Braves looking to improve bullpen and bench
Before we step away from one milestone and begin the quest for 10,001 victories, let’s take a quick look at the topic — potential trades — that will consume the baseball world for the next two weeks.
(This is the entry I posted on MLB.com’s Trade Deadline Blog this afternoon. Follow that blog for regular updates on the trade market.)
While the Braves might not make a huge splash on this year’s trade market, they will be certainly be active in their search to land a right-handed reliever and right-handed hitting outfielder.
An American League scout proved more specific Friday when he said, “They’re looking for a right-handed hitter who can play each of the outfield positions.”
While the Braves might not necessarily find the versatile outfielder they are seeking, they would seemingly be satisfied to strengthen their bench with the right-handed equivalent of Eric Hinske. This would provide manager Fredi Gonzalez at least another option to combat situations when opponents can attempt to take advantage of the heavy left-handed presence in the Braves’ lineup.
The desire to add a right-handed reliever is obviously aimed toward limiting the innings compiled by top middle relievers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty down the stretch. The Padres’ Mike Adams has been mentioned to be on the Braves’ wish list.
Adams and his All-Star teammate Heath Bell have also reportedly been on the Phillies’ wish list, which seems to look a lot like the possessed by the Braves.
The Braves and Phillies could both benefit from the acquisition of Hunter Pence. But the Astros’ outfielder will seemingly come at a steep price.
With the general belief being that Astros general manager Ed Wade is fighting for his job, one Major League source said earlier this week, “he’s got to make sure he clearly wins the deal if he trades Pence.”
OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD
- As Martin Prado stood in the dugout Friday afternoon and talked about how he might need a few more days to get comfortable at the plate, I couldn’t help but smile and think, “yeah right.” In other words, it wasn’t a great surprise to see him return to the Majors after missing more than a month and enjoy a two-hit performance highlighted by a home run last night. Prado’s determination to work harder than anybody else has earned the distinction of being one of this organization’s most valuable pieces.
- It was nice to see Pat Corrales back in uniform as the Nationals’ bench coach last night. Those who were around will never discount the value he brought while he served on Bobby Cox’s staff here in Atlanta. Corrales was always a man who drew both admiration and respect in the Braves clubhouse. There was a time when a young Andruw Jones was nearly as annoying and maddening as Yunel Escobar was the past few years. Taking the approach of a strict loving father, Corrales guided Jones in the right direction and saw him quickly become one of the most beloved members of the clubhouse.
- The Braves have opted to put highly-regarded pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino in the bullpen with Double-A Mississippi for the remainder of this season to limit his innings. At this time last year, it seemed like the 20-year-old right-hander was destined for Tommy John surgry. He’s already thrown a season-high 87 innings this year. While there is a chance he could return to the rotation to simply continue his development next year, I still believe his future at the Major League level is as a reliever. This drew debate from some of you in Spring Training. But I still think his fastball-curveball mix will work best as a top setup man or closer.