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Tackling the trade deadline: Atlanta Braves

Jul 13, 2011, 9:15 PM EDT

Nate McLouth, Jordan Schafer Getty Images

Atlanta Braves
First-half record: 54-38
Standings: trail Phillies by 3 1/2 games in NL East, 5 up in wild card

Needs

Outfield: Jordan Schafer has had his moments, but he also has a .599 OPS in 169 at-bats while filling in for Nate McLouth and Martin Prado.  The Braves offense is fine when everyone is healthy and McLouth is the worst player in the lineup, but adding another outfielder is a must.  Players are going to keep getting hurt, and while Prado’s versatility makes him a huge asset in that department, the Braves need someone to cover left field when Prado is needed elsewhere.

Bullpen: The Braves have gotten superb relief so far, but they currently have Jonny Venters on pace for 90 appearances, Craig Kimbrel on pace for 83 and Eric O’Flaherty on pace for 79.  They could use another solid right-hander capable of taking some of the burden off their big three.

Infield: If the Braves can’t bring in a starting-type outfielder, maybe they can at least go get a quality backup for Chipper Jones so that they’ll no longer have to play Prado at third base.  The return of Omar Infante to Atlanta would work if the last-place Marlins decide to sell.

Target

Josh Willingham (OF Oak): The addition of Dan Uggla was supposed to help out a Braves team that has typically struggled against left-handers, and it probably will pay off in time.  Still, to date, the Braves are hitting .208 and slugging .333 against southpaws, compared to .249 with a .407 slugging percentage against righties.  Willingham isn’t a perfect solution — ideally, the Braves would bring in someone capable of helping out in center as well — but he’s a very good bat with plenty of NL East experience.

Proposed deal

Willingham and RHP Brad Ziegler for LHP Mike Minor and LHP Brett Oberholtzer

I wouldn’t propose that the Braves give up Minor for Willingham alone, but for Ziegler, too, it might be worth it.  Ziegler has a 1.95 ERA in 32 1/3 innings this season, and he’s limited right-handed hitters to a .219 average and two homers in 525 career at-bats.  He is weak against lefties, but the Braves already have three quality southpaws.

It’s still a pretty high price to pay, but Brandon Beachy‘s emergence has made Minor expendable.  The left-hander would likely be a fine No. 3 starter in Oakland.  Oberholtzer, who is currently sporting a 4.03 ERA as a 22-year-old in Double-A, probably ranks as Atlanta’s sixth- or seventh-best pitching prospect.

  1. Kevin S. - Jul 13, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    If you’re going to deal Minor, why not see if you can get Beltran?

  2. ryanherrington - Jul 13, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    There’s no way I make that trade. Essentially you’re trading Minor for Willingham. Minor for Ziegler is even worse.

    If I’m Wren, I’m calling St. Louis and asking about Rasmus. I’d send Minor, Schafer, and Delgado for Rasmus and Boggs.

    I think Minor is worth more than a one year rental in Beltran too.

    • kast2l - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:22 PM

      that sounds like a terrible deal… theres a reason Cardinals may make him available… look at his numbers this year and u want to give the cards 2 of our top arms? Plus i understand that minor is expendable but what other left hand rotation guy do we have? I value that he is a LHP, isnt jo jo reyes and phillies hit poorly against lefties. Plus is doing great at triple a… if we send anyone of those guys, go get pence, not willingham..please god not willingham

  3. jjschiller - Jul 13, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    5 years of Mike Minor for 3 months of Willingham.

    Either you’re a Phillies fan (an A’s fan?) or you’re a moron.

    And I don’t really like to just insult people like that. I prefer snark and sarcasm. But do you actually understand baseball and contracts and service time and stuff?

    • thekcubrats - Jul 14, 2011 at 7:28 AM

      I’m guessing fan-ness has nothing to do with it. Sometimes you just have to call a spade a shovelful.

  4. hcf95688 - Jul 14, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for the A’s – with the lowest ERA in MLB – to try and upgrade their woeful offense?

  5. thekcubrats - Jul 14, 2011 at 7:25 AM

    Wow. Words fail me, again. Thoughts fail you, again. How did you get this gig?

    • chomsky66 - Jul 14, 2011 at 9:16 AM

      Another day, another whopper from Pouliot.

  6. Jonny 5 - Jul 14, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    If I were the Braves, I’d trade away McCann. Yeah, McCann for Buck, Then Prado, Kimbrel, and Jair Jurrjens for Joe Blanton, and Michael Martinez. Yeah, just like that. :)

  7. foreverchipper10 - Jul 14, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Willingham would not be a bad rental but shipping out Minor for him is out of the question. I can definitely see the Braves making a play for Rasmus which was mentioned before. I would be ok with sending some package of Minor/Beachy, Schafer and a player to be named for Kemp but alas, that is just a pipedream.

    • thekcubrats - Jul 14, 2011 at 12:00 PM

      But don’t you get it? Pipedreaming is all this is anyway. Just pulling it all out of his [hat]. Any commenter on this megablog could do exactly as well or better on this subject (well, okay, maybe not the guy with the extra “t” on his arm muscle). And yet this guy gets paid to pipedream. And? That is not a service to us.

  8. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 14, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Funny. The Braves want an outfielder to mash lefties and maybe fill it at CF once in a while? There are three guys who fit that bill who might be available this month: Melky, Francouer and Andruw. Take your pick Bravos!!

    Tee hee hee…

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