Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

I don’t want them forget Ruth; I just want them to remember me. -Hank Aaron

16 Jul

Outfield help?

I think we’re all agreed that the Braves could use a replacement for Darren Bragg. There’s no guarantee they’ll actually look for one. Teams that are doing well tend to stand pat, even if there are obvious weaknesses, and as long as the Braves are scoring runs they may not care that their utility outfielder is hitting worse than 2/5 of the starting rotation.

If the Braves do make a move, I’m working on the following assumptions: 1) They will go after a veteran who has played regularly in the past, and 2) That veteran has to be able to play centerfield for at least a few innings. That limits the pool somewhat.

The best outfielders on the market for the Braves’ current purposes are probably San Diego’s Rondell White and Cincinnati’s Jose Guillen. Both are problematic for the fourth outfielder role because some teams might want them to play regularly and could outbid the Braves. The Padres have said that anybody who wants White has to take Kevin Jarvis off their hands, and the last thing the Braves need is another mediocre pitcher with injury problems and a fat contract. Guillen is having a tremendous year, 337/.389/.616, and I fully expect him to go to the Yankees.

Cleveland’s Matt Lawton, currently on the DL, is a patient hitter with some power, but a .244 batting average and a big contract. He’s unlikely. If the Rockies decide they’re out of it, they might move Jay Payton, but his numbers aren’t very good for a guy playing half his games in Colorado.

That brings me to what I think of as the “bad blood” group of players. These are the guys who maybe fit the Braves’ needs the best, but whom they’re unlikely to get because of personality conflicts. The Mets’ Roger Cedeno is a fourth outfielder-type stretched as a regular. He’s despised in Queens. Would the Mets trade with the Braves? Even if they would, Cedeno is having a terrible year and is massively overpaid. Having a good year, and a manageable contract, is Kenny Lofton of the Pirates. But after his sojourn in Atlanta, it’s hard to imagine the Braves bringing him back. To a lesser degree, the same is true of Reggie Sanders, his teammate in Pittsburgh.

Anyone else have an idea?

19 Responses to “Outfield help?”

  1. 1
    Colin Says:

    The Braves tend to like players who impressed in ead to head competition. for that reason alone I’d likely rule out cedeno (andhis terrible defensive rep doesn’t help with cox, either).

    Any other mediocrities out there who have happened to have good series against ATL this season?

  2. 2
    samuel Says:

    Forget it Mac. We’re not going to go get any offensive help. Not by by trade, or by replacing Blanco with Estrada, or by replacing Bragg with the kid selling cotten candy in section 47.

    What we’re going to get is what we always get – a Proven Veteran pitcher, likely at the cost of a kid who would be just as good at 1/10th the price. E.g., Today’s Tampa Tribune vaguely alludes to discussions of a 3-way deal wherein the Rays end up with Andy Pratt and Estrada, and (I presume) Atlanta gets an Orioles starter.

    Anyway, we can certainly discuss offensive possibilities for kicks, but keep in mind it’s a completely academic exercise.

  3. 3
    D Says:

    He’s too good to be a fourth outfielder, and too expensive as well, but what about Shannon Stewart? At one point it seemed like the Jays were shopping him, though maybe since they’re sort of in the race they will hold onto him.

  4. 4
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Samuel, check out Creg’s transaction evaluations in the Bullpen. Last year, they didn’t do anything, but that’s an aberration. They’ve almost always picked up a veteran hitter during the season: Colbrunn and Myers twice, Hernandez, Surhoff, Julio Franco in recent years. Go back further and you see Deveraux, Polonia, and some others.

  5. 5
    Spike Says:

    The “Orioles starter” is Sidney Ponson, according to Peter “I am a doofus” Gammons. I wouldn’t cry about Sid winding up here – but damn, that PWG must have said “I think Zito was so overwhelmed by being onstage with John [indie rocker] he didn’t hear Macha tell him about Clemens” a hundred times yesterday. In addition to being ludicrous, what’s with the constant obscure indie band name dropping. He’s like some kind of creepy middle aged “hepster”.

  6. 6
    bamadan Says:

    I have a radical idea: promote Hollins, McDonald or maybe even Porter from AAA. None is a great ~ or even good ~ prospect. But none could possibly be worse than Bragg.

  7. 7
    Troy Says:

    Spike, i agree with you that PWG does too much name-dropping, but no way is John Mayer an “indie” artist — he’s a cheeseball dave matthews ripoff on a major label.

  8. 8
    Creg Says:

    Thanks for the plug, Mac. By the way, Guillen probably also goes in the “bad blood” department. He blew a gasket when he got benched after Griffey came off the DL, as if Bob Boone could justify sitting Junior, Kearns or Dunn. Only Kearns’ recent injury problems and Griffey’s periodic gimpiness have kept Guillen in the lineup.

