Chipper is playing on fumes
The Atlanta Braves are reeling.
Perhaps this is a harsh assessment, but the time for talk is passing rapidly.
Injuries are mounting, opportunities are being squandered, and questions are heating up as to what moves, if any, the Braves will make at the deadline.
The holes in the team are becoming more pronounced every day, and while organizations are wheeling and dealing, others, like the Braves, are sitting idly by. This article will show how recent injury news may force GM Frank Wren to make a move he doesn't want to make.
McCann on the 15 day DL
Last night, the Braves lost Brian McCann for a minimum of 15 days with a strained oblique muscle.
This couldn't have come at a worse time. The already tepid Braves lineup now loses its offensive leader, perennial All-Star, and captain. Even Fredi Gonzalez thinks that 15 days is optimistic, and that the Braves will probably be without McCann for 20 days or more.
The good news is that backup catcher David Ross has filled in nicely for McCann this season, so he should transition into the starters role seamlessly for the next month. However, Ross is a backup catcher for a reason, so any offense he generates is just an added bonus. J.C. Boscan from AAA Gwinnett has been called up to fill McCann's roster spot.
The Braves will desperately need the middle of the lineup to step up in McCann's absence, and since that hasn't happened yet this season, the outlook is bleak.
How the Braves handle this injury will be crucial to a post-season run. If they bring him back too soon, he could re-injure his back and be lost for the season. If they keep him on the shelf too long, they will drop too many games and risk missing the playoffs.
This is where a trade for a proven bat would do wonders. Carlos Beltran appears to be off the market and heading to San Francisco. The Braves could go after Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, or BJ Upton. For the Braves to re-enter the mix, Frank Wren may have to put one of his young pitching prospects on the trading block, whether he likes it or not.
Jordan Schafer likely hitting the DL today
Jordan Schafer has been diagnosed with a chipped bone in his left middle finger. The Braves ran the young outfielder through a battery of tests and deemed him ready to play. In last nights marathon Schafer was hit on the wrist with a pitch, further hampering his ability to control a bat.
News today is that the Braves will most likely place Schafer on the 15 day disabled list. The Braves have recalled outfielder Wilkin Ramirez to fill Schafer's roster spot. This move hides the Braves' true needs. A broken bone is not going to heal in 15 days, and it is also not going to improve Schafer's hitting this season. His results thus far at the plate are virtually the same numbers that got him sent back to the minors for a season and a half in 2009.
Nate McClouth will have to replace Schafer in center field in the meantime, which means the Braves have his .231 batting average and inconsistent defense to look forward to. A trade may make sense as a fix here. Plenty of outfielders are still available, but time is running out to land them.
Chipper Jones is day-to-day with a strained right quadricep
Chipper Jones is simply running on fumes now. His body is starting to betray him, which means the Braves simply can't count on their future Hall-of-Fame third baseman for significant stretches of time.
Jones was recently activated from the DL after having his right knee scoped, and now has strained his quad in the same leg.
The Braves are a different team offensively with Jones in the lineup. Quite simply, Jones' presence at first allows Prado to play left field. This, in turn, allows the Braves to keep Schafer and McClouth out of the lineup at the same time.
Chipper is having an admirable season considering that his 39 year old body is starting to break down from the wear and tear of too many 162 game seasons.
The Braves have a great option at third base with Prado, but they desperately need help in the outfield. Losing Prado from the outfield means the Braves have to make a move at the trade deadline to generate some offense.
Peter Moylan may be back by the end of August
Peter Moylan has been out for most of the season since he underwent surgery on May 17 for a herniated disc. Moylan is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Sunday, and assuming that it goes well, the Braves expect him back by late August.
This is crucial for a Braves bullpen that has led the majors statistically for most of the season, but struggled of late. Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters are walking the tightrope of being overworked, and the Braves could desperately use Moylan in the bullpen in place of Scott Proctor for the playoff push.
The Braves still may need another arm out of the bullpen, but they have options here. A trade may not be in order due to the progression of Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino in AAA. Either of these young arms may see some time with the big club in September, which means the Braves can focus on their needs for a strong outfielder.
The Braves are running out of time to get it done
Braves fans are four days away from finding out what GM Frank Wren has up his sleeve. The right trade here could be his finest hour. No move at all could get him run out of Atlanta by way of I-75 N and back to Baltimore.
There is no telling what the future holds, but one thing is clear. Wren is intent on keeping his core group of young pitchers Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, and Randall Delgado. These coveted prospects are the key to unlocking a deal that will keep the Braves competitive.
The dominoes are starting to fall, with the National League power San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals closing in on deals to set them over the top.
Wren has a history of 16 deals since he took over for John Schuerholz at the end of the 2007 season. What will deal number 17 be? Stay tuned to find out...