Keith Law might or might not be the shrewdest analyst of minor-league talent — me, I think he’s pretty sharp — but because he works for the Worldwide Leader he has the biggest audience. And when Law writes something on ESPN Insider, it resonates.
About the Braves’ trade with the Cubs, Law wrote this (link requires registration): “The price for Atlanta … was too high.”
Also this: “Atlanta gets marginally better for this year with the additions of [Paul] Maholm and [Reed] Johnson, but the Cubs land the best prospect they’re likely to obtain in this year’s trade market in exchange for two players they didn’t need.”
Law calls Maholm “a back-end starter with a proven record for durability” and Johnson “a capable extra outfielder … who has a long history of mashing left-handed pitching.”
About Arodys Vizcaino, the 21-year-old pitcher the Braves sent to the Cubs: This spring, Law ranked him as the No. 14 prospect in baseball, ahead of Julio Teheran (No. 18) and Randall Delgado (No. 98). Vizcaino underwent Tommy John surgery in April, but Law still projects him as “a No. 2 or better starter.”
A couple of things: The Braves weren’t sure if Vizcaino is more suited to be a reliever — in a brief big-league stint last season, he did only bullpen duty — and organizations tend to regard starters a bit more highly than relievers. We should also note that the Cubs, whose biggest deadline lure was Ryan Dempster, wanted Delgado in that trade with Atlanta that never was. Should we infer that the Cubs themselves saw Delgado as a better prospect than Vizcaino?
The belief here is that the Braves made a good trade, and not every good trade is a swindle. (The Fred McGriff trade? That was a swindle.) They addressed their two weaknesses – starting pitching and the bench – and yielded a prized young arm to do it. In the years ahead, it will be intriguing to monitor Vizcaino’s career path. It will also be intriguing to watch these Braves in the 2012 playoffs.
By Mark Bradley