The fact is that when the Braves signed Dan Uggla, Frank Wren no longer needed to look for a superstar like Carl Crawford to fill left field.
Uggla should be good for around 30 homers in 2011, which will provide a helpful, much-needed element to the Braves lineup.
Scott Podsednik would be a nice fit for the Braves in my opinion. Yes, he bats left-handed just like Nate McLouth, but I feel like his skill set, and his cost would fit well with the Braves' needs.
Consider these points:
1. He can play anywhere in the outfield. If Jordan Schafer still isn't ready in 2011, Podsednik could be quite useful at those moments when Fredi Gonzalez (yes, that is weird not saying Bobby Cox) gets frustrated with McLouth.
Melky Cabrera gave the Braves an option for all outfield positions, but Podsednik's speed would make him better defensively. Despite playing the majority of his career in left field, he actually has a higher fielding percentage playing in center than he does on the corners. He made four errors in 2010, which is acceptable.
2. The Braves are severely lacking in the speed department. McLouth has the ability to steal bases, but Podsednik is a base-stealing threat. Even at 34 he stole 35 bases for the Braves. In 2010 Jason Heyward was the team leader with only 11 steals. Pathetic...
3. Podsednik gives the Braves another option to lead off. Prado shined in the leadoff spot in 2010, but Prado's ability to hit for power is quite limited batting first. I'd like to see him have more opportunities with runners on. I doubt Podsednik would hit first often, but it would give the Braves another option with his speed and average ability to get on base.
4. He is a fairly cheap option. The Braves like cheap. I think he could be had for between $1 million and $3 million. He would be a nice replacement for Melky without breaking the bank.
The Braves will likely carry four outfielders this season with the thought in mind that Prado could get significant time in left. Heyward is an obvious choice. McLouth and Matt Diaz will also be likely. The fourth spot could go to Schafer if the Braves feel he is ready. However, I would like to see the Braves take a chance on a cheap veteran like Scott Podsednik.
I would love to sign a Carl Crawford or acquire a Justin or B.J. Upton, but realistically the Braves need a cheaper option. Podsednik has a .279 BA in his career and carried a .297 BA in 2010. His OBP leaves something to be wanted, standing at .340 in his career, but he would be a significant upgrade from Melky from 2009.
Consider these lineups (with Chipper Jones and without):
- Podsednik (LF)
- Heyward (RF)
- Prado (3B)
- Uggla (2B)
- Brian McCann (C)
- Alex Gonzalez (SS)
- Freddie Freeman (1B)
- McLouth (CF)
- Prado (LF/1B)
- Heyward (RF)
- Jones (3B)
- Uggla (2B)
- McCann (C)
- Gonzalez (SS)
- Freeman (1B)/Podsednik (LF)
- McLouth/Podsednik (CF)
Podsednik would not be a lineup-changer like Uggla will be, but he could be a catalyst to help the big bats drive in runs.
Oh, and Atlanta Braves for World Series champions in 2011.