Strike one, the Braves miss out on Carlos Beltran.
Strike two, Philly (in the same division) wins the Hunter Pence sweepstakes.
Now with two strikes, and all the pressure mounting, can Frank Wren and the Atlanta Braves add that outfield bat that they are looking for so desperately.
Here are 5 trades that make sense for the Braves.
The Braves have not had a true leadoff hitter since Rafael Furcal was manning shortstop for the Braves. There is a common thread that has occured since Furcal left Atlanta, and that is that the Braves have failed to win the division (after 13 consecutive seasons of winning the division with true leadoff men that included the likes of Furcal, Lofton, Grissom, and Otis Nixon).
Bourn gives the Braves what they really need worse than anything, a leadoff guy that can play centerfield. Not only does Bourn play centerfield, where the Braves two current CF's Nate McLouth and Jordan Schaeffer are both on the DL, but Bourn plays a top-notch CF (winning two gold gloves out there). On top of being a well above average defensive player, Bourn brings an average of .300, an OBP over .360, and currently is on pace to lead the NL in stolen bases for the third consecutive year.
The Braves will have to come off of one of their top 4 big prospects to get Bourn, but that package may end up being more than what Philly offered up to get Pence, being that all of Atlanta's top four prospects are AA prospects or higher.
Talent, upside and athleticism are the key words when you talk about Upton. Yes, it is true that Upton has gone on a rapid descent in the last four seasons. Yes, there are question marks to the effort that Upton has put fourth on a daily basis. But no one has ever questioned that this guy has talent.
Upton has averaged a .340 OBP for his career in the majors at Tampa. Add to that somewhat impressive OBP an average of 40 stolen bases a yr, and 19 HR's, and you have a solid five tool centerfielder. Upton, like Bourn, is another top-notch defensive centerfielder. Add to the mix that Upton is a strong right handed bat, and he hits lefties well (both big needs of the current Braves ball club), then Upton could be a great fit for the Braves.
It does not look like Upton will command as high of a package as Bourn would, but the common sense move here to me seems like young stud pitcher Arodys Vizcaino for Upton. Though Arodys is a top-notch prospect, that played in the futures game this year, he is projected as a future reliever. With the Braves having two super young studs in the back end of the bullpen in Kimbrel and Venters, and the Rays having someone in the wings to take over for Upton in the name of Desmond Jennings, this trade seems logical. Upton's value will never be higher, being that he only has one more year of control after this season, so the asking price cannot be but so high for one year of control, and the Rays cannot pay the price to keep him long term.
Carlos Quentin is not exactly what the Braves are looking for, but he would be a great fit for a team that needs a right handed bat. His fit is not as ideal as Bourn or Upton just based on the fact that he is a corner outfielder, and the Braves have two franchise players playing the corner spots of the outfield in Martin Prado and Jason Heyward. But with Heyward's recent struggles, and Chipper Jones's inability to stay healthy (thus Prado moving to 3B), this seems to be a good match.
Why does this trade make sense for the Chicago Whitesox one might ask, when they currently only sit 3 games out of first place in the AL Central? Because Ken Rosenthal tweeted tonight that the White Sox believe they have left themselves to thin on starting pitching after letting Jackson go via trade earlier in the week. Solution.....the Atlanta Braves, and their plethora of young, close to the majors, talented pitching.
This sounds like another trade that would be good if the Braves offered up Brandon Beachy (pitching well at the MLB level), or Mike Minor (AAA domination) on top of one or two mid-level prospects for Quentin. The Sox have a young, future star in the wings ready to take over in Dayan Viciedo. The Braves will not offer either of these guys for Quentin again, so this may be an ideal time to make this move.
Yeah, I said it. Shocker of them all. This has no rumor to support it, and probably will never happen, but the thought of this makes some sense. Ofcourse you would have to think that the Mariners would have to cover some salary in this deal, but why not, the Mariners are never shy to spend money.
Ichiro is 36 years old, and on the downside of his career. But he is still a well above-average defensive player, that can play CF, and he is still one of the best leadoff men in the game, despite his worse season to date this year.
Why do this if you are the Mariners? Because you are not winning anything this year, and probably not next year. But you do have two or three really great pieces to work around for the future in King Felix and Pineda, the sensational rookie starting pitcher. Why not get somone that can help you for years to come if you are Seattle?
You would think that a package that involved Brandon Beach, Mike Minor, or Randall Delgado, on top of a couple other prospects, would be a good starting point to discuss Ichiro. I admit, this is a long shot. But again, this is 5 trades that make sense, and this has some sense to it. Not much steam, nor chance, but logic.
If you are an Atlanta Braves fan, then the idea of Coco Crisp does not get you too excited. Josh Willingham is not really a sexy trade to get the fan base and team motivated to make a stretch run. But both Willingham and Crisp in one trade, that would be a pretty strong deal worth consideration if you are the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves have that need in CF, and Crisp fills that need. It was stated earlier about the Braves need for a leadoff hitter, Crisp fills that. Braves need right handed hitting sticks, Crisp and Willingham fit that bill.
Why though would the Braves want both of these guys? The average Braves fan could tell you that if you got Crisp and put him in center, then Willingham would be left out. Not so fast! Jason Heyward is having a down season, and beyond down when you view his paltry numbers against LHP (.167 avg and .255 obp..ouch). Willingham would be a great platoon for Heyward in right field. Then, you also have to consider the health of Chipper Jones. If Chipper stays healthy, and that is a BIG if, then he still needs to rest once every three days. In that situation, you put Prado at 3B, and slide Willingham to LF.
What then is fair compensation? If you are the Oakland A's, anything. Buster Olney recently claimed that the A's may currently be the worst franchise in baseball (guess that does not help to hype up the soon to be realeased movie Moneyball, sorry Billy Beane). That means that they need a lot of help. Crisp is a free agent at the end of the season, he is not even a type B free agent. Therefore, if they do not move him, they get nothing for him at all. The Braves get two bats that can help out their team. One is a nice power right handed bat that is much needed, the other is a speedy, leadoff type guy that can play CF, also another massive need. Sounds like a match.
Braves could offer up Hoover, Oberholzer, and Lipka in exchange for Crisp and Willingham.
It is obvious to everyone in the world that the Braves have to pull the trigger on an outfield bat by tomorrow. When you are playing a seven year, journeyman minor leaguer in Jose Costanzo in CF for a contending club, that just does not cut the mustard. Hinske is a nice bat off the bench, but a regular starting outfielder? Way too much of an anchor defensively. Then there is Julio Lugo. He is hitting below .200, has zero power, and is on the Braves because no one else wanted him, he was out of baseball, but now starting some games for a playoff contender?
A move must be made, and it will be interesting to see what move it will be. The price is probably getting run up on the Braves higher than any other club for two reasons: 1) They have a wealth of top level prospects that other teams would love to steal, and 2) Everyone, and I mean everyone, knows that the Braves need an OF stick more than any other team, and based on the law of supply and demand, the demand is high, and the supply is low....therefore the price is going to be through the roof. Just do not mortgage the future like you completely did when you got two months of Mark Texiera. Well, the Braves did supposedly mortgage the future on that trade, but three years later and the Braves are one of the best farm clubs in baseball, and they are on the verge of back to back playoff appearances. So is it really that bad to give up prospects?