Results tagged ‘ Matt Diaz ’

Braves and Brewers still attempting to match pieces

The Braves and Brewers have continued to attempt to find the matching pieces to swap a young pitcher for an outfielder.  But late Wednesday morning, they both seemed reluctant to move the piece the other club was seeking. 

There’s no doubt that the Braves have interest in Lorenzo Cain, a 24-year-old center fielder from Valdosta, Ga. But they weren’t willing to acquire at the expense of losing Mike Minor, the 2009 first-round selection that the Brewers requested in exchange. 

The Brewers seem more willing to move Carlos Gomez, a 25-year outfielder who previously played for the Mets and Twins.  Likewise, the Braves seem much more interested in moving any of their young pitching prospects not named Minor, Teheran, Delgado and Vizcaino. 

Speaking of Arodys Vizcaino, a scout said that he saw him touch 96 during an Instructional League game a couple months ago.  That’s very encouraging considering it appeared the 20-year-old right-hander’s elbow was ailing to the point that it appeared he would eventually need to undergo Tommy John surgery this past summer.

Braves general manager Frank Wren has started making inquiries about some left-handed relievers.  But if a refreshed Jose Ortegano continues to pitch like he has recently in Venezuela, he might find himself as a candidate to join Eric O’Flaherty as a situational left-hander.

Ortegano struggled after arriving in Spring Training this past year with a lot of hype.  When his struggles continued into the regular season, the Braves gained the belief that he was simply overworked during last year’s Venezuela Winter League and the Caribbean World Series.

Through his first three appearances (one start) this year, Ortegano has worked 10 1/3 innings, recorded 13 strikeouts, surrendered seven hits and allowed two earned runs. 

Rule 5 outlook: Because he was optioned to Double-A Mississippi a couple weeks ago, Kenshin Kawakami will be eligible for selection in both the Major League and Minor League phases of Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft.

But there’s essentially no reason to believe he will be selected.  The selecting team would be responsible for all of the $6.67 million he is owed this year. 

There is a chance the Braves could lose right-handed pitcher Michael Broadway or left-handed pitcher Scott Diamond in the Rule 5 Draft.

Diamond combined to go 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 27 starts with Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett this past summer. He was 4-1 with a 3.36 ERA in his 10 starts with Gwinnett.

Broadway posted a 4.39 ERA and recorded 57 strikeouts in the 53 1/3 innings he combined to throw for Mississippi and Gwinnett this year. 

Impressed by Hurdle:  After it was announced that he had agreed to a two-year deal with the Pirates late Tuesday night, Matt Diaz said that he was really impressed while meeting Monday night with new Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle. 

Less than one week after being non-tendered, the former Braves outfielder was also comforted with the reality that he will receive $4.25 million over the next two years.  

   
  
 

 

Presley appears close to becoming Orioles hitting coach

In an attempt to promote good health, here are a few tidbits to chew on this Halloween weekend.  In other words, put down the miniature Snickers bar and strengthen your mind by digesting some of this information. In case you forgot, that candy was bought for those Kris Medlen-sized figures who will soon be knocking on your door.

  • The list of candidates to serve as Fredi Gonzalez’s hitting coach appears to have dwindled.  A Major League source said he expects Jim Presley, who handled this same role for Gonzalez in Florida, to soon sign a two-year deal to become Buck Showalter’s hitting coach in Baltimore.
  • Matt Diaz has privately told some friends that he’d be willing to avoid arbitration and sign for the same $2.55 million salary he earned this past year. Still it appears, the Braves will likely non-tender him and possibly re-sign him if he’s willing to play for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1-1.5 million this year.  With this being said, I won’t be surprised to see Diaz end up in Philadelphia with his good friend and offseason neighbor Charlie Manuel.
  • Derrek Lee, Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito have all been classified as Type A free agents.  With Wagner and Saito both possibly contemplating retirement, their status likely won’t affect Frank Wren’s offseason decisions.  But if other teams show strong interest in Lee, the Braves would be able to more comfortably offer him arbitration without the fear that he would accept and gain a salary of more than $13 million for the 2011 season.

Infection will sideline Diaz for an extended period

Yunel Escobar was back in the Braves lineup on Saturday night.  But it could be at least another three weeks before manager Bobby Cox is able to utilize Matt Diaz again. 

Diaz has spent the past three weeks bothered by the same right thumb infection that sidelined him during the final weeks of last season.  When he began bleeding and showing signs of an infection after a pinch-hit at-bat on Friday night,  the Braves determined it was time for him to be further evaluated. 

