Stoking the Fires II: More Atlanta Braves Trade Possibilities

Joel Barker@joelabarkerSenior Writer IJune 7, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 18:  Mark DeRosa #7  of the Cleveland Indians in the field against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 18, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Usually when a team makes a big trade in May, such as the Braves did Wednesday night, they tend to be happy with that lone deal for a while.

Well, that's simply not going to work this time around.

I wrote Wednesday that McLouth might keep Atlanta in the NL East conversation, but he alone will not win the division for the Braves.

It's sad that this starting rotation is being wasted because of an awful offense that was just shutout for the fourth time in it's last 12 home games. In addition to that Atlanta has not scored a run in it's last 22 innings—18 of those with McLouth in the lineup.

So change must happen, and soon!

As I wrote in the last Stoking the Fires article, Jeff Francouer has got to go.

One would think that his dramatic, game-tying two-run HR in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday would have sparked at least a minor offensive surge.

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Not so—he's hitting .175 in his last 10 games and is continuing to be a drain on this lineup.

The Braves simply need to cut their losses and send him packing.

Rumors continue to persist that Mark DeRosa might be on his way back to Atlanta. DeRosa played in Atlanta from 1998-2004, but was never more than an inconsistent utility player/pinch hitter.

Since his first full season away from Atlanta (2006) he's averaged 15 HR, 78 RBI. His batting average over that span is .291, and he has averaged only 100 strikeouts per season from '06-'09.

Francoeur's averages are better over the same span, but has fallen steadily since his remarkable second season—when he had 29 HR, and 103 RBI. In the two-plus seasons since then he has only 34 HR.

DeRosa is not what you would consider an everyday RF. He's only played 11 games in the OF this season, four of those in RF. But he can play virtually anywhere on the field, just as the injured Omar Infante did before his broken finger landed him on the DL until late July.

With 1B Casey Kotchman about to land on the DL, the DeRosa trade could happen soon, in this writer's opinion. Utilityman Martin Prado is a capable fill-in at 1B, but DeRosa would be a drastic improvement all the way around—especially right now.

The thing that could keep him from Atlanta is his $5.5 million dollar contract. So any DeRosa deal would have to include the Braves moving some salary to accomodate him.

Francoeur makes a little over $3 million this season.

Another name that has been floating around recently is Colorado OF Ryan Spilborghs.

Spilborghs is nothing more than a fourth OF, but at this point Atlanta is desperate for any OF help.

Texas RF, Nelson Cruz would be an awesome addition to this team as well. Although the Rangers would probably not even consider dealing him, it's nice to think about what his bat would do in this Atlanta lineup.

When you consider the Rangers need for starting pitching along with the Braves rotation surplus it makes sense that something could be possible in Arlington.

According to published reports, Javier Vazquez might be on the trade block for Atlanta. He makes $11.5 million and is expendable since the Braves have plenty of starting pitching depth.

Here's what this fan thinks should happen: First and foremost, Atlanta must trade Jeff Francoeur.

I'd send Vazquez and Francouer to the Rangers for RF Nelson Cruz. Cruz is a big part of that lineup, but the Rangers are stacked with OF's and need pitching.

I know that there is about a five-percent chance of that trade taking place, but I can hope, cant I?

The most likely course of events for the Braves is dealing Francoeur to whomever will give them anything close to decent value.

Then they'll most likely deal for DeRosa.

Whatever happens, it had better happen soon or Atlanta will be an afterthought in the NL East.