The Atlanta Braves are not known for making blockbuster deals at the trade deadline, but could the 2011 season be different? I've got five deals that have been whispered around the MLB that would really enhance the Braves' chances at making a deep postseason run in October.
Those chances are already good, by the way.
Atlanta sits at 54-37 as of July 9th, the second best record in all of baseball. They've achieved this record despite going weeks without their entire starting outfield while they were all on the DL.
Dan Uggla has been ice cold all year long, and not until recently has he contributed. Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson have fought through injury to produce on the mound.
Oh yeah—the Braves have a brand new head coach trying (and successfully so) to manage it all, Fredi Gonzalez.
With Chipper Jones bound to miss three to four weeks after his recent knee surgery, Atlanta is in a position to add some outfield power once Martin Prado returns from his injury to fill in at third base.
The first two are highly possible, highly "Brave-like moves." The final two are my dream scenarios. The one in the middle is a nice middle point between likely and dream-like.
Enjoy and keep chopping your tomahawk!
This deal makes sense in a lot of ways for the Atlanta Braves.
First, Josh Willingham is right-handed hitter with some pop; a need from that side of the plate.
Second, he is familiar with the NL East having played with the Washington Nationals for two seasons.
Third, he is perfectly capable of playing left field.
Finally, he plays for the Oakland Athletics who are always looking to trade!
Willingham is a lifetime .262 hitter and has averaged 20 home runs per season once he began getting full playing time in 2006.
If he were to receive a mediocre 500 at-bats this season, Willingham is on track to hit 21 homers and 90 RBI. Not bad at all for a middle-of-the-road trade-deadline grab.
This would cost the Braves one prospect pitcher, I think. That's not too much to ask considering their farm system stockpile of them. Maybe adding Derek Lowe could return a prospect as well.
I have to be honest: This trade would really disappoint me. It reminds me far too much of the lackluster Rick Ankiel trade that was made last year at the deadline.
The price for Ludwick would be similar to that price for the aforementioned Willingham. The Padres are tied for last in the NL West and have no reason whatsoever to think that they'll win the division, much less the wildcard (reread that last bit and smile).
He is a free agent at the end of the year and, if the Atlanta Braves come knocking with a serious offer, Ludwick would easily be shipped eastward.
There were preseason rumblings of a trade that could involve the Florida Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves. Colby Rasmus would've most assuredly been involved in the deal, but instead the Braves made a two-team trade that brought Dan Uggla to Turner Field.
Still, Rasmus holds tremendous value for a team that has managed to hang around all the way to the All-Star break. That surprises me greatly.
The Milwaukee Brewers remain the class of the NL Central, whether they know it or not, mainly due to the Cardinals' terrible luck with injuries.
Unless manager Tony La Russa can perform another work of magic, moving Rasmus could pay dividends for years to come for St. Louis.
The Braves would love to add him even though he's a left-handed batter. He's currently on pace to have 555 at-bats, 16 homers, and 64 RBI, far below his blistering start.
That means he could be slightly cheaper than he should be, but would still cost Atlanta top pitching prospect Julio Teheran, plus some.
When I first heard about this, I thought it was a big reach, but then I kept reading and kept thinking.
The Chicago White Sox, my pick to win the AL Central, have a lot of competition. The Detroit Tigers aren't going anywhere this season and the Minnesota Twins are a real threat to steal games from them. The Cleveland Indians are having a fantastic season beyond anyone's wildest imagination.
Maybe it's time to bust up a few of the players who still have value for the White Sox and live to fight another year.
Two Chicago executives have been in attendance at Atlanta Braves baseball games for two to three series now, which has to make you wonder.
Enter Carlos Quentin, heavy hitter right-handed outfielder. He has cooled off as of late, but still has 17 home runs and 50 RBI. He is also eligible for arbitration in 2012.
At age 28 and a real budding talent, Quentin would be a hefty price for the Braves. Besides trading Teheran, Atlanta would have to add another pitching prospect (Jonny Venters?) and maybe a replacement outfielder like Eric Hinske.
That's how big a deal this would be.
This is the dream of all dream scenarios. This is the Inception of the Atlanta Braves trade rumors. This is Hunter Pence—the man they call the Praying Mantis.
Before I go on, I have to admit that Pence is one of my favorite players in the bigs. His passion for the game shows through the TV, even though he plays for the worst team in the league, the Houston Astros.
His raw style reminds me of the kind of game that Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays played, where natural talent, not technical skill, was rewarded.
What else would you call a three-quarter throwing motion that routinely nails runners trying to tag up from third? What else would you call a third batter who is humble enough to choke a full three inches?
I love this guy.
He's having the best season of his life, hitting .325 with 10 homers and 59 RBI, which makes him a costly option for the Braves. Houston GM Ed Wade would need a golden basket of gifts in a trade in order to justify trading his only star, but it can be done.
Teheran, Venters, Hinske and Nate McClouth. I personally don't want to send young starter Mike Minor, but if he must be added, we'll swap him in for Venters.
Pence would take over the right field position, allowing Jason Heyward to rest in left, and would bat third. He's a season changer for the Braves.
He'd take the team to the NL East title.