MLB Trade Rumors: Can the Atlanta Braves Catch the Philadelphia Phillies?

Stephen UrbaniakCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2011

MLB Trade Rumors: Can the Atlanta Braves Catch the Philadelphia Phillies?

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    The Atlanta Braves had one of the most successful runs in team history during the 1990s, winning 14 straight NL East division titles. 

    Led by stud pitchers such as Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Steve Avery, the Braves were the most stacked team in the National League.

    Future Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox retired after 28 years at the helm of the Braves, after leading them to the 1995 World Series championship. 

    Fast forward to 2011, and the Braves are managed by Fredi Gonzalez and they currently trail the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies by 3.5 games.

    The Braves have a new breed of stars namely Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla, and pitchers Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson.

    The trading period is usually a time of speculation and scenario-making as to what stars go where.

    So here goes three of the most pressing rumors and lessons for the Atlanta Braves:

1. Mark Teixeira Flop Still on Mind of Frank Wren

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    The blockbuster trade that Atlanta made for first baseman Mark Teixeira in 2007 still rings fresh in the minds of GM Frank Wren and fans in Braves Nation.

    He was brought in to be another bat in Atlanta's rotation.  He initially provided a spark as in his first game as a Brave, he hit a 3-run homer, and drove in four runs in a resounding 12-3 rout of the Houston Astros.

    After the game, the Braves obviously didn't think enough of him throughout the rest of the season, as they traded him to the Angels after being unable to negotiate a contract that would've made him one of the highest paid players in baseball.

    He has since signed with the New York Yankees.

2. Could Carlos Beltran Be an Option?

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    Alot of speculation has been made that Atlanta could be in the running for New York Mets' right fielder and switch hitter Carlos Beltran.

    Adding Beltran would give the Braves another legitimate bat in their offensive attack to go along with Jason Heyward.  Beltran has been a solid .282 batter with 293 home runs and over 1100 RBI.

    Beltran is also known for his extremely high stolen bases percentage, and he could prove to be a valuable asset to the Braves' lineup as they continue to pressure the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies.

    Acquiring Beltran will not be easy.  The Mets are reportedly asking for a highly-rated prospect or starter in return.

    According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick:

    "Much has been made of Atlanta's need for a bat -- with Carlos Beltran one prominent name often thrown into that conversation -- but as ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tells Rumor Central, for Atlanta to be able to acquire a bat, they may need to move some salary. One obvious name: Derek Lowe."  (ESPN.com)

    Crasnick notes further:

    "The Braves, as we know, have a lot of in-house fixes in place. Mike Minor could come up, as could future ace option Julio Teheran, who has destroyed minor league hitting." (ESPN.com)

    Stay Tuned.

3. Derek Lowe May Be Going Elsewhere

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    Derek Lowe has been a reliable pitcher for Atlanta since coming over from the Dodgers in 2009. He is one of two active players to have played 12 or more seasons without going on the disabled list.

    According to the Miami Herald, "His dominant pitching keyed the Braves to the playoffs last season as the NL Wild Card, he had a dominant stat line: 5-0 record, to go along with a 1.77 ERA with 29 strikeouts."

    Lowe has consistently been linked this season to possibly being traded for the Mets' Carlos Beltran.  Trading Lowe would enable some minor league prospects the chance to showcase their talents at the major league level. 

    The Braves have not publicly confirmed that they are shopping him but stranger things have happened.