An unfazed Wren remained focussed before striking a better deal

When Ryan Dempster balked at the opportunity to come to Atlanta, Braves general manager Frank Wren did not flinch.  Instead, he kept his focus on his team’s needs and ended up completing what appears to be a better deal.

Wren was deservedly displaying a smile when he met with media members just after midnight to reveal he had landed starting pitcher Paul Maholm and veteran backup outfielder Reed Johnson from the Cubs.  Sure he might have had to part ways with a prized young arm in Arodys Vizcaino.

But in the end he gave up less and got more than he would have had Dempster agreed to be traded to the Braves.

And for the second straight year, Wren and his staff managed to satisfy their needs while working with some definite financial constraints.

Like the Astros paid for the remainder of Michael Bourn’s 2011 salary after he was acquired before last year’s deadline,the Cubs provided the cash necessary to take care of the money owed to Maholm and Johnson for the remainder of this season.

Obviously, this might require giving up a highly-regarded prospect like Vizcaino. But as Chipper Jones nears his final year, the Braves players will appreciate Wren’s dedication to make a move that improves the odds that this year’s team will be a threat down the stretch and potentially  in the playoffs.

Had Dempster accepted last week’s trade, the Braves were going to compensate the Cubs with Randall Delgado, a highly-regarded 22-year-old pitcher who already has made 24 Major League starts.  Approximately four hours before this trade was completed, a National League scout said he regards Delgado as the best of the Braves’ pitching prospects.

Once Delgado grows more comfortable with his curveball, he has the potential to be an even more valuable part of Atlanta’s starting rotation.  With Julio Teheran struggling and leaving many scouts unimpressed with the life of his pitches this year, Delgado’s value to the Braves has risen.

Once Vizcaino, ranked as the Braves’ third-best prospect by MLB.com, recovers from Tommy Johns elbow reconstruction surgery early next year, he has the potential to be Carlos Marmol’s successor as the Cubs’ closer.  The hard-throwing right-hander with the impressive curveball is a tremendous talent.  But with most within the industry projecting him as a reliever, it seems easier to move him than the other young prospect who could strengthen a rotation for many years to come.

When the Braves approached the Brewers about Zack Greinke, it was apparent that they were not going to get anywhere in the negotiations without guaranteeing that Delgado, Teheran or Mike Minor would be part of a multi-player deal.

While it might have been easier to accept such a price for a difference maker like Greinke, the Braves would have taken some heat had Dempster accepted the trade that would have sent Delgado to Chicago.  Though Dempster is in the midst of an impressive season, there is reason to wonder if his hesitancy to accept a trade might have made him any more valuable than the red-hot Maholm, who has posted a 1.02 ERA and limited opponents to a .203 batting average in his past six starts.

Maholm provides the Braves a reliable middle-of-the-rotation asset who will cost just $6.5 million with his option for the 2013 season.  The 30-year-old left-handed pitcher grew up a Braves fan and he has posted a 1.69 ERA in five career starts at Turner Field.

Along with Maholm, the Braves received the veteran versatility provided by Johnson, who can serve as a backup at  each of the three outfield positions and strengthen what has been a weak bench.  Johnson has batted .448 (13-for-29) as a pinch hitter this year and also shown the ability to hit both right-handed and left-handed pitchers.  He has hit .321 (27-for-84) against lefties and .282 (24-for-85) against right-handers.

Johnson will essentially fill the role that had been filled by Matt Diaz, who is dealing with a right thumb ailment.

With Maholm’s presence, the Braves now have the choice to skip the struggling Tommy Hanson when his next turn comes around.  Maholm will either make his first start on Friday (if the Braves choose to give Tim Hudson one extra day of rest) or on Saturday.  This would set up the opportunity for Kris Medlen to return on regular rest to start in Hanson’s place on Sunday.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez hinted that this could be a possibility after he had watched Hanson labor through five innings against the Marlins on Monday night.  Hanson has issued 14 walks and allowed opponents to hit .309 against him in the 14 innings he has completed since the All-Star break.

Hanson does not appear to be having the shoulder discomfort that plagued him and eventually shut him down after last year’s break.  But the Braves might be wise to skip him for at least one turn with the hope that he might regain some arm strength and command.

 

21 Comments

Jair Spruill and Salcedo to Minn for Nick Blackburn Darin Mastroianni and Tsuyoshi Nishioka. then Uggla to CWS for Jesse Crain.

Or I just read that the Tigers want and middle of the order hitter and Uggla would be nice fit for the Tigers.