    I still think Ron Gant would be a good fit, although you have to wonder why no one else has picked him up since Oakland released him.

    Oh, and Shannon Stewart was just traded to the Twins for Bobby Kielty. Looks like another steal for J.P. Ricciardi. I was just about to suggest Kielty.

    However, with the wealth of outfielders the Twins still have — Hunter, Jones, Restovich, Mohr, Cuddyer, Lew Ford — and their need for pitching, Marquis, Hodges or Bong for Mohr would be a good deal for both teams. Mohr’s got decent power and can play both corners well and center in a pinch, plus he’s two years away from arbitration.

  9. 9
    Spike Says:

    Just goes to show ya – I know little about popular music and even less about unpopular music.

    PS – I am in Fenway Park installing software this week for NESN. Saw Theo yesterday – he looks like my paperboy. THen again, I am old and stuff.

  10. 10
    Rhett Says:

    I suggested Kielty in another thread, but I don’t think we would have beat the trade they got, even though Kielty’s worth it. The Braves don’t have a Shannon Stewart caliber player to give.

  11. 11
    Mac Thomason Says:

    What Robert said. There are a number of young outfielders who could be had for pitching help of the sort the Braves could provide, but the Braves never trade for young hitters. If I didn’t mention it, I was trying to figure out the kind of hitter the Braves would get, not the kind I’d like them to get. I’d much prefer Porter or McDonald or Langerhans get a shot to prove they belong on the ML bench, but I’ve given up hope of that.

  12. 12
    Andrew Says:

    Langerhans is currently hitting .262/.351/.406 in his repeat year at a major hitter’s park in AA. Send him to the major leagues right now, and I suspect he’d be Darren Bragg with a (slightly) better batting average.

    McDonald is at .267/.352/.345 for Richmond. Yes, those numbers are correct. He’d bring speed and a little OBP to the Braves, but a low .300 SLG PCT isn’t something to be excited about. Maybe an upgrade on Bragg, but nothing more.

    Porter’s currently at .240/.309/.382. Again, bleh.

  13. 13
    Husier Says:

    Virtually any OF is an upgrade on Bragg. He and Lenny Harris are captains of the all-why-are-we-still-in-the-big-leagues team.

    I suspect Lew Ford figures into the Twins’ future plans somewhere. I would look at Lawton, who could play CF in a pinch. Or maybe Matt Stairs or Jeremy Giambi. Both could give the Braves a DH-PH option with Matt Franco if the they make it to the Series.

  14. 14
    Troy Says:

    Jeremy Giambi would be great. I don’t know how he’s doing this year, but he always has seemed to me to be the kind of guy who struggles as a starter but if you had him as the last guy on your bench, he would probably work out splendidly. Much like Matt Franco.

  15. 15
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Stairs and Giambi, of course, can’t play center. Can’t even really play left. The Braves don’t have a 25-man spot for a player like that unless they were to go back to eleven pitchers. Which they should, but probably won’t until August.

  16. 16
    Robert Says:

    A name I would throw into the mix is Eric Owens. He was brought in to be the Angels fourth outfielder but the Angels seem to have caught lightening in a bottle with Jeff DaVanon (986 OPS in 172 PA!) so he is available.

    Positives: He’s over 30 so Bobby wouldn’t be afraid to use him. Can play center without killing you. Has a good rep for hustle and attitude. Should come cheap.

    Negatives: Hasn’t hit this year (.221/.248/.265) for his usual 700 OPS. Hits right handed which would leave M.Franco as the only lefty off the bench. Someone may have to wake Angels GM Bill Stoneman to get him on the phone as he seems uninterested in doing anything to his World Champs.

    Owens wouldn’t be a big upgrade but he would come cheaply and a fourth outfielder on this team won’t play much anyway unless something goes wrong, so there’s not a big incentive to invest a lot of resources there.

    So, Eric Owens. That’s my final answer.

  17. 17
    Colin Says:

    Jeremy Giambi is currently hitting 173/.331/.355, and I think has been hurt. He might be had for cheap if we had a need for a player of his type, but I don’t think the Braves do.

  18. 18
    Rob J. Says:

    I’m sorry, Robert, that was me! I’ll just post as Rob J. from now on.

    As for outfield help, Eric Owens would be a good fit, but maybe Atlanta needs a left handed bat.

  19. 19
    Rob Cope Says:

    It is true getting Owens would leave them with only one LH pinch hitter. But really, we already do. Can you really count Bragg as a pinch hitter?

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