Noted hand specialist Dr. Gary Lourie will remove a foreign substance from Diaz’s right thumb during a surgical procedure on Wednesday.  While the recovery time is undetermined, Cox knows it will be June before the veteran outfielder is playing again. 

“It will be weeks,” Cox said. “They have to go in there pretty deep.” 

With Diaz unavailable, Eric Hinske will likely see a lot more playing time in left field.  Brent Clevelan has been promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett to at least temporarily serve as an extra outfielder. 

Clevlen, who hit .259 with a homer and 14 RBIs in 26 games with Triple-A Gwinnett this year, was a high school teammate of former Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson, who is in town this weekend with his D-backs teammates. 

The Braves told Clevlen that he was going to the Majors at about 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and approximately one hour later he was getting ready for his new assignment at Turner Field.   He made the 30-minute drive to downtown Atlanta in a car he borrowed from right-handed reliever Stephen Marek, a childhood friend who was recently promoted to the Gwinnett roster.

To make room for Escobar, the Braves sent shortstop Brandon Hicks back to Gwinnett.  Hicks will now spend the next few weeks and months proving that he can develop a swing that would enable him to prove how valuable he can be from a defensive standpoint at the Major League level. 

BRAVES LINEUP vs. D-backs  5/15/2010

Prado 4
Heyward 9
Chipper 5
McCann 2
Glaus 3
Hinske 7
Escobar 6
McLouth 8
Hanson 1    

Diaz back in the leadoff role for series finale

If it ain’t broke, then don’t try to fix it. 

Braves manager Bobby Cox won Wednesday night’s game with Matt Diaz at the top of the lineup and thus it makes sense for him to place the unconventional leadoff hitter back in that same role for this afternoon’s series finale against the Padres.

Regardless of how the Braves fare against Mat Latos and the Padres this afternoon, many of you are going to look back on this road trip with the belief that it should have included one or two more wins (Friday and Sunday’s games).   There’s nothing wrong with that.  Debates are what make the baseball world go round.

Still when you consider how that this trip started with a cross-country flight after a night game in Atlanta that was followed by an emotionally-draining 13-inning loss on Friday,  you have to agree the Braves will have to feel lucky if they are able to complete this California swing with a 3-3 record.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you, how about throwing in the fact that they waited through a 4-hour, 9-minute rain delay only to draw the challenge that Tim Lincecum presented during Sunday afternoon’s loss? 

Regardless of how you assess this trip, a win today keeps the Braves in pretty good position as they head home on Friday to begin a tough six-game stretch against the Rockies and Phillies.

BRAVES LINEUP vs. Padres 4/15

Diaz 7
Prado 4
Jones 5
McCann 2
Glaus 3
Escobar 6
Heyward 9
McLouth 8
Hudson 1      

Has Church played his final game in Atlanta?

Ryan Church made some key contributions after gaining distinction as the man the Braves acquired from the Mets in exchange for Jeff Francoeur on July 10.  But there’s definitely reason to wonder if the veteran outfielder has played his final game in Atlanta. 

Church returned to Viera, Fla. on Friday to be with his wife, Tina, as she gave birth to their second child, Madison Noel, who entered this world at 6 pounds and 11 ounces.
 
With Church unavailable for Friday night’s game against the Nationals, Braves manager Bobby Cox opted to use Omar Infante in right field to spell Matt Diaz, who was scratched from the lineup because of a bruised right thumb.   

Since joining the Braves, Church has hit .260 with two homers and a .749 OPS.   But the soon-to-be 31-year-old outfielder has struggled since his back began to bother him during the latter portion of August.   He hit .207 (6-for-29) while playing in just 13 games (8 starts) since Sept. 1.

As an arbitration-eligible player, Church could see his current $2.8 million salary increased to somewhere around the $3.5 million range next year.  Given his back problems, the Braves may balk at that potential cost and attempt to trade him before having to make a decision about whether or not to tender him a contract. 

Some clubs have already expressed some interest in obtaining Church.  Obviously, the return for the Braves likely wouldn’t be significant. 

The decision regarding Church will be just one of the many facing the Braves this winter.   But it’s quite obvious that they are in a much better position entering this offseason than they were at this time a year ago, when the only definite returnee to their rotation was Jair Jurrjens. 

Can you still Believe?

Postseason hope might not be officially dead in Atlanta.  But I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s currently floating down the E. Coli-infested Chattahoochee River with Chad Paronto on its back.

