The trade deadline nears. Will Braves GM Wren pay the piper?

Mike Minor could be the key man in a major Braves' move. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Mike Minor could be the key man in a major move. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Look on the bright side. If you have to put your catcher and your center fielder on the disabled list, better to do it four days before the trading deadline than four days after. Right?

“You didn’t give me the alternative of not putting anybody on the disabled list,” Fredi Gonzalez said, speaking before his Braves played the second leg of their odd Wednesday doubleheader. (The first part ended at 1:50 a.m.) But the DL has become to the Braves as the Downtown Connector is to the Georgia DOT — a place of high occupancy and much consternation.

Among other developments over the course of 19 innings Tuesday-into-Wednesday, the Braves lost their best player. Brian McCann went on the DL with what we like to call Braves Syndrome — a tweaked oblique. Jordan Schafer, who got plunked in the left forearm in the 11th inning, was disabled with a broken left index finger. (”Needs to take the target off his left arm,” Gonzalez said.)

Complicating matters, Chipper Jones remained unavailable to do more than pinch-hit Wednesday night, and Jason Heyward, who was hitting .222, didn’t start because the Pirates were deploying left-hander Paul Maholm. This was the Braves’ starting outfield: Martin Prado, who’d gone 0-for-9 over the 19 innings; Nate McLouth, who was hitting the McLouthian .228, and Wilkin Ramirez, just up from Gwinnett. Batting cleanup for your Atlanta Braves: Dan Uggla, just now nuzzling up to .200.

The belief before those 19 innings was that general manager Frank Wren would make some manner of major trade ahead of the deadline. That belief is now a raging conviction. But doesn’t the knowledge that the Braves are without McCann complicate matters?

“Obviously it changes things a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “I think we were going to try to improve our club no matter what — even if Mac hadn’t gotten hurt. Now maybe the asking price just got a little higher.”

Did it? Said Wren: “It’s not as if he’s out for the year. If that was the case, things might be different. But for what we’re trying to do, the dynamics haven’t changed.”

A day that began with plate umpire Jerry Meals making a lousy call that became the buzz of the sports world remained frazzled throughout. (The Braves would win Wednesday night in a scant 10 innings, amassing two runs on 14 hits.) Colby Rasmus, identified by some as a person of interest to the Braves, was shipped to Toronto by St. Louis. Various reports held that Carlos Beltran, seen as the biggest of available names, was headed to the Giants, who might again play here in the Division Series.

It had been reported by Buster Olney of ESPN that the Braves removed themselves from the Beltran bidding by refusing to part with any of their four top pitching prospects — Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado. Was that indeed the case?

Said Wren: “We’re not going to trade those guys for a short-term fix. That really doesn’t make sense. Those are premium-type prospects.”

Such a hard line makes sense — in theory. Beltran will become a free agent at season’s end and is represented by the dreaded Scott Boras. If the Braves are going to deal a Minor or a Delgado (or both), in a perfect world it would be for a guy like Houston’s Hunter Pence, who fills a need, makes reasonable money and is under contract through 2013. That said …

When you look on this lineup, you see, shall we say, imperfection. The scary part is that Uggla has hit in 18 consecutive games and raised his average, at least for a couple of innings, above the Mendoza Line, and still the Braves are hitting under .240. And that was with McCann having an MVP-type season. What happens these next few weeks?

“We’d like to improve our team,” Wren said, and the proper adjustments could make this club, which is on pace to win 93 games, a world champion. But those adjustments could come at a hefty price. As much as baseball are loath to part with young pitching, sometimes it’s the only way.

We’ll know soon enough if this GM is willing to ante up. The guess here: He’s willing, and he will.

By Mark Bradley

261 comments Add your comment

urban redneck

July 27th, 2011
8:40 pm

Bill

July 27th, 2011
8:41 pm

Yes, I believe Wren will step up and get the job done…

curtisjones

July 27th, 2011
8:43 pm

My guess is Wren will confound the experts and pull off a major deal. I think there will be a name or two that have not been tweeted around the world. I think you’ll also see a left-side infielder in the mix. That’s my guess and I’m sticking with it.

