I’ve Got a Feeling

The Braves are in a tough situation.

  • Three of the five opening day starters are on the DL. Hudson should come back shortly, Thomson seems to be progressing nicely but will be out through the All-Star break, and Hampton…I think he’s done for the year. Mystery injuries normally don’t signal a quick resolution.
  • Chipper Jones still has at least another month in the boot, and it’s not clear that the treatment will work.
  • The bullpen has not been good lately.
  • Brian Jordan has been awful.
  • The division race is tight.

The Braves need arms and possibly another bat in the outfield (although Langerhans and Johnson might yet prove to be acceptable full-time corners). Couple this with the fact that the Braves have a logjam in the infield. Furcal, Marte, Betemit, and Giles are having to rotate to create playing time for all the players who need or expect to get a lot of ABs. The obvious solution is to trade one of these guys (and possibly Johnson or Langerhans if an outfielder came back in a deal) for some pitching.

Everyone wants to trade Furcal (I’d be for it), but the problem is that I’m not sure what the Braves could get for him. He’s making nearly $6 million, in the midst of a horrible season (.221/.274 /.346), and he’ll only be a one-season rental because he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year. And because Furcal is a free agent, the Braves certainly don’t want to trade Betemit (who’s suddenly playing up to his top-prospect status). So…here’s what my felling is.

I think there is a decent chance that Braves may trade Marcus Giles. I like Giles, and I would hate to see him leave; but, if the Braves want to acquire a good pitcher, they will have to give up something good. Here’s why I think Giles is the most likely candidate to be moved.

  • Giles’s value is pretty high. He’s young, arbitration eligible for two more years (I think it’s two), and is a pretty darn good player to have at second base.
  • Moving Giles would give Betemit the ABs he’s earned and free up some room in the budget.
  • Another thing about Giles is that he doesn’t seem to have regained (or maybe he never really had) the power he showed in 2003 (Iso-Power = .148 compared to his 2003 Iso-power =.211). His PrOPS also show he’s actually played a little worse than his stats (PrOPS = .722 vs. OPS = .769).

Anyway, it’s just a feeling. I really wish Furcal was having a good season, because the Braves can finally afford to move him and the market for shortstops is through the roof. There is also possibility that there is a team out there willing to take him just to ink him to a long-term deal for a discount while his output is low.

Also, it will be interesting to see what happens when Chipper comes back. If Marte is playing the way he’s played so far, he’ll just go to Richmond. However, if he turns it on, Adam LaRoche is going to be on the hot-seat. If Marte and Chipper are both going to be part of the Braves for the next few years, Chipper is going to play first base.

(Thanks Aaron for the correction. :) )

7 Responses “I’ve Got a Feeling”

  1. Chuck Oliveros says:

    If the Braves trade Giles, who would play second? It’s not clear that Betemit could handle it. He’s a pretty big guy and I’m not so sure he has the agility to handle the double play as a 2B. Furcal could be moved to second but, with his arm, I’m guessing Bobby would want to keep him at SS.

  2. JC says:

    I’d feel comfortable with either Furcal or Betemit at second. And if the defense is too shaky, Orr could sub in where necessary.

    I think the Braves really want to keep Giles, possibly enough to sacrifice this season even if they could get to the post-season by trading him. I just don’t know how badly they want to win this year, or whether trading Giles is really necessary to get to the post-season. It’s just that as I think about the trade possibilities with the infield, this one seems the most likely. And no one has really mentioned it.

  3. Aaron says:

    Small correction: one of the “Hudson”s in your first sentence should be “Hampton”.

    I think no one has really mentioned Giles because he’s the only stable figure on the entire team. Andruw has huge slumps and streaks. Furcal’s forgotten how to get on base. Chipper’s been injured. All the starters are hurt except for Smoltz, and he’s just coming back from being a closer. Everyone else is either in flux or a rookie. Marcus is in the only stable position on this team, so most people are probably thinking he’d be the last to go.

  4. Marc Schneider says:

    I don’t think they should trade Giles unless they get someone that will help the team long-term. I like the way the rookies are starting to improve and I’m hopeful this will be the basis of a team that they can actually keep together for a few years, rather than having to scramble every year. IMO, that might be worth sacrificing another division title that’s unlikely to lead to the world series anyway. If they can get a fairly young no. 2 or 3 starter, I would be ok with it, but I wonder if Giles would be enough for that.

  5. Marc Schneider says:

    JC made an interesting point about Giles which, to me, is symptomatic of most of the players the Braves have developed during the division title run. That is, the players they have developed come up with high expectations and generally become solid regulars but always seem to plateau and never seem to take the next step to being really great players. Furcal and Andruw are the two most obvious now. IF JC is right, Giles may be on the same track. And this seems to hold true through the whole run: Javy Lopez, other than in 2003, was a good but certainly not a great player. Justice and Gant both looked like they would be real stars but never really became more than very solid players (in part because of injuries). Betemit is starting to come around but it’s highly questionable that he will ever reach elite status. Even Chipper falls into the category in a way–he was certainly one of the best players in the league in the 90s but has not been in recent years (again, in part due to injuries). The best player (not pitcher) they had was Sheffield, whom they acquired. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens with the new guys–Martie, Johnson, Langerhans, McCann. I hope I’m wrong, but the hype for Martie reminds me of that for Betemit. Of course, there are a lot worse things than developing good but not great players, but I suspect that the inability to produce great hitters has been a major source of the postseason troubles (not that Sheffield set the house on fire either).

  6. Mac Thomason says:

    Betemit sure looks better at short than at second or third, to me anyway. And Furcal’s probably gone after this season, which would leave you with Pete Orr as your starting second baseman for the foreseeable future. You want that?

  7. Tanto says:

    The Braves have no depth at second base, though. They might get to the postseason this year, but then you’d have a gaping hole at second for years, until the Braves come up with a decent substitute.