Braves trade! Braves trade! And it’s a pretty darned good one!

After midnight, Frank Wren briefs the still-assembled media. (Photo by M. Bradley)

After midnight, GM Frank Wren briefs the still-assembled media. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Well, the Braves landed a Cub after all. Two of them, in fact, neither being Ryan Dempster. But enough about him.

Just after midnight, the Braves announced they had acquired Paul Maholm, a left-handed starting pitcher, and Reed Johnson, a right-handed bat. Johnson will definitely help a bench that needs all the help it can get. Maholm can’t possibly hurt a rotation that wasn’t exactly brimming with excellence.

Maholm isn’t a No. 1 starter, but he was 9-6 with an ERA of 3.74 for a terrible team, and he has been really good of late: Over his past six starts, he has yielded one run at most. By way of contrast, Mike Minor is 6-7 with an ERA of 5.18, and Tommy Hanson, who’s 12-5, has an ERA of 4.29. Immediately after Hanson beat the Marlins on Monday, manager Fredi Gonzalez suggested the pitcher might need to skip a turn, which isn’t the most heartfelt vote of confidence.

Let’s be clear: This trade doesn’t transform the Braves — getting Zack Greinke would have transformed them — but it solidifies them for the remainder of the regular season and gives them choices should they make the playoffs, which they absolutely should. It’s not a move on the level of Fred McGriff in 1993 or even Michael Bourn last season or (gulp) Mark Teixeira in 2007, but it’s a needs-based trade made by a determined general manager whose first choice (Dempster) wouldn’t sanction the transaction.

Give Wren credit. He went back to the Cubs and found Theo Epstein willing to keep talking. (”We never blamed them for [Dempster's demurral],” Wren said.) Getting Dempster would have cost Randall Delgado. Getting Maholm and Johnson cost Jaye Chapman, which is no big deal, and Arodys Vizcaino, who has been the most tantalizing of the Braves’ four prized young arms. (The other two being Minor and Julio Teheran.)

Vizcaino, who’s 21, throws the hardest of all, but he underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the season. And yet: Before Monday’s game, Gonzalez was speaking of Ben Sheets actually gaining velocity after the TJ treatment. “Guys usually do,” Gonzalez said. “Can’t wait to see Vizcaino.”

The next time the Braves see Vizcaino, he’ll be a Cub. It hurts to lose an arm like that, but you that’s the price of doing business. The Braves had clear and immediate needs. Their GM has moved to fill those needs. Maybe this will work. Maybe it won’t. But it was a trade that had to be made.

“This was a perfect fit for us,” Wren said, and also this: “We wanted to put ourselves in as good a position as we can to win the division — not just make the playoffs.”

For sure, the Braves are better positioned today than they were at 7 p.m. Monday. Their rotation is deeper and better, and their bench is longer. They got an outfielder Wren called “the No. 1 [utility] guy on our board” and a starter who should push Kris Medlen back to the bullpen and perhaps ease the underwhelming Hanson out of any October starts.

Wren again: “What really pushed us [to make such a trade] is the way we’ve played the last three weeks.”

The season’s first half ended with the Braves feeling they hadn’t played to capacity. They’ve gotten closer since, and Maholm and Johnson should push them closer still. This is not a team to dismiss, ladies and gentlemen. This is a team that can get to October and stay there a while.

By Mark Bradley

170 comments Add your comment

Grandma Giffin

July 31st, 2012
12:38 am

Mark Bradley

July 31st, 2012
12:39 am

daviddadams

July 31st, 2012
12:40 am

BW

July 31st, 2012
12:40 am

Hate to lose Vizcaino…I was looking forward to his return but the team has improved itself without gouging itself.

daviddadams

July 31st, 2012
12:41 am

when do u think maholm gets his first start?

bravesfan2008

July 31st, 2012
12:43 am

Do you see the Braves will make a trade for a RP to solidify an already good BP. An arm like Gregerson or League would be nice.

mtnrider1

July 31st, 2012
12:43 am

Hope this gives the bravos the arm strength to go deep into Oct! Good newsbreaker MB.