There’s no doubt that the Braves are capable of sweeping their four-game series against the Nationals this weekend.  But you have to think the Rockies will likely clinch the Wild Card spot by winning at least one of their last four games against the Brewers and the Dodgers, who have lost four straight and five of six during a stretch against the Pirates and Padres.

When Matt Diaz hit his game-tying, three-run homer against the Marlins on Tuesday night, it was still easy to Believe that the Braves were going to find a way to get into the playoffs.

Two losses later, it’s hard to Believe how that one last gasp to keep legit hope alive was destroyed.

While getting picked off third base to end Wednesday night’s game, Diaz went from being the unsung catalyst to the goat in the matter of minutes. 

That same aggressive, shoes-on-fire approach that led Diaz to stray too far off third base was arguably what had allowed the Braves to load the bases in the ninth. 

Had Diaz not busted down the line after producing his two-out grounder, Marlins third baseman Wes Helms might not have rushed his throw that resulted in the inning-extending error.

In the end, there is no excuse for getting picked off in that situation.  Diaz knows that and he’ll continue to be bothered by this event for many days to come.

But as the Rockies continue to roll and the Dodgers continue to slide, Sunday may conclude with the realization that even with a perfect finish the Braves might have found themselves forced to face the fact that the hole they had dug was too deep to escape.

With the playoff picture now fading out of focus, there will still be a few things to follow over the next couple of days.

Perez Watch:  The Indians will likely call the Braves to ask permission to interview bullpen coach Eddie Perez for their vacant managerial role.   While playing in Cleveland in 2002, Perez developed a strong bond with Indians general manager Mark Shapiro. 

While Perez might not yet be deemed ready for a managerial role, it will be interesting to see what he would do if the Indians were to offer him the greater responsibility that he’d experience as their bench coach.

Perez’s ultimate goal is to serve as Bobby Cox’s successor and remain in Atlanta.  But he could also be tempted to leave for a role that would allow him to better prepare himself to serve as a manager in the Majors.

Garret eyeing 2500:  Garret Anderson is just one hit shy of becoming the 90th player in Major League history to record 2500 in his career.  Dating back to the start of 1995, Anderson’s first full season in the big leagues, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are the only players to have compiled more hits.

Chipper needs two more: Chipper Jones remains two homers shy of becoming the first Major Leaguer to ever begin his career with 15 consecutive 20-homer seasons.  I think it’s pretty safe to assume we’ll see the veteran third baseman coming out of his shoes with a couple of swings during this final weekend.

 

  

Lowe has provided value

When Derek Lowe looks back on this season, he’s going to remember plenty of disappointment.   What started out as a promising first year in Atlanta quickly fizzled into one that brought greater reason to wonder how much the Braves might regret giving him a four-year, $60 million contract in January. 

Still through all the troubles, which essentially started during the middle portion of June, Lowe has managed to compile a team-high 15 wins this season, a total that has so far been reached by just five other National League hurlers.

Lowe will be the first to admit that it’s not wise to judge a pitcher’s season via a win-loss record.  But with that being said, dating back to the beginning of the 2000 season, he’s recorded just the 14th 15-win season for a Braves pitcher.

If Jair Jurrjens were to notch his 13th win tonight, the Braves will still have a chance to have three 15-game winners (Lowe and Javy Vazquez included) for the first time since 2002 when Kevin Millwood, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux all reached that mark.  

Through his first 13 starts this season, Lowe went 7-3 with a 3.44 ERA and limited opponents to a .240 batting average.  In the 19 starts that have followed, he has gone 8-6 with a 5.47 ERA and allowed opponents to produce a .343 batting average.

As he was speaking after last night’s win over the Mets, Lowe was interrupted by a reporter who had joined the scrum as Lowe was alluding to the fact that the Braves have 12 more games to hope to gain the miracle to join the postseason mix.

Having heard just part of the statement, the reporter  asked, “what were you talking about, (stinking) 12 games ago or something?

Lowe responded with, “I’ve (stunk) in a lot more than 12 games.  Come on.”
 
When Lowe has struggled this year, there’s no doubt that he’s created a couple of ugly results.   But the Braves still have managed to win 20 of the 32 games that he’s started and there have been just six occasions this year when he’s allowed more than three earned runs. 

While Lowe might not have been the ace that some were hoping he’d suddenly become, he still has proven to be a solid member of the rotation and a strong clubhouse figure,  whose unmatched work ethic has provided a good example to many of the younger players. 