I really like this move. Now next year they can non-tender Jurrjens and replace him with Maholm. Past that, I think the Braves shouldn’t pick up Hudson’s option and use the savings for an ace starter like Greinke next year. I’d love to see a rotation of Greinke, Beachy, Maholm, Minor & Delgado/Teheran. Yea I left Hanson out of it because if Minor continues to progress I’d use Tommy as trade bait for a good RH left fielder and use the money from Chipper, Lowe, Hinske, Diaz, Hudson, Wilson and anyone else who isn’t coming back next year to secure Bourn, McCann and a couple of bench players.

I didn’t read any of Pherris’ last comment, too busy laughing at the Phrillie phire sale.

Fire sale?. the Phillies have just saved as much as the Braves entire payroll or the attendance at CBP for a game or two. Brandon were you one of the robust crowd of 22,000 who attended the Braves game last night? I didn’t think so.

Couldn’t quite move Lee and his remaining $72M-plus, and now you’re back to talking about attendance.
Anything to take your mind off the fact that you guys, NYM, and MIA are fighting in the basement again, right?

It really does boggle my mind on how Pherris can afford attend 81 Phillies games a year while obviously being unemployed or having nothing else of importance in his life that interferes with the time it takes to commute to and from watching a 3 hour baseball game a few times a week. Phillies now have 3 losers playing the outfield, a crippled 3B, a platoon at best fill in 3B, a shortstop who is way past his prime, a 2B with unfix-able knee problems that will send him to an early retirement, a 1B that can’t run the bases without collapsing behind his own weight, not to mention his rapidly declining power and contact numbers, along with a declining walk rate and a giant laughable price tag. The only thing Philly has going for them is their battery, and that’s only 3 out of 5 times. I mean, you’ve employed Joe Blanton for what, 3 seasons now, and for how much money? Good pitching beats good hitting, but decent pitching is all it will take to kill the Phrillies offense over the next few seasons. I didn’t even touch base on the awful bullpen. Have fun talking attendance numbers for a while, Pherris. All the profits from that attendance this year have landed the PHrils in the basement known as last place, under .500, 16.5 back, and in the worst 10 teams in all of the Major Leagues.But by all means, show up for a few more Phillies games this year. You’re in the same boat as Cubs fans right now.

How bout trading UGGLA!!!!!??????????

Shut up!!!! No one wants him or his salary.

No one except the Braves.

Ok, get something for hanson before he breaks for good. His mechanics are killing him. Where is Moylan?

Yawn. The Braves just swept the phillies. Again. They’ve won 6 straight. Attendance is a boring conversation… Braves > Phillies. That’s what matters. 14 consecutive division titles? Untouchable. Have a nice day, and enjoy the rest of your season watching us… none of us are watching the phils.

Hanson back the the DL. Is it fair to say he breaks down towards the end of seasons? Oh well, hopefully Medlen will prove capable as he was in 2010. Corey Gerrain back – scary when you bullpen consists of JJ, Availa and Gerrain.

go phillies go!

Not trying to be down on Uggla, but his average is rapidly approaching the .200 mark, and not in the right direction. With picking up Johnson, maybe the Braves should move Prado back to 2nd and let Johnson have LF. Last year, Heyward wasn’t as bad as Uggla is right now when he was kicked to the curb for Constanza. I think it is time for Uggla to have a lower back strain and take a couple of weeks off.

Wow, Medlen pitches a gem. Who could have seen that coming? Really that performance was just straight out of the blue.duh, frank.

If he continues to pitch that well over the next two weeks and Minor proves to not be a fluke, does Hanson move to the bullpen as well?? What a turn of events that would be. Two guys who were supposed to be bright spots in our rotation end up in the pen and a guy who hadn’t pitched in two years is our ace.

I heard the Braves had a cat swinging contest yesterday. If a fan could swing a cat and hit another fan he or she would be the winner. No winners, The Grand Prize of 3 days and 2 nights high atop Bob’s Garage in beautiful and scenic Ludowici will roll over and continue to do so until someone wins.

I don’t know how any person, including the one who typed it, could fins this comment humors. The bar is pretty low in more than one area in Philly, I see. Heard the Phrils used the extra payroll they created trading away their outfield on employing Matt Diaz to take down all the superphans who run on to the field thrice a week while he’s on the DL.

Brandon, you heard, from whom Weinus Envy? You have a lot to say for a boy who has never been out of Georgia. Let me tell you, son, there is a lot more to the world than pecan, peaches, and the Stone Mountain monument to terrorists Get a passport and maybe you can see the real America..

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