Bravesfan

July 31st, 2012
12:45 am

Mark Bradley

July 31st, 2012
12:46 am

Maholm started Sunday. Wren says he won’t join the team until Wednesday, so I’m guessing … the weekend?

Mark Bradley

July 31st, 2012
12:47 am

Johnson will be here tomorrow, per Wren.

Grandma Giffin

July 31st, 2012
12:47 am

Maholm gonna take over Hanson’s next start?

Mark Bradley

July 31st, 2012
12:47 am

I think the Braves are still looking, but moving Medlen back to relief is kind of a trade in itself.

humpomg

July 31st, 2012
12:49 am

Mark Bradley

July 31st, 2012
12:49 am

Really, Maholm doesn’t have to take anybody’s place except Medlen’s. Although Fredi’s comment about Hanson maybe skipping a turn was intriguing, wasn’t it?

IdahoBraves Fan

July 31st, 2012
12:49 am

Good move but couldn’t they have unloaded Struggla instead?

Prado Wan Kenobi

July 31st, 2012
12:51 am

Mark good to see I’m not the only one up! A career says the most about a pitcher, but I Like guys getting hot this time of year and that goes for picthers also, and Maholm is looking great right now!

Mark Bradley

July 31st, 2012
12:52 am

I’m not staying up much longer, I fear. About to head out. A long day at the yard.

Thanks for hanging around, folks.

Grandma Giffin

July 31st, 2012
12:53 am

@ Mark Bradley “Although Fredi’s comment about Hanson maybe skipping a turn was intriguing, wasn’t it?”

That’s what I was alluding to. If he wants to sit Hanson for a turn, it would be a good opportunity since Hanson would be scheduled to pitch this weekend.

Prado Wan Kenobi

July 31st, 2012
12:56 am

Good Night…….Good to have you back!!!

tjhook

July 31st, 2012
1:00 am

I wonder will there be more infield shuffling now that we have another outfielder. Will Janisch stay(I like his defense)? Also, will Hinske be strictly infield now? Or will Prado be moved around more frequently? Glad for the new additions, though.

COOPER

July 31st, 2012
1:00 am

I sure hope Medlen still gets to start on Tuesday and if he pitches 7 innings, strikes out 7 and only allows 2 or 3 hits with no walks I hope he will stay in the rotation. Hanson is the one that needs a break.Maholm can spot start for each starter but I think Medlen deserves the chance to start. It seems he is being punished for being the only reliever who can come into a game and throw strikes, but can also be a starter.

Kris

July 31st, 2012
1:03 am

Mark – doesn’t this completely contradict the blog you posted a couple of hours ago? Maholm is at best a #3 and seeing as how we are packed to the gills with #3 starters how exactly does this benefit us? Not sharing your sense of enthusiasm here – this reminds me of the trade we made a couple years ago for Farnsworth and Ankiel…this will make no difference down the stretch. Maholm is a bum.

JC Boscan III

July 31st, 2012
1:05 am

Who knows — if Medlen does well Tuesday night, and Hanson needs a break, Medlen might get another start or 2. Hanson’s become the 5-6 inning starter that Minor and Delgado were earlier, and it’s not good for the bullpen. He’s dodged a lot of bullets in his last 2 starts. Maybe a 10-day rest will help him to rejuvenate…..

GT Alum

July 31st, 2012
1:09 am

IdahoBraves Fan -

Uggla probably has about as much trade value right now as JJ, which is virtually none.

luvthosedawgs68

July 31st, 2012
1:11 am

Love the trade…. Adds a lot of depth to two places that certainly needed it!!

southgabrave

July 31st, 2012
1:12 am

@DOB
Any rumors of another move to add more bench help? The pen will be fine with Medlen going back to the pen but we still need some bench help. Hinski is not exactly killing the ball.

luvthosedawgs68

July 31st, 2012
1:12 am

Uggla will turn it around…. At least he doesn’t pout or let the offensive struggles affect his defense.