Bill

July 27th, 2011
8:44 pm

Pence, Bourn, Adam Jones, Upton….for the long run…

Sonny Clusters

July 27th, 2011
8:44 pm

Piper paying can be very costly. Still, the way they are stranding runners they need somebody with a bat.

JoshTown

July 27th, 2011
8:45 pm

I’m for it. Gotta break some eggs to make lemonade. I think.

Mark Bradley

July 27th, 2011
8:45 pm

I’m just not sure B.J. Upton qualifies as a big bat anymore. He’s hitting what McLouth is, give or take.

Lebrick

July 27th, 2011
8:49 pm

Trade someone for one of the Cubs bats…Soriano, Ramirez, or Fukudome…all of them are upgrades

Bill

July 27th, 2011
8:51 pm

Mark, agree his BA is down but 15 homers 56 rbi, 48 runs better than the three Braves OF’ers.

Mark Bradley

July 27th, 2011
8:53 pm

Soriano makes a ton of money. He’s no option

bravos007

July 27th, 2011
8:53 pm

no offense Mark, but pay the piper with what? are you referring to money? you do realize the braves are strapped and have several players coming up for arbitration, right? the reoccurring theme of “trade baby trade” being put forth by the AJC on a daily, if not hourly basis, is a little predictable for a media outlet.

tybeedawg

July 27th, 2011
8:53 pm

….and next in line is Upton…not sure we need him. The one SURE braves quality is chemistry. I am ok with Wren’s patience and reasoning thus far….i am just hopeful he is being more discreet than inactive..or closed minded. Time to get a bat and an arm. San Diego package?

Barry Watson

July 27th, 2011
8:53 pm

No. Once again the braves will sit on their hands and wait for an underachiever to come up from the minor leagues. The deadline will be gone and one of these pitchers will come up and do nothing. Way to go frank.

Bill

July 27th, 2011
8:54 pm

Soriano and Fukudome is way to high…Ramirez hell yes…

G

July 27th, 2011
8:55 pm

Why do you think Wren will do something? He hasn’t in the past. All he has done is make some bad trades and signings of guys. Kawakami – no, Lowe – no, Derek Lee – no, Glaus – no, Uggla – not really… The guy will go out and get some Greg Norton type and tell us all about how we are set for the future with 10 starting pitchers…

Max Sizemore

July 27th, 2011
8:55 pm

I can’t believe those who are advocating giving up young pitching are failing to consider that Hanson and Jurrgens are both gone in a couple of years. Add to that the injuries that pitchers often have, and it’s easy to understand why “you can never have enough pitching.”

Sage of Bluesland

July 27th, 2011
8:55 pm

Stop listening to these journalists–and remember the Texeira fleecing.

No thanks to short-term rentals at such high costs.

Laughable, really.

Mike

July 27th, 2011
8:57 pm

Id like to see Omar Infante back again. That is a very realisitic amd doable move. And then another arm in the bullpen would be nice.

tybeedawg

July 27th, 2011
8:57 pm

i have been refreshing the mlbtraderumors.com page every 15 minutes all day long…..yeesh!

Mike

July 27th, 2011
8:58 pm

@tybee: same here. For the past month.

PMC

July 27th, 2011
8:58 pm

Excelsior, a leadoff hit in the 6th!!!

Bill

July 27th, 2011
8:58 pm

Fukudoma is also 15 million year.

JohnGTFan

July 27th, 2011
8:58 pm

Pence will end up in Philadelphia, probably before the end of tonight. I don’t think Wren will ante up as you suggest. I’d love to be wrong, but I don’t see it happening. And if he’s not careful, the Band-aid Braves are going to miss out on the wild card. I see Hunter Pence as almost their only option. If he doesn’t ante up for him, Quentin would be ok as would Ludwick, but neither the player that Pence is. But again, I think he’s a Phillie tonight.

