Hank on Prado

(via DOB)

“You hate to lose Prado. He was one of my (favorites). I mean, to me, I think you’ve got to go a long ways in order to beat him, to find somebody who can play all the positions as well as he plays them. To bring what he brings to the clubhouse, and the way he plays the game. To us, we needed a ballplayer and we went out and got one, and it cost us dearly. Because this kid can truly play ball. And he’s a good kid in the clubhouse. He’s going to be missed and I wish him the best of luck. I hope he goes there and hits .400.”

Amen.

I plan on attending one of the games June 28-30 when the D’backs come to town to show Martin how much this Braves fan appreciated him. Hopefully he gets the standing O he deserves.

Head, heart divided on Prado deal

Do the intangibles matter? Do strikeouts not? Depends on your school of thought.

I think they can both be true. Having a player who serves as an example for others by the way he plays the game is a plus — but it doesn’t compare with talent. Justin Upton could win an MVP this year. Martin never will.

Yes, an out is an out but some outs are productive. Strikeouts never are — but they are better than double plays. A strikeout-heavy line-up is prone to collective slumps, and this one should be no different.

Upton’s 121 K’s aren’t bad fora power hitter; I’m more troubled by Chris Johnson’s 131 K’s in 136 games. He’s likely to be platoon with Bigger Frank, who struck out 70 times in 192 AB’s. McCann and Andrelton are the only line-up regulars who won’t top 100 K’s.

Defensively, the Braves have gotten worse. The outfield is a little better but third base could be a nightmare. Chris Francisco is likely to be to 3B what Uggla is to second.

I’m glad the Braves didn’t trade any of their best pitching prospects. If I wasn’t so attached to Martin I’d probably like this trade.

Instead, I’m conflicted

The new face of the Braves

Nothing against Brian McCann, whose time in Atlanta is probably nearing an end, but the new face of the Braves is Martin Prado. Few people seem to realize that, but fortunately Frank Wren does.

Braves working on long-term deal for Martin

Looks like the Office’s favorite Brave will be with the organization for awhile.

Martin is a credit to the organization. He never complains, does everything well and always plays hard. He’s having his best season yet, on pace for 45 doubles, 73 RBI, 20 steals and a .376 OBP. And no Brave is more consistent — he’s the anti-Uggla.

Martin will be 29 on Opening Day, so he has a lot of good years left. Glad to hear he’ll be spending them in a Braves uni.

The captain

I don’t think there’s any doubt Martin Prado cares. He always plays hard, never complains and, when healthy, is consistently clutch. I hope he remains a Brave for years to come. Obviously his teammates agree.

Dan Duquette must be drunk

From MLB Trade Rumors:

The Braves and Orioles discussed a possible Adam Jones trade recently, but talks didn’t progress far, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). The Orioles wanted at least two of Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Randall Delgado and the Braves weren’t interested, Crasnick writes.

I don’t think I’d trade ONE of those pitchers for Adam Jones.

 

Braves did NOT offer Prado and JJ for Adam Jones

Mark Bowman reports:

The Braves expressed interest in Adam Jones. But they did not offer Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens to the Orioles in exchange for the outfielder.

A source with knowledge of the Orioles negotiations disputed a Baltimore Sun report that indicated the Braves were rejected when they offered Prado, Jurrjens and a pitching prospect for Jones.

Good to hear because that would’ve been a crappy trade. Martin has a higher career OPS than Jones (.775 to .756). The Orioles CF has more power and better speed but only 117 walks in his career (which includes four complete seasons).

A multiple-J.J. trade would make more sense: Jurrjens and Prado for J.J. Hardy and Nolan Reimold.

Braves, O’s working on a deal?

According to Ken Rosenthal, “the Orioles and Braves have discussed a deal that included both Jurrjens and Prado.”

I wouldn’t mind having Adam Jones, 26, but he’s not as good as you think — last year’s .466 slugging percentage was a career-high while his .319 OBP matched his average over parts of six seasons. Advanced metrics indicate he’s no great shakes with the glove, either and Jones is only two years from free agency. I’d prefer a package of J.J. Hardy and Nolan Reimold (see my comment below for details).

 

UPDATE 2:

Jon Heyman @JonHeymanCBS 22m

jurrjens for adam jones an internet rumor that seemed reasonable to me. then i asked an o’s guy: “no way. not even close.”