Columbus

July 31st, 2012
1:15 am

Thanks Mark. Is this the REAL Mark Bradley? I do not know where you went and what you did on this vacation but please do it again next year…..I kinda like this side of you!

Dirty Dawg

July 31st, 2012
1:17 am

Don’t do that to Medlen…move him back before he’s given a legitimate chance to show that he can be the forth or fifth, maybe even the third, starter behind Hudson and Sheets, then Maholm, Minor or Medlen or Hanson. The final lineup will be based on performance between now and September, but I believe the odd man out will ultimately be Hanson. Of course if they end up short in the bullpen I suppose Medlen would be the logical choice but give the kid a chance to be a starter first. JJ who?

NorCal Brave

July 31st, 2012
1:20 am

A shot in the arm, for sure. Johnson, whom the Braves were sweet on in years past, is a solid bat who can play all outfield spots. Malholm, a proven veteran, will shore up the rotation, plus give us another Lefty! Plus, we don’t give up Delgado or Teheran. Should be a fun stretch run.

DawgDad

July 31st, 2012
1:31 am

This is a trade the Braves had to make, even if it hurts to watch Vizcaino down the road. Johnson is a good fit, perhaps a better Diaz than Diaz because he should be better defensively. Maholm adds a solid veteran to the rotation, though he hasn’t done anything approaching “ace” statusn and with Delgado still in-hand he adds sorely needed starting pitching depth to the organization.

The past two days Uggla has shown even a .250 average down the stretch would be a huge boost. Not quite what he’s getting paid for, but at least he wouldn’t be hurting the team.

pruss

July 31st, 2012
1:38 am

Hey Im fine if Uggla waits to get hot until mid August then stays hot through October…. P.S. Good trade

Bvillebaron

July 31st, 2012
1:42 am

Let’s not be so quick to trash Hanson folks!

Bill

July 31st, 2012
1:51 am

Great job mark..
great trade, we needed that southpaw and Johnson. Braves also got cash back from Cubs per MLB.com. Wren is still talking to Rays and Fish so look for more moves by 4pm Tuesday.

Mark Bradley

July 31st, 2012
1:59 am

My first thought was that the Braves didn’t need to get another No. 3/4 starter because they have a slew of those already, but the more I see of Hanson, the less impressed I am. The middle of the rotation needed bolstering, too, and the Braves believe Ben Sheets is more than a three-game wonder. They think he can be, if not quite a No. 1, then a No. 2.

In sum, I kind of changed my mind as the night went on. As I said, it was a long night.

Left Coast Dawg

July 31st, 2012
2:08 am

MB – what took so long to post this article? It was all over TV shortly after the game was over tonight.

jdawg

July 31st, 2012
2:24 am

I can’t believe we traded one of our big three prospects for Maholm and a utility outfielder. I had hoped Wren was hoarding pitchers in the minors for a better reason than this…

MB, what does Maholm’s contract look like?

Columbus

July 31st, 2012
2:27 am

Uggla has ALWAYS been streaky. When he DOES turn it around look out. Gonzalez knows this too and is smart to stick with him. At least for now and the team is winning so theres no urgency. BTW Uggla struck the ball differently and better tonight, which might be a great sign. Hes just getting his weight forward too soon, not staying back. If you have ever been there, you know exactly what hes doing. Foul popups, popups, strikeouts and grounders off the handle etc. They will fix that and he will be player of the month and hit 30 homers. Remember last year when he came out of it….WOW!

Hanson has won 12 games and still the 2nd best pitcher on the staff. Only gave up one run tonight I think(thanks to Prado’s great throw)If Prado made an awesome catch, he wouldnt have gave up any maybe. I agree he can use a rest. Its a long season and hes not long off surgery. But thank goodness for Hanson and Hudson this year! It wouldnt hurt my feelings to see both of them get some breaks down the stretch. Let Medlin start one Tuesday anyway.

