Atlanta Braves: Frank Wren Makes Bold Move, Brings Back LaRoche

Kevin MarkumCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2009

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 9:  Adam LaRoche #19 of the Atlanta Braves is congratulated by teammates after LaRoche hit a grand-slam home run in the third inning against the Houston Astros in Game Four of the 2005 National League Division Series on October 9, 2005 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

No doubt, this is a head scratcher.

I liked Casey Kotchman, but I didn't love him. He was a quiet contributor at first base. His hitting was about average hitting .266 in 130 games in an Atlanta uniform.

However, Kotchman's stint in a Brave uniform ended today as he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for a familiar face to the Braves organization, Adam LaRoche.

I think honestly, between the two, I liked Casey Kotchman. For me, LaRoche is a type of hitter that is all or nothing. I don't particular care for LaRoche when the tension is high, a runner is on second with two outs, and the game is on the line.

Sure, LaRoche hits more homers, but I really think Kotchman is superior with the glove. That's a compliment considering LaRoche's career FPCT of .995 with only one error this season.

However, the upside of this trade is it gives the Braves a little more power, something the Braves are severely lacking in. The Braves also get a player that Bobby Cox knows pretty well, and I'm sure he already knows how he will use him because of this.

It's something the 46th greatest coach in sports history has a knack for.

But really, what was the purpose of this trade. Is there really enough of a difference between Adam LaRoche and Casey Kotchman to warrant a trade like this at the deadline?

Yes, or I hope so.

Adam LaRoche was expendable in Boston because of Victor Martinez's ability to play first. Casey Kotchman will also see time though as Martinez will also play catcher at times.

However, the benefit (hopefully) the Braves will get is LaRoche's ability to hit after the All-Star break. If the Braves make it to October, he'd be a great power bat hitting behind Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and possible Yunel Escobar (unless LaRoche starts hitting fifth).

What I really like about this trade though is that in the offseason, LaRoche could be a nice trading chip in a deal to upgrade for a power outfield bat if Jason Heyward isn't ready. That, plus I think the Braves would be more willing to trade LaRoche this offseason than Kotchman had they have kept him today.

Just as a side note question, do you think Jones could make the move to first base in 2010? If LaRoche gets traded, I could see it. However, I doubt they would move Jones to a position where prospect Freddie Freeman will be knocking on the big league door during most of 2010.

I can say this about Frank Wren.

I do feel like he's at least trying to win this year. We've seen two pretty big trades over the last month with the acquisition of Nate McClouth and LaRoche. We've also seen his willingness to trade a fan favorite who was hitting poorly in the form of Jeff Francoeur.

Wren is making the hard choices. This year, it could pay off...