UPDATE:

@ajcbraves David O’Brien
re: #Braves-#Orioles rumor. Reaction, or lack of same, I got when asking Mon. about Adam Jones led me to wonder, too, if something brewing.

Trade proposal du jour

I’m against trading Martin Prado for the hell of it but not against listening. Same with JJ. This proposed swap would bring cheap talent and would answer the Braves’ lingering questions.

Braves trade Jurrjens to Reds and Prado to Rockies;

Reds send Chris Heisey, Todd Frazier and Yonder Alonso to Braves;

Rockies deal Seth Smith to Reds, Charlie Blackmon to Braves.

Might need to add a marginal pitching prospect somewhere, but I suspect this could work. Braves save roughly $10 million, which would free up enough cash necessary to sign Jimmy Rollins.

I’m not ready to entrust SS to Tyler Pastornicky. Scouts are divided as to whether he’s an everyday option (26 errors, 32 BB between Pearl and Buford last year) and there’s nothing saying Rollins couldn’t switch positions once Andrelton Simmons is ready.

This assumes Rollins can be obtained for nothing more than 4 years, $44 million.

The Braves would be left with an experienced hand at shot with speed and some pop. Alonso, a lefty slugger who has never struck out 100 times in a season, and right-handed hitting Heisey would be a potentially potent combo in LF. Heisey can also play CF with Blackmon, a Suwanee native, waiting in the wings. Frazier, while probably not a long-term solution at third, would be a competent fill-in when Chipper sits.

Alonso is Cincy’s third-best prospect, according to Baseball America; Frazier, adept at the infield and outfield corners, ranks 9th. Heisey has 26 homers and a .465 slugging percentage in 480 big league AB’s.

Alonso is a liability in left but, as said here before, the Braves won a World Series with Ryan Klesko in LF. Better to have a bad defender at an OF corner than at short.

If Rox want Prado FW should insist on Dexter Fowler

On June 20 Dexter Fowler found himself in Triple-A, demoted with a .238 BA and only two steals in 8 attempts. He was 3-for-33 at Colorado Springs amid discussion he was no longer in the organization’s long-term plans.

He returned to Colorado a few weeks later and, over the next two-and-a-half months, collected 22 doubles, 10 triples and reached base 40 percent of his AB’s. Now the  Milton High grad is deemed untouchable.

Or is he?

The Rockies insist he’s not available but beat writer Troy Renck suggests if they’re determined to get Prado they’ll have to part with Fowler.

I’d do that, though I’m not entirely sold on Fowler.

Then I see he has 39 triples in 405 games and a .355 OBP.  He’s still only 25 and would be under team control for three years. He’s fast and athletic, two qualities the Braves lack.

Yeah, I’d do that.

Prado for Delmon Young rumor not even worth considering

Yes, Delmon Young looked impressive hitting those five homers in nine playoff games last month. And yes, the overall No. 1 pick of the 2003 draft has more raw ability than Martin, as he demonstrated in 2010 with a career-best .298, BA, 21 HR and 112 RBI. But talk of a Prado for Young trade better be just talk.

Here’s why:

  1. Young is Klesko-ian on defense, minus the hustle.
  2. He has a reputation as a clubhouse cancer; Martin is the ideal teammate.
  3. His OBP in 2011 was the same as Martin’s (.302). That’s likely an aberration for Martin, whose career OBP is .20 points higher than Young’s.
  4. Young will make more money than Martin in 2012 and will be eligible for free agency after the season, one year before Prado.
I see absolutely no reason why FW would even entertain such an offer.

Rumored Colorado offer for Prado doesn’t thrill me

Seth Smith and CF prospects Charlie Blackmon/Tim Wheeler for Martin? I’d require Wheeler as the second player in that deal and even then I’m not sold.

At first glance, the Braves should jump at the chance. After all, Smith, 29, boasts an .833 lifetime OPS and is coming off a solid campaign.

Take away games at Coors Field, however, and Smith’s numbers (.257, .332 OBP, .418 slugging) are underwhelming. The left-handed hitting former Ole Miss QB has only a .202 lifetime BA against southpaws.

A Smith/Diaz platoon in LF doesn’t excite me much. However, Wheeler, 23, is coming off a breakout season at Double-A Tulsa, batting .287 with 33 homers, 28 doubles, 21 steals, a .365 OBP and a .535 slugging, so he’s worth pondering.