The staff suddenly looks MUCH better if Minor and Sheets keep doing anything close to what they have been doing. Hanson getting some rest would be wise for his sharpness and for down the stretch. VERY WISE to give him rest. Sheets too. Heck all of them.

Hudson, Hanson, Sheets, Minor, Maholm. Medlin in long relief. Not bad at all. Then we got the old vet in the minors who might can help out too if needed.

HATE to lose the kid Vizcaino but a move for a quality starter HAD to be made and only a fool would not have. Got a quality starter AND a RH bat. VERY good deal. Now Schultz and the rest of the critics can stop hatin’ when every trade rumor didnt happen.

Got to respect Wren for holding to his guns and not giving up the farm to make a deal for a likely rental and to appease the haters! Wren is sharp and came through again. I knew he would.

Some idiots on here wanted to trade half the team and build for next year….ROFL! I mean Bourn and Prado and Uggla and Minor and Hanson. A playoff team should fold….why even be in the game then? Yeah we have a great shot but lets just forget it and play for next year! If that guy was GM, never mind, He never would be. Crazy.

Thanks for staying up and breaking the news Mark….

ACE

July 31st, 2012
2:28 am

Spot on with your review of the trade.

Kwajbraves

July 31st, 2012
2:33 am

Delgado and Teheran will get their shot next year on the starting rotation. I’m feeling sorry for Meds because I think he can be a good 4 or 5. Hanson and JJ will be gone either via trade or free agency. I don’t see the Braves going overboard with an offer to Hanson.

chris

July 31st, 2012
2:47 am

Any chance Dempster has attitude remorse and tells Theo to send him here after all?

Kwajbraves

July 31st, 2012
2:47 am

This how ESPN reported this trade: “Cubs trade Soto and two other too” LOL

BTR

July 31st, 2012
3:19 am

Did wren go for a GM to be named later ??? I sure wish so !

Chipper Why(Have you been so good)

July 31st, 2012
3:24 am

I am surprised at anyone not seeing this as an incredible coup.

This is the first left handed pitcher to make 6 starts in modern Cubs history with one run total. This guy had a below 4.0 ERA for the Pirates last year in a complete season. Look at his other seasons with the leagues worst team.

The Braves have received a pitcher, in my opinion, that will put up a better win loss percentage than Dempster.

Johnson could be nothing more than a bench player, but considering what happens when we have to put Prado at 3rd, I love the move. We will probably see him playing multiple positions, and resting our players.

Frank Wren I dont want to get your hopes up, but you may of made the moves needed to make us forget Texeira.

Mark do you see this being beneficially better than the Braves trading for a Dempster or a Greinke? Especially considering Medlen going back to the bullpen effectively being a pickup, a new left handed starter, and the better than average outfield sub we picked up?

Bradley Curse

July 31st, 2012
3:26 am

“This trade doesn’t transform the Braves”

I’ll get back to you 1) when the season is over; and then on as needed basis 2) once the playoffs are under way and then 3) once the world series is over. Then we’ll go over this statement again.

Najeh Davenpoop

July 31st, 2012
3:35 am

This is a great trade if they already had an ace starter and were struggling with back of the rotation depth. But it’s hard to win in the playoffs without a true ace, especially if the Braves are going to get caught up in the new one-game playoff for the wild card. Unless Wren thinks either Maholm or Sheets is going to continue pitching this way for the rest of the year I don’t think this vaults the Braves to true contender status. A bunch of solid #3 starters isn’t quite good enough for that.

John

July 31st, 2012
3:44 am

Anybody think the Braves will make another trade before the 4pm deadline on Tuesday? I’m wondering if Wren has something else brewing…just saying.

Moorman

July 31st, 2012
4:18 am

The braves traded for who?

superiorblogman

July 31st, 2012
4:42 am

Good trade all things considered

T-Bone

July 31st, 2012
6:10 am