Most have heard the news that Ken Griffey Jr. has decided to play for the Seattle Mariners over the Atlanta Braves, leaving more questions on who will play left field for the Braves. Here are a couple of the remaining options that the Braves could look to in order to fill the left field spot.
Outside the Organization
Coming off a decent season with the Angels in which he hit .293 with 15 home runs, Anderson is one of the few free agent options left on the market. The good news for the Braves is that he could fit nicely into a platoon with Matt Diaz (just like Griffey Jr.). As a lefty, he hit .293 with 14 of his homers coming against RH pitchers, whom he slugged .450 against in 2008.
Although he used to play CF, with his age and declining range, Edmonds could probably fit better in LF for the Braves. Again, he is a lefty who could platoon with Matt Diaz. Against righties last year, Edmonds hit .250 but also had 19 home runs and slugged .521 in fewer than 300 at bats.
Although he could cause the team's batting average to take a hit, Edmonds has the most power of any OF that the Braves have a chance to sign (which is pretty much everyone except Manny Ramirez).
Trade rumors with the Yankees have quieted, but with the failure to sign Griffey Jr., talks may once again open up. Swisher had an awful year in 2008, hitting .219 with only 24 homers and 69 RBI. A switch hitter, in his career, Swisher has a higher BA and OBP against lefties, but a higher slugging percentage against righties. His OPS is much higher against lefties.
He wouldn’t be a great platoon partner for Matt Diaz, but he still has 30 HR potential (although he has only reached that number once in his career) and the ability to get on base despite a low batting average.
Another Yankee who hasn’t been connected in too many rumors within the past week, but who the Braves still could have interest in. He hit .305 with 25 homers in 2008 while splitting time between the Pirates and Yankees. Nady would likely play every day if acquired by the Braves.
Nady is a good bet for at least 20 homers and a .280 or higher batting average, but the cost for him may be steep considering that he has only one year before he becomes a free agent.
Within the Organization
The current strategy that would likely be used within the organization would be a platoon of Matt Diaz and Brandon Jones. Diaz, who suffered though an injury-plagued year in 2008, hit over .325 in part-time playing in 2006 and 2007. Against lefties, he has a career line of .328/.361/.508.
Although he has hit pretty well against righties in his career, he loses the power that he has against lefties (career slugging percentage against righties is under .400). Because of this, the Braves would likely look to platoon him with a left-handed hitter.
The left-handed hitter would likely be Brandon Jones. Although he has struggled in two extremely brief stints in the majors, Jones is just a couple of years removed from being considered one of the Braves' top three prospects.
Jones, who was once considered to have five-tool ability, has yet to develop the power that many thought that he would. However, he is still only 25 years old, so there is still room for development. Perhaps a full season in the majors could help Jones reach his once promising potential.
Another option for a platoon with Matt Diaz would be Gregor Blanco, who is also battling Josh Anderson (and possibly Jordan Schafer) for playing time in center field. Blanco is coming off of a rookie season in which he hit only .251, although he did have a .366 OBP. Blanco offers almost no power and didn’t fare that differently against lefties or righties last year (.252/.369/.302 against righties and .248/.360/.333 against lefties).
At this point, I think that the Braves should probably stick to what they have within the organization. While both Anderson and Edmonds could be good platoon partners for Matt Diaz, I think that the Braves would be wiser to simply use what they have and make a move at the deadline if they are still in contention for a playoff spot.
Diaz should be able to regain his form against lefties, and hopefully Jones will realize some of his potential which people had for him a couple years ago.
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