SB75

July 27th, 2011
8:59 pm

Yes Upton would bee an upgrade! Better than McLouth defensively and has more hr power, not to mention he’s getting ready to head in a contract year next year. If a trade for Upton is made, we will get the very best he has to give. He wants a fat contract like everybody else.

Bill

July 27th, 2011
9:01 pm

You would have BJ till 2013 but he will get ARbitration those years..

todd grantham

July 27th, 2011
9:02 pm

Mark, the Braves CAN hit. Just not in a sequence that scores runs.

Bill

July 27th, 2011
9:03 pm

Mark..Who would you go after if you were the GM?

todd grantham

July 27th, 2011
9:03 pm

When Dan Uggla is 2 for 2 then somebody else ought to be hitting the pitcher.

Mark Bradley

July 27th, 2011
9:04 pm

I think the Braves are going to go hard at Pence.

todd grantham

July 27th, 2011
9:05 pm

now Danny Boy is 3 for 3. Oh danny boy, the pipes are calling

todd grantham

July 27th, 2011
9:06 pm

from glen to glen… or maybe from wren to wren.

jb

July 27th, 2011
9:06 pm

told g, have you looked at the players ba lately..how low can u go!

JohnGTFan

July 27th, 2011
9:06 pm

Mark, they SHOULD be…but are they doing it hard ENOUGH?

Bill

July 27th, 2011
9:07 pm

Man, I hope they do..if they get Pence I’ll buy you a steak..

bravos007

July 27th, 2011
9:09 pm

guess the next couple of days will now be about pence and how the braves should trade 5-10 people for him.

JohnGTFan

July 27th, 2011
9:09 pm

The Phillies are going to offer a lot…Braves better offer more.

bad brad

July 27th, 2011
9:09 pm

I say give McLouth away; wimpy arm, low on mental intelligence; re: throws consistently to wrong base, overthrows cut off man, gets thrown out for arguing strikes when team is short-handed. How smart is this guy? I’m saying not very. He ole’d a ball the other night and skipped (yes skipped) after it. I’ve seen enough of this one.

Mark Bradley

July 27th, 2011
9:10 pm

Not sure anyone would take Nate.

JohnGTFan

July 27th, 2011
9:10 pm

Pence should have been no.1 on Braves radar from the start…very good all around player and under control thru 2013…no brainer

todd grantham

July 27th, 2011
9:11 pm

Not Teddy Ballgame and his .406. Maybe McLouth and .249 first.

bad brad

July 27th, 2011
9:11 pm

Get rid of McLouth. Throws consistently to wrong base; overthrows cutoff man, gets tossed arguing strike call when we are short. How smart is he? I’m saying not very. Better off without him.

Bill

July 27th, 2011
9:11 pm

Houston has all ready turn Phillies down..per ESpN Insider..Braves are talking now with Astros.

bad brad

July 27th, 2011
9:12 pm

Sorry, didnt realize first post made it. Just dropped off there for a minute.

todd grantham

July 27th, 2011
9:12 pm

or “anyone would not take Nate”. means the same but more grammatically correct.

bad brad

July 27th, 2011
9:12 pm

Agreed Mark, so why do we keep him. Release him as he is costing us games. Even Joe Simpson has taken to pointing out how he is costing us runs.

Bill

July 27th, 2011
9:13 pm

Nates pretty smart he gets 6 million a year for that.. bad brad.

Robbie

July 27th, 2011
9:13 pm

Tell me again, do the Braves have a hitting coach? If so, what is his name and does he make an appearance in the dugout?

todd grantham

July 27th, 2011
9:13 pm

are we in a time warp here?

bad brad

July 27th, 2011
9:14 pm

On a bright note; it is getting late in the game and Chip hasnt complained about the time or how long the game is taking. He’s another one that should be gone. One of the greatest jobs around and he is constantly bitchin about it.

todd grantham

July 27th, 2011
9:15 pm

grammer, Mark. Grammer. Just like my first grade teacher tought me when i was reading War and Peace.