With Tommy Hanson, Jurrjens, and likely either Vazquez or Tim Hudson in place next year, the Braves don’t necessarily need Lowe to serve as an ace.   They can only hope that his dedication to conditioning allows him to continue proving to be a productive presence over the next three years.
 
As we enter the final days of this season, I’d still have to say the Braves should feel fortunate that they provided the large contract to Lowe and didn’t incur the financial and health-related burdens that Jake Peavy or A.J. Burnett would have brought. 

Cox’s future:  Braves manager Bobby Cox still hasn’t revealed his plans for the 2010 season.  But  he has at least provided another hint that he’ll be back next year. 

While talking about next year’s schedule, he asked, “when are we going to Minnesota next year?”

Cox will also refer to the Braves as “we”.  But at the same time I think this provided even more reason to believe that he’s not ready to enter into retirement.  

Citi Field:  While the Mets might not like the dimensions at Citi Field, the Braves have found the new park to be quite accommodating.   

During their seven games in New York this season, the Braves have outhomered the Mets 10-3.  In other words, they compiled 21 percent of the total (48) the Mets have hit in their first 76 home games this year. 

With his solo shot off Derek Lowe last night, Daniel Murphy became the all-time home run leader at  Citi Field with a grand total of six.   In 23 at-bats (or 207 fewer than Murhpy), Matt Diaz has cleared this stadium’s walls three times. 
 

Injury updates from Coors Field

Well there might not be any further reason to wonder whether the Braves will deal Javier Vazquez before the trade deadline.  

Instead it seems like all concerns regarding Vazquez should be centered on his ability to fight through his lower abdominal strain and prolong the success that he enjoyed during the season’s first half.
 
Vazquez’s impressive first half officially came to a close on Thursday evening when the Braves revealed that he’s going to miss Sunday’s scheduled start because of a strained lower abdominal muscle.    He’s been battling the ailment for a couple of weeks and aggravated it while completing  Tuesday night’s gem against the Cubs. 

After receiving the results of an MRI exam that was performed on Thursday in Atlanta, the Braves seem hopeful that Vazquez will be able to make his first turn after the All-Star break.  My guess is that they’ll hold him out until the July 20 game against the Giants.  

It was certainly surprising to hear the Braves say that Vazquez has been bothered by some discomfort for a couple of weeks.   The 32-year-old pitcher has gone 2-3 with a 1.96 ERA over his last eight starts.
 
The Braves said that Vazquez may have aggravated the injury during Tuesday’s sixth inning or while striking out during his seventh-inning at-bat.
 
Either way the Braves don’t seem overly concerned about the injury and they’re hoping they feel the same way next week.
 
Schafer update:   Braves general manager Frank Wren said that Dr. Gary Lourie has once again determined that Jordan Schafer’s left wrist discomfort is caused by a bone bruise.  This was the same diagnosis that was provided when Lourie examined the 22-year center fielder in early June.  <p>

Still it seems like the Braves understand there’s a chance that Schafer will miss the remainder of the season.  

“There’s a chance they may want to do additional therapies beyond what they did the last time, when they prescribed a couple weeks of rest,” Wren said.  <p>

Schafer, who has spent the past month with Triple-A Gwinnett, hasn’t played since aggravating the injury again last Friday night.   If he’s not able to play again the rest of this season, you at least have to wonder if he’ll need to begin the 2010 season in the Minors.  

While Schafer has downplayed the effect of his injury,  there’s no doubt in my mind that it has affected him.  He homered twice during the season’s first three games and then suddenly lost his ability to produce necessary bat speed after injuring the wrist during the season’s fourth game.

I understand Spring Training can fool you. But the guy that hit .204 and struck out 63 times in 50 games with Atlanta, wasn’t the same one that we saw impress on a daily basis in Florida.
 
Francoeur over Diaz:  Many of you have expressed your disbelief in Bobby Cox’s decision to give Jeff Francoeur a third consecutive start in right field on Thursday night.   Without mentioning any names, I’ll just say that you guys are sharing the same views as some of the members of the Braves clubhouse.
 
Look I know that the Braves lost the three games that Diaz started in right field.  And I realize that the Braves have won each of the past seven games that Francoeur has started.
 
But count me among those who can’t understand how you can put Diaz’s hot bat on the bench right now.
  
During his past six starts, Diaz has recorded 12 hits, four of which have gone for extra bases.   Entering Thursday, Francoeur had recorded 12 hits, four of which had gone for extra bases over the course of his previous 51 at-bats.

Will daunting stretch be the turnaround point?

