Monday, July 26, 2010

Braves look to fill holes before July 31st deadline

Marlins Outfielder Cody Ross
If the Braves don't find a better option in center field before this weekends trade deadline you should probably expect Greg Norton to teach Nate McClouth how to strike out with the bases loaded and one out to give the guy behind you a chance to get a hit. Just sayin'.
The way I see it the Braves have two holes they need to fill by week's end. First, Since McClouth is clearly not the go to guy in center field that needs to be filled. Second with Jesse Chavez and Kenshin Kawakami just taking up space in the bullpen and Eric O'Flaherty struggling with some arm strength issues, I think it is safe to say we'll need another reliable arm in the bullpen. So to fill these needs I think the Braves have three different options.
Option 1: Trade for a center fielder and fix the bullpen with talent already in the organization. The two best options at center field were Cody Ross of the Florida Marlins and David Dejesus of the Royals. Since Dejesus is likely out for the season with an injured wrist, that leaves Cody Ross. As of today the Braves interest in Ross is minimal and it's easy to see why. With the Marlins not yet out of the playoff race they haven't started selling so what they would ask in return for Ross is just too high a price for the Braves to pay. Many reports state that the Braves currently have enough top notch arms in their farm system that they could get anybody currently on the trade block. The problem is none of top guys is a center fielder and so I don't see Wren pulling the trigger on this option. UPDATE: Fukudome of the Cubs might also be a good option since the Cubs are willing to offer cash considerations on any trade. But once again Fukudome isn't really a center fielder and we already have enough corner outfielders.

Option 2: Trade for a bullpen fix and fill the center field spot with some combination of Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco. Right now trading for a bullpen fix won't be very effective because the going price for middle relief is way too high. The Braves aren't looking for a top notch closer or setup man so it wouldn't be smart for the them to give up their high end talent for a middle reliever.

Option 3: Fix both problems from within the organization. Unless a top notch outfielder becomes available very soon, this seems to be the most viable option. So how we gonna do it?
Talented Lefty Mike Minor
    Bullpen fix: The Braves could promote top prospect Craig Kimbrel to fill the bullpen roll or more likely Stephen Merek who has a 0.60 ERA through 45 innings at the double and triple A levels. If Wren chooses he could also place put Medlen back in the bullpen and promote prospect Mike Minor into the starting rotation. I like this option because it would fill the bullpen whole and add a much needed left handed pitcher into the rotation.

I think that either Gregor Blanco or Cabrera could fill the gap in center field. Blanco has the potential to do what Martin Prado did for the Braves last year. But I'm not sure that Frank Wren is willing to take that chance. If a top center fielder comes on the market at a reasonable price I think Wren will make the deal and fix the bullpen with what we already have. However if nothing becomes available then I could see Wren sitting on his talented arms and fixing things with what we've got.

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