According to Buster Olney, the Atlanta Braves are seriously considering a deal with the New York Mets for Carlos Beltran. This deal would likely involve one of the Braves' stellar pitching prospects, and Beltran would only be in A-town until the end of the season. Then he'd be a free agent.
Despite all this, Beltran could be just what the Braves need to push through the postseason. Here's why.
The Braves may be cautious when dealing within the NL East since they were badly burned in the Dan Uggla trade last offseason. Uggla is only hitting .193 with a .265 on-base percentage. Omar Infante, who was traded away for Uggla, is hitting .265, good for fourth on the Marlins.
Another trade bust, Nate McLouth, has struggled to a .225 average in 2011, and the sophomore slump has hit Jason Heyward hard, dropping him to .229/.320/.412. Overall the Braves are 26th in the league in hitting and third in strikeouts.
Beltran could help the Braves in all offensive categories. He walks almost as often as he strikes out, and his 30 doubles this season prove he still has wheels, even at age 34. Beltran's speed and power might manufacture enough runs to give the Braves stellar pitching a lift.
Beltran's .517 career slugging percentage in the second half of the season is another reason for the Braves to pick him up for the short run. Right now, the Braves' team slugging percentage is .390, below the Mets.
Last season, the Braves lost the NLDS 3-1 to the San Francisco Giants, the eventual World Series champs. Every single game in the series came down to one run. The Braves big hitters, like Jason Heyward, underperformed.
Braves hitters averaged over 10 strikeouts per game. Beltran, in 22 postseason games, has only struck out 13 times with 18 walks. He humiliated the Braves in the 2004 NLDS while with the Houston Astros, and seven years later, Beltran still has the skills to raise the team to an elite level.
The Mets moved Beltran to right field this year, but that hasn't slowed him down at all. In 86 games, he has only committed one error. His arm still is cannon-like with four outfield assists.
The Braves need steadiness in the outfield. Eight different players have logged time in the grass, but the regular starters (Heyward, Schafer and McLouth) have eight errors between them and have only recorded two assists.
Errors doomed the Braves last postseason, and the ghosts of 2010 may push them into this trade.
The Braves boast one of the best starting pitching staffs in baseball, while the Mets are strictly middle of the road. New York ranks 16th in ERA and average against. The Braves could use this to their advantage and get Beltran with a prospect.
Atlanta can afford to lose one of its talented youngsters since most of the starting lineup is locked up for a few more seasons. Jair Jurrjens becomes a free agent this offseason, but I think Julio Teheran, who is 10-1 with Triple-A Gwinnett, could help with that loss.
Enter: Randall Delgado. Delgado got a start earlier this season against the Texas Rangers and was roughed up a bit. Not surprising.
However, he is a hot young talent who would pair nicely with Mets' prospect Matt Harvey. Delgado would get more recognition in the Mets' farm system than in the Braves' pitching-saturated minors.
Fredi Gonzalez has had the unenviable task of following legendary skipper Bobby Cox in the Braves dugout. The results on the field have been outstanding with the Braves five games up in the wild card race.
However, the moves made under Gonzalez have been rough. Dan Uggla, who played for Fredi in Florida, has been absolutely terrible this season. If the Braves get Beltran, and he flourishes in the system, I think Gonzalez will be much more respected. This could help the Braves in the offseason.