As the Braves prepare for this 13-game stretch that will pit them against the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and Phillies, we can either focus on the tone of “Taps” or take the optimistic approach by taking the belief that this will be the two-week stretch that will turn the whole season around. 

While taking two of three against the Yankees this week, the Nationals provided hope or  at least made Herm Edwards proud by proving that “you play to win the game.”

With their starting rotation, the Braves will at least enter this stretch with the confidence that they’ll have at least be in every game that is played.  But as Jair Jurrjens and Javier Vazquez will be the first to attest, mound dominance will only lead to utter frustration when backed by an offense that has habitually provided minimal support. 

But we’re going to keep things positive and take the assumption that Thursday’s seven-run uprising in Cincinnati was a sign of things to come for Bobby Cox’s offense.  With his four-RBI performance, Nate McLouth showed what he could do at the top of the lineup and at the same time provided himself more reason to feel comfortable within his new enviroment. 

In addition, we were reminded that things seem to click when Martin Prado and Matt Diaz are in the lineup.  Unfortunately the Braves are scheduled to face right-handed starters during each of their next five games and thus we may find ourselves watching much more of Garret Anderson and Kelly Johnson than Diaz and Prado. 

The Braves are 14-11 in the games that Prado has started and 15-13 in the games started by Diaz.  They are 14-10 in games against a left-handed starting pitcher and 17-24 in games during which the opponents starts a right-hander.

During Thursday’s win, Diaz certainly made an impressive bid to earn more time in left field.  His fourth-inning solo homer provided cushion and his sixth-inning leadoff double led to a three-run inning that allowed Tommy Hanson to cruise toward his second straight win. 

But Diaz’s bid to earn more playing time was most significantly enhanced with his fifth-inning diving grab in left-center field with one out and runners on first and second base.  If Anderson had been in left field, that ball gets to the wall, at least one run scores and there’s no guarantee that Hanson would have been able to once again wiggle out of the ensuing jam.

While finding himself in a platoon, Anderson certainly hasn’t provided the offensive production the Braves envisioned.    In 108 at-bats against right-handers, he has hit .231 with a .612 OPS.   In 43 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, he has hit .326 with a .774 OPS. 

Then of course, while hitting .238 with a .670 OPS in June, Anderson hasn’t recently found consistent success against anybody.  At the same time, 2ith a .267 batting average and .746 OPS this month, Diaz hasn’t exactly set the word on fire.

But with his defense and further proof that he is capable of finding equal success against right-handers and left-handers,  Diaz at least provided further reason to argue that he should be seeing more time in left field.

In 60 at-bats against right-handed pitchers this year, Diaz has hit .267 with a .777 OPS.  In 58 at-bats against lefties, he has hit .293 with an .812 OPS. 

Prado’s case: While hitting .306 (15-for-49) against lefties and .238 (15-for-63) against righties, Prado has made it a little harder to argue that he should be seeing more time at second base. 

But his argument proves to be much stronger when you account for the fact that Johnson has hit .148 with an abysmal .402 OPS in 14 games this month.  If a bigger sample size is needed, Johnson has hit .216 with a .630 OPS in his past 27 games. 

Statistically, Johnson has once again proven that he doesn’t necessarily benefit from the platoon that puts him in the lineup against right-handers.   He is hitting .196 with a .569 OPS in 148 at-bats against righties and .303 with a .948 OPS in 66 at-bats against lefties.

Weekend prediction:  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this will be a productive weekend for Jeff Francoeur.  Playing in front of his Boston-area relatives, Frenchy is once again going to prove that he’s one of those guys who can rise to the occasion.  During his only previous three-game series at Fenway Park, he had eight hits, including a double and a homer, in 15 at-bats.

Lowe’s blog is live:  On Saturday, Derek Lowe will be making his first start in Boston since helping the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series.  He talks about some of those memories in the first installment of his new blog.    

Back to life and back to reality

Nate McLouth provided an immediate upgrade and he’ll undoubtedly prove to be an asset to the Braves over the course of the next few years.  But as we’ve seen through the first week of his career in Atlanta, his five-tool talents aren’t great enough to serve as the solution to his new team’s offensive woes. 

When the Braves were shutout during the first two games of the McLouth era, they opted to move their new center fielder into the leadoff spot and magically they found themselves scoring 19 runs during a three-game span that began on Sunday.

But stealing a line from the old Soul II Soul song, the final two games of the Pirates series brought the Braves back to life and back to reality..
 
