Atlanta Braves Trade Rumors: Braves Must Bolster Bullpen Before Deadline
The Atlanta Braves may have missed out big time on Hunter Pence, but their needs extend far beyond the outfield.
Well, perhaps not that far, given that the bullpen is just beyond the outfield wall at Turner Field.
That's right, folks: the Braves need arms. And fast.
Now, that may some as a surprise to a lot of people. After all, Atlanta's bullpen currently boasts two All-Star relievers (Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters), one of the best left-handed specialists in the game today (Eric O'Flaherty) and two veterans who have stepped up their performance of late (George Sherrill and Scott Linebrink).
That being said, there's no doubting that the Braves' Big Three of Kimbrel, Venters and O'Flaherty have made almost as many appearances as Lindsay Lohan on TMZ. In fact, Venters, Kimbrel and O'Flaherty rank first, third and fourth in Major League Baseball in appearances this season, respectively.
That fact becomes more troubling when considering that Kimbrel is a rookie and Venters and O'Flaherty are both projected to set new career highs for innings pitched in a season by a long shot.
At this rate, these three horses are bound to tired out sooner rather than later. As such, general manager Frank Wren needs to get on the horn to find an arm or two on a trade market flooded with quality relievers before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline comes and goes.
It doesn't even have to be a big name, though San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell would certainly be a huge help and a positive influence on a young bullpen. Even a lower level guy, like Chad Qualls of the Padres, Todd Coffey of the Washington Nationals or Koji Uehara of the Baltimore Orioles, would help to ease the pressure on the Braves' youngsters at a reasonable price while eating up some quality innings of their own.
Otherwise, the Braves are going to have a tough time hanging with the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies, for the rest of the regular season and into the October.
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