John Sickels had this to say about Wheeler, ranked 12th among Texas League prospects by Baseball America:

The big change this year is greater home run output. He is pulling the ball more frequently for distance power. The tradeoff is an increased strikeout rate, more than once per game this year, and that could cause some adjustment issues at higher levels. He’ll take a walk, which increases the value of his speed on the bases, although his stolen base success ratio leaves something to be desired. On defense, he’s played mostly center field in the minors, and he has acceptable range for the position. His arm is strong and accurate, and many scouts believe he will fit best in right field at the major league level.

Don’t trade Martin

On second thought, the Braves should hold onto Martin, unless someone is willing to overpay.

Consider:

  • More teams than not need a third baseman.
  • Aramis Ramirez will be dramatically overpaid by one of those teams.
  • The Braves will likely need a full-time replacement for Chipper in 2013.

Why trade Prado now when you’ll have to find a replacement in a year? Why not expect Martin to bounce back?

His hustle and selflessness would be missed. Martin belongs here.

Although I like JJ a helluva lot more than some stat-obsessed fans, now seems like a good time to deal him. The market is thin on pitching, JJ would probably fetch a lot and the Braves have plenty of potential replacements.

If the Braves had a stud ready to succeed Chipper, I might think differently about dealing Martin. Since they don’t, Martin should stay put.

Rumor started by Rowland might come true

Back in August I suggested the Braves trade JJ to the Royals for third base prospect Mike Moustakas. Then, last week, I pulled a Romney, saying “a bolder move, such as trading JJ, will have to wait until Tommy Hanson is back and pitching pain-free,” though I did pitch a Martin for Carlos Quentin deal.

Turns out both JJ and Prado are available. Mark Bowman reports the Braves “have informed some teams they might be willing to trade [the former All-Star's]. Both players could see their respective salaries rise from the $3 million range to the $5 million range through arbitration this offseason.”

Bowman mentions the Royals as a potential trading partner, noting the Braves’ interest in right-handed hitting prospects Lorenzo Cain, a speedy CF late of Milwaukee’s system, and converted OF Wil Myers. Cain, acquired in the Zack Greinke deal, had a .312 BA and .877 OPS along with 16 SB in Triple-A last season. The 25-year-old Valdosta native is ready for prime time, though he’s stuck behind Melky and Francoeur in KC (not a reflection on Cain’s abilities as much as the surprisingly productive campaigns lodged by the two ex-Braves).

Myers has the greater potential. Baseball America ranked him 10th among all prospects last winter but the 20-year-old struggled at Double-A in 2011, hitting just .254 with a .754 OPS. Scouts and talent evaluators aren’t worried, however, blaming his underwhelming performance on a variety of nagging injuries. He’s bounced back nicely in the Arizona Fall League, batting .367 in 16 games with a .506 on-base percentage and .700 slugging percentage.

Two prospects doesn’t sound like a fair return for two established veterans in their prime, though I doubt the Braves could get Cain and Myers for just Jurrjens. If they were to unload both players for cheaper bats they’d have $15 to $20 million to spend, perhaps on a Michael Cuddyer or Carlos Beltran.

Of course if Prado was traded FW would have to find a decent back-up for Chipper. How ’bout free agent Wilson Betemit, late of the Royals and Tigers? The ex-Brave phenom has driven in 89 runs and homered 21 times in his last 161  games with a BA over .290 and OBP just shy of .360.

Trading JJ would be risky, and you’d assume, coming off injury, his value would not be at its highest. But with C.J. Wilson the biggest name on the free agent market and few starters of note available via trade, JJ might fetch more than he’s worth.

It’s worth exploring, but neither NEEDS to be traded. If FW can bolster the offense by dealing JJ, he should do it. Especially for a platinum prospect like Myers.

Why I’ll never boo Martin

The dude cares. Too much, perhaps, but how many professional athletes can you say that about?

The Braves left fielder is struggling mightily, and he doesn’t hide the fact  it’s eating at him. He’s hit .220 with one homer and a .273 on-base percentage in 150 at-bats during his past 36 games.

“People think that it’s easy,” he said quietly Sunday morning. “It’s not easy. It’s hard to go to sleep like that. It’s hard.”

Martin breaks out of it tonight. I’ll be cheering him regardless, from our Henry Aaron seats behind home plate (thanks again, Duane).