Braves likely to stand pat for a little while
So the Braves record four hits or fewer for the ninth time this season last night and suddenly Braves Nation is once again talking about making an immediate trade or firing Larry Parrish.
When the Braves first visited California three weeks into this season, the offense was providing concerns and there was already some wondering whether Parrish was the right guy to replace Terry Pendleton, who had spent the previous years serving as the Braves’ hitting coach and their fans’ punching bag.
Well as much as this might pain you, I don’t see a trade happening for at least another few weeks and it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if Parrish sticks around at least through the end of this season.
As the final days of June elapse, ’tis the season for the baseball world to be enamored by trade rumors. There has been nothing wrong with Braves fans dreaming about the possibility of adding somebody like Matt Kemp or Hunter Pence.
It adds to the interest of the game and after having to watch their offense over this season’s first three months Braves fans deserve some excitement. But when looking at these rumors from a realistic standpoint, there is very, very little reason to believe either player ends up in Atlanta.
When there were rumors swirling around Matt Kemp last year, there was reason to wonder if he had indeed tested the last bit of patience the Dodgers had for him. But now that he has recovered from Rihanna fever and once again established himself as one of the game’s greatest all-around talents, there is no reason for the Dodgers to trade him now.
Check out this story my colleague Ken Gurnick wrote this week and tell me if you think Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is ready to give up on a player that made Bobby Cox take pause the first time he saw Kemp take batting practice in 2007. Colletti has said he is hoping to sign both Kemp and Andre Ethier to multi-year deals before they become free agents after the 2012 season.
Yeah, I understand the McCourts divorce proceedings have created great financial problems for the Dodgers. But you’ll see Tommy Lasorda wearing a San Francisco Giants uniform before you see the Dodgers trade Matt Kemp this year.
Like most other Major Leaguers, Pence isn’t in Kemp’s elite category. But as the most talented trade piece available in the Astros’ system, he could draw a significant return on the trade market.
With their impressive crop of young pitching prospects, the Braves could likely create a package that would satisfy the Astros. Of course if they were to acquire Pence to fill their one potential need in center field, then it could be said they would be playing without a true centerfielder.
Pence played 95 games as a centerfielder in his 2007 rookie season and has not returned to the position. He might be able to upgrade the lineup. But it wouldn’t be long before some of you would be talking about how much you miss Jordan Schafer in center.
This brings us back to where the Braves stand on the trade market. Once Martin Prado returns to play left field and hit near the top of the lineup, Braves general manager Frank Wren will have a better idea about what his team needs before the July 31 trade deadline.
But as things currently stand from a position player standpoint, Wren seemingly has no choice but to wait a few more weeks to see how confident he is in Schafer’s ability to serve as the leadoff hitter the club needs.
At times Schafer has looked capable of filling this need and at other times he has provided the reminder that he might need more time to develop the patience the role demands.
In his first nine games, Schafer hit .229 with a .357 on-base percentage. But in the 18 games he has played since being hit in the face by a fouled bunt attempt, he has hit .219 with a .269 on-base percentage.
Schafer is a great athlete with tremendous potential. The Braves can afford to wait a couple more weeks to evaluate his potential as a leadoff hitter. But if there is still some question after the All-Star break, then we’ll probably hear more about their pursuit of an outfielder who could fill the leadoff spot.
As for the topic of Parrish’s long-term future, the Braves are much more likely to make an in-season change to their coaching staff now that Bobby Cox is not the manager. But don’t forget that the decision to hire Parrish was essentially Wren’s.
If Fredi Gonzalez had also been allowed to hire his hitting coach, you have to think he would have gone with Jim Presley, who served as his hitting coach in Florida and now handles this role for the Orioles. You also have to wonder if Dan Uggla would be struggling in this manner had Presley been around.
But before thinking too much about this, remember that Presley was removed as a candidate for the Braves’ job a few weeks before Wren landed Uggla from the Marlins.
I’m guessing Parrish makes it at least through the end of the season. If he is dismissed at that time, some of the players will likely campaign for Triple-A Gwinnett hitting coach Jamie Dismuke.
After the Padres pounded Jairo Asencio for six runs during last night’s seventh inning I tweeted that we might see Cory Gearrin pretty soon. Well the Braves opted not to promote Gearrin today and I now think Asencio will stick around at least until Tommy Hanson is activated from the disabled list Tuesday.