster

July 26th, 2010
8:06 am

We will probably have to pay part of his salary and just trade him for a PTBNL

Brandon

July 26th, 2010
8:06 am

guys, blanco was hitting .300 before he left, but he was 3 years ago and then fell off in the last 2 monthes. if we can make a move to improve our team, i don’t want that decision to hinge on rather or not gregor blanco is the answer. medlen should be on the untouchable list. who is going to be the 5th starter if we trade him? kawakami? i would rather continue playing with nate in center field.

Tim

July 26th, 2010
8:06 am

I was unable to watch the game live, but using mlb.com to “watch” those last few innings. I commented to a friend that McClouth was up with the bases loaded and one out and if he hit into a double play, that might be the last straw for the Braves. The next refresh told the story of the double play. I didn’t know it was a line drive. Tough break for Nate. But, still the last straw for me. And, I hope for the Braves. I was at the game Wednesday night sitting in the left-center field seats and watched turn his back on a long fly ball that became a double. It sure did seem like a catchable ball that he gave up on too early. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on that one since he was down on the field, but it sure did raise some eyebrows of the folks around me.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

July 26th, 2010
8:08 am

agreed, nate needs to go. if we package him and a few minors, we could get someone decent. hated to lose that series, so many wasted opportunities.

TommyJack

July 26th, 2010
8:08 am

I like Bobby. But his use of McLouth lately is beyond puzzling. I hear a collective groan from fans when Nate takes the plate. The man can’t even get the ball outta da infield.
No on the Ross guy from the Fish.

robdawg08

July 26th, 2010
8:09 am

Sad part is Frank let Kelly Johnson leave and he could play LF and have been the bat they need now. This rag-tag bunch of OF’s will cost the Braves in October. Once Diaz goes cold then you’ve only got Heyward to count on. Trade some of that young pitching in the minors to win right now. Go get a bonafide OF. What about Nick Markakis in Baltimore ?

milesarcher33

July 26th, 2010
8:09 am

C’mon guys and gals, lighten up. Nate is a great player and has been and will be again one of the premier lead off hitters in baseball. He’s definitely swinging the bat with more authority than he did before the injury. His bat speed is good. For some reason or another, the hits are not dropping in. Give him time, play him every day, let him lead off and he will be fine. His defense will improve as his hitting improves. I still like him. Also, don’t trade for Cody Ross. Once McClouth gets going, he’ll br alot better than Ross ever will be.

robdawg08

July 26th, 2010
8:11 am

miles needs checking for retardation…

Jesse Stone

July 26th, 2010
8:11 am

A lot of you are saying no on Ross, but I don’t think you’ve seen him play that much. He is a good CF that will bat .275 or so and give you 20-25 HRs. I am not against trading for him because I don’t think he’s good enough. I just don’t want to give a division rival anything of value.

Scott

July 26th, 2010
8:11 am

How many crappy pirates have we taken and they flame out here. Stop taking players from the crappiest team in baseball. Gosh a top chef at a top restaurant doesn’t go to eat at mcdonalds.

mwh6767

July 26th, 2010
8:11 am

I agree its time for Nate to go bye-bye. Bring Blanco back platoon him and Melky in center. Those guys may not be the second coming of andruw in his prime but they are solid. Heck I didn’t think Melky did a bad filling in for Nate. Someone correct my if im wrong but I seem to remember Hinske giving Glaus a break at first every now and then during the first part of the season. Am I right about that? If so I wonder why this isn’t happening more. Hinske looks fresh, ready to play and he plays with passion. Glaus looks like he is ready for the glue factory. Platoon Diaz and Hinske. Platoon Blanco and Melky. And let Hinske spell Glaus. Infante is your super-sub for anybody in the infield and you bring Conrad in as your first pinch-hit option.

Herschel Talker

July 26th, 2010
8:12 am

Mr. Webster:

You still don’t get it. You are looking at what you gain in isolation, without looking at what you lose. None of us think Hinske is a better runner than McLouth. The point is that for that one trip around the bases, it costs you Hinske in the 3 hole, replaced with McLouth. That is a stupid tradeoff, plain and simple. Regardless of Glaus sucking or any other reason the game should have been done at that point, points on which I don’t disagree with you, you don’t make the Hinske/McLouth tradeoff at that time. Period.

HT

JDSU

July 26th, 2010
8:13 am

Miles you moron he was playing every day. That’s why he’s batting an unbeklievable .167. You must be some friend of his. He SUCKS and any business, you fire the employees bringing you down. He’s cost us several games with his pathetic play. Good riddance McOut.

robdawg08

July 26th, 2010
8:14 am

It was McLouth,Glaus,and Melky sucking in April and its now the three of them sucking again in July…