When the Braves prevented Tommy Hanson from losing his debut on Sunday, they (or Chipper Jones specifically) took advantage of Manny Parra, who has an 11.90 ERA in his past four starts,  and an over-taxed Brewers bullpen.
   
The majority of Monday’s seven-run uprising came at the expense of Zach Duke, who was charged with six runs and 11 hits in six innings.  But this was nothing new for the Braves.  Back in April, when Brian McCann couldn’t see, they actually pounded the left-hander with 12 hits and six runs in six innings.
 
Then Wednesday night, they botched the opportunity that was provided when Charlie Morton’s early exit prompted the impromptu entrance of Jeff Karstens, who had suffered the loss during  Monday’s 15-inning marathon with an 18-pitch outing.
 
With a quick rebound, Karstens allowed one run over 4 1/3 innings and set the stage for Paul Maholm, who allowed one unearned run over seven innings on Thursday afternoon.  Maholm till hasn’t surrendered an earned run in the 14 innings he’s tossed against Atlanta this year.
 
“I thought Maholm pitched another great game, but, we’re saying that too much in here,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. 

Chipper Jones said that Thursday was actually a day when the Braves justifiably had to tip their caps to Maholm.
 
While respecting Jones’ opinion, I’m sticking with Cox and holding the belief that Mike Hampton likely would have already damaged his wrist if he had to tip his hat as frequently as the Braves hitters have this year. 

While hitting .224 on this recently-completed nine-game homestand, the Braves were limited to two runs or fewer five times.  Making matters worse is that they went winless in the four games that their starters allowed two runs or fewer. 

Over the course of the past nine games, the Braves starters allowed 26 earned runs and posted a 3.90 ERA.  Take away Tommy Hanson’s debut and that ERA drops to 3.33. Regardless, either way you look at it, this span should have included more than four wins.

While the Braves were able to at least enhance their feeble outfield production with the acquisition of McLouth, they’ll need to do much more to make the necessary improvements to a lineup that still relies too heavily on the production of Chipper Jones and Brian McCann. 

” If (Brian McCann) isn’t playing and I go O-fer, we’re in trouble,” Jones said. “If I’m not playing and Mac goes O-fer, we’re in trouble.”  

While there was no doubt that this lineup would be centered around Jones and McCann, the Braves obviously were counting on more from Garret Anderson and Jeff Francoeur, whose fourth-inning single on Thursday provided him just his fourth hit in his past 31 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
 
Anderson is who he’s always been minus the power that he displayed during the early years of this decade.   When they signed him, the Braves knew about the fact that he’s a far from vibrant personality.  But it’s safe to say that they envisioned him hitting better than .254 with a .373 slugging percentage through his first 40 games.
 
Anderson’s struggles have only magnified those of Francoeur, whose .621 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) is actually 32 points lower than the mark he produced during last year’s disappointing campaign. 

Courtesy of the disappointing statistics he’s produced over the past two years, Francoeur has been forced to face the reality that he’s subject to regular criticism. 

While being one of the many who have been critical of his production, I would certainly never question Francoeur’s determination and passion for the game. He’s still the same great kid that arrived on the scene four years ago. But he’s currently not the same great player we had envisioned. 

As things currently stand, it’s tough to envision Francouer being back with the Braves beyond this season.  But at the same time, it’s not like Frank Wren is going to his team’s outfield woes by trading him.

While there’s still a chance that the Braves could deal Francoeur at some point this season, they certainly aren’t going to do so until they have somebody capable of filling the right field position.
 
Thoughts of Matt Diaz playing right field every day are erased by the reality that Anderson isn’t capable of playing left field on an everyday basis.  Plus with Jordan Schafer and Brandon Jones currently ailing, I don’t see any other internal options developing any time soon. 

So with limited available funds, the Braves will continue to evaluate the trade market with the hope that it produces a solution before it’s too late. 

To get the return that they are seeking, they will have to supply something significant.  While dealing Javier Vazquez would provide the opportunity to gain some financial breathing room, the Braves may be reluctant to deal him before having a better feel about what they could expect from Tim Hudson during the season’s final two months and next year. 

Without a suitable replacement, it’s also tough to envision trading Yunel Escobar.  But for every sensational contribution the shortstop provides, he seems to further bother his teammates by habitually committing mental mistakes and displaying the flashy personality that infuriates opponents and umpires.    

Wren’s task isn’t an easy one.  But as it becomes harder for him to watch his anemic offense there’s certainly reason to believe he’ll be further motivated to improve it.      

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