July 24, 2011

ATL Hot Stove

It is one of my favorite times of the year, the MLB Hot Stove—and more specifically the July 31-st non-waiver trade deadline. There can be moves after this date, but then we have to get into the non-waiver deals. This is the highlighted deadline where the big names are moved…

When I think about the Braves making a trade, the first question to ask is what do they need? Well, the only players I would want to replace are Wilkin Ramirez (a right-handed outfielder), Julio Lugo (a capable backup shortstop), Scott Proctor (a right-handed relief pitcher), and, until today, Cory Gearrin—who was just sent back to AAA Gwinnett to bring up Cristhian Martinez. I really believe the Braves will need Martinez on their on their roster down the stretch.

So lets look first at the right-handed outfielder…

One of the biggest names linked to the Braves so far has been the Mets’ Carlos Beltran. In a strictly baseball standpoint, I’d love to get Beltran for the next two months. But, on a personal level, I still hate this guy from his days with the Astros. I guess the bottom line is, will he help the Braves win and what is he going to cost?

The answer to the first question, of course, is yes. I have been hearing the Mets like Randall Delgado and Arodys Vizcaino. If the Braves even thought of trading these guys for Beltran, especially to a division foe, I would tell you they are on crack—this can’t happen. I have also heard the Mets have been scouting Mike Minor, this is interesting. Though I still wouldn’t want to see a top prospect traded to the Mets, Minor is the one high-level prospect I wouldn’t mind being traded. The big three (Teheran, Delgado and Vizcaino) simply cannot be traded in my mind (unless the Rockies want to trade us Tulo).

If you were to ask me right now, would you trade Minor for Beltran (taking into consideration the Mets would be paying him), I would say no. I can’t give him to the Mets.

I actually think Minor is going to have some trouble being consistent at the big league level. Plus, the Braves drafted a pitcher that is very similar to Minor (Sean Gilmartin), so if they miss Minor, they will have a guy next year with the same skill-set.

The next name kicking around for the Braves has been the Reds’ Johnny Gomes. He’s barely hitting his weight now, but he KILLS lefties, which something the Braves desperately need. He would also help the Braves gain ground in the highly important neck-tattoo category. Who would the Braves have to give up though? Not Minor.  To make this deal work for the Braves they would need to give up only a low-level prospect with little upside.

The Rays B.J. Upton has been linked to the Braves for over a year. He definitely has the talent, but his attitude has been in question. It could be that a change of scenery would do him well, and I think Atlanta would be a good fit. Of course, I’m sure this would mean the end of Jordan Schafer’s days in Atlanta, but I can handle that; just as long as we get the GOOD Upton, not the guy who doesn’t feel like running after a ball in the gap.

The last name I have heard is the Astros’ Hunter Pence. I would GLADLY trade Minor and others for this guy. He may be the most awkward-looking player ever, but he produces. I would love, LOVE this guy on the Braves for many years.  But the problem is the Astros know he is good and will want the farm for him—though I’d be tempted to give up most of it.

Other names connected with the Braves have been Ryan Ludwick, Reed Johnson, Ryan Spilborghs and Michael Cuddyer (who would be ideal, but has been said to be ‘untouchable’ by the Twins.)

In terms of right-handed pitchers, I have heard the Braves express interest in the Padres’ Mie Adams and Heath Bell, that’s right THAT Heath Bell. Of course both would be set-up men. Can you imagine a back-end of Bell, Venters and Kimbrel?! WOW! I can’t see it happening, especially since they would have to give up a lot for Bell and/or Adams, but I could see a lesser name, like Farnsworth was last year.

I haven’t heard of the Braves potential interest in a back-up shortstop, but I wouldn’t mind an upgrade. Now, if the Braves go into September with Julio Lugo being the guy, I can live with it…But I wouldn’t mind a guy with a little more pop.

Most of the rumors you hear will never come to fruition—it’s always the deals you never hear about or expect that end up happening. I mean who would have thought Rick Ankiel would have been a Brave last year? Not me. But he hit probably the biggest HR of the year for the Braves.

I do have one major problem with the trading these days in baseball. Why is it that just because a team is having a down year, they think they have to trade every one of their good players? Let’s take Hunter Pence for example. Why the hell would the Astros even consider trading their best player? Now, maybe they are just rumors, but if I were the Astros, I’d come right out and say, “There’s NO WAY we are trading the face of our team.” I mean come on!

How about the Rays? There have been a lot of rumors about trading BJ Upton and James Shields. Why would you trade Shields? So, you are behind the Yankees and Red Sox this year, so let’s dump half the team?! Absurd!

*****

Obscure Brave of the Week: Ron Mahay.

Mahay was ‘the other guy” the Braves received when they traded the Rome Braves for Mark Teixeira in 2007. He was originally drafted as an outfielder by the Boston Red Sox back in 1991. He was called up by the Red Sox during the 1994 baseball strike, so he is not in the MLB players association.

After the Red Sox, Mahay played for the Athletics, Marlins, Cubs and Rangers before arriving in Atlanta. He pitched well for the Braves going 1-0 2.25 ERA 23K 28 IP.

Following the 2007 season, Mahay played with the Royals and Twins. He has been in the minor leagues with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks over the last 2 years and just recently signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals on July 5th.

I will be driving down to the ATL on Wednesday and plan to make a video journal documenting the entire trip (iMovie is amazing!). I will be chilling somewhere between Sec. 111-115; I know a guy…

Go Braves…

Twitter: @BRAVEinNY

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