The Trading Block

The big question in Bravesnation right now is whom to move before next week’s trade deadline. The most obvious players to go are Mark Teixeira and Will Ohman. Both are free agents at the end of the year and could contribute to a contender for the stretch run. Of course, this means that the Braves cannot expect all that much in return given the lack of long-term control over these players. I don’t see the Braves offering Teixeira arbitration—because he might accept it—therefore a trade is the only way to get any future help from holding Tex’s rights.

But, which other players might the Braves deal?

Kelly Johnson: He’s proved that he is a capable major-league player: an above-average hitter and average defender as a second baseman. He’s arbitration-eligible for the next three years, which means teams might be willing to part with some decent prospects in return for his below-market salary. While I’m a KJ fan and I’d hate to see him go, I will not be surprised if the Braves package him in a deal. Plus, the Braves don’t seem totally enamored with his game.

Tim Hudson: Hudson has been the Braves ace this year, and with John Smoltz’s starting career over, he’s slated to be the number one in 2009 as well. The Braves and Hudson hold mutual options for 2010. Hudson is guaranteed $13 million next season, and the option year includes a $12 million salary with a $1 million buyout. Hudson has been a consistently good for the past few years. His salary is in line with what he is making, but he would probably earn a bit more on the free agent market; therefore, the Braves might be tempted to move him. The downside is that this would be a huge blow to the rotation. While the Braves have some good young arms, we don’t know how good. A quality veteran at the top of the rotation is something the Braves will want if they think they might be in the things in 2009. I say that he stays.

Brian McCann: His contract is affordable, which makes him attractive to many teams. He would bring back a bounty of prospects. But, he is a local kid who’s done good, not just a local kid. I can’t see the Braves parting with McCann.

Jeff Francoeur: Like McCann, he’s a local kid, but that is all he is. Right now, there are probably more calls to trade Jeffy than any other player on the team, because fans usually prefer to trade away bad players. There is no doubt that the Braves could get something in return for him, but I don’t think it would be much. The problem is compensating the Braves for what they will lose on and off the field. In any other organization, Jeffy would be in the minor leagues or spending a large portion of his time on the bench. There would be few fans sporting #7 Francouer jerseys. There would be no bobble-head or t-shirt night in his honor.

No matter how poorly Francoeur plays, he will always have some value in Atlanta, because he is a hometown kid who once did something good. Casual fans don’t hear that giant sucking sound in right field. He is where he is valued the most, and there are no gains from trade from moving him to another team. That is why the Braves will not be trading him this year. In fact, once it’s a near certainty that the Braves won’t make the post-season, I expect the Braves won’t consider sending him to the minors again no matter how he performs. This doesn’t mean that the Braves won’t replace him in the future, but I don’t see much value to doing so now.

22 Responses “The Trading Block”

  1. Ron says:

    I think they will deal Tex if they can get any kind of blue chip outfield or first base prospect for him. They’ll take much less than they traded to get him. OTOH, having him accept arbitration and play for the Braves again next year doesn’t sound terrible at all to me although I can’t imagine why he would want to.

    I’m not sure I agree that KJ is average defensively. At least subjectively he seems to be less than average. I could definitely see him being traded to open a spot for Lillibridge although Brent hasn’t looked all that great at the plate so far in his major league career.

    I can’t imagine trading Tim Hudson. He is cheap for the performance he is giving us and while the team has many promising young starters they would be hard pressed to replace Hudson at the top of the rotation. Hudson would only be traded as part of a total firesale, but I don’t see the Braves going that route. They are only 1 or 2 power hitters away from being a contender next year.

    McCann is staying. Enough said.

    I wish they would trade Francoeur but the fact that they pulled him back up to Atlanta after 3 days makes me think that Wren & co. don’t really grasp the depths of his suckitude. Jeff has reached Kyle Davies territory and needs to be gotten rid of and given the chance to learn how to play baseball in some other organization.

    What about Mike Gonzalez? Many teams could use a closer of his caliber, and on paper at least the Braves have options to replace him for the remainder of this year and next year.

  2. Mac says:

    If the Braves dealt McCann, I would be through.

  3. Jason S. says:

    The only guy I see getting traded is Teixeira and I’d rate that as unlikely to happen.
    The organization has long been completely delusional about their ability to compete. Last summer Schuerholz fixed his problems at first and in the bullpen with late moves, but he overlooked the fact that his pitching staff was paper thin on talent and the complete collapse of the starting pitching doomed the team even though the moves he made worked as expected.

    When Teixeira was acquired, I think there was some irrational hope in the organization that Tex would give the Braves a hometown discount to stay here. It became clear to me in the offseason that this wasn’t going to happen and I think even the Braves understand that now. The problem is that since the Braves won’t be mathematically eliminated by the end of the month and the NL East is weak, they will conclude erroneously that they are “in the race” and keep Tex for a “playoff run” that will surely fizzle out sometime in mid-August. I’d love to see Tex go and the team start to rebuild for the future, but I think the entire organization just doesn’t understand how much rebuilding they have to do to get back to the playoffs, so he stays.

  4. Rick says:

    I don’t see the Braves trading away Teixeira this year. With all the money coming off the books in NYC after this season I do see him joining one of those two teams, especially with Delgado and Giambino as two players with team options. It doesn’t make sense for the Yankees to keep Giambino with his age. Delgado I could possibly see being kept, but they need to make a splash in their new home tow and they will have a lot more revenue to throw around with the new stadium. And Omar might be dumb enough to think that Teixeira is an Hispanic name.

    I can also see them offering him arb, history with Maddux aside because there is no way that he accepts arb unless Cashman has a stroke and keeps Giambino. signing a young, quality player like Teixeira is a lot more logical than keeping either Delgado or Giambino.

    Other suitors could be the Dodgers or the Angels. They can afford him and they both have a need.

    I can see them dealing Ohman because good pitching is always valuable and they could probably get more for him than they could Teixeira.

    You couldn’t get a bag of balls for Francoeur, much less quality prospects. They are going to see if he can work out his problems, as vast as they are, at the plate before they do anything with him. Like JC said, they have too much at stake with marketing and sponsors, to dump him right now.

    I don’t want them to get rid of Johnson. He needs some more time at 2B to develop defensively.

    McCann is not going anywhere Mac. The second most difficult player to develop behind starting pitching is catcher that can hit. If he’s traded, Wren should be fired.

  5. Frank says:

    I think Ohman is more likely to go that Tex. I think there’s more of a market for relievers than for 1B; I also think Wren will be hesitant to deal Tex after paying so much for him last year. Of course last year is a sunk cost and last year he was getting 1.4 seasons of Tex rather than 0.4 seasons, but I still think he’ll be afraid of criticism.

  6. Frank says:

    One more point that I think will make the Braves less likely to move Tex than Ohman–I don’t think they have any interest in signing Ohman for, say, 3 yrs $15m but do have a slim–very slim–chance of resigning Tex. While they can resign him even if they trade him, I think it is another factor against a trade happening.

  7. Greyson says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ohman traded, they could get some quality prospects in return and he isn’t going to be able to land us 2 top draft picks if he leaves at the end of the season like Tex. Unless Tex collapses over the last few months, which is the opposite of what he’s known to do, I don’t think he’d accept arbitration, for obvious reasons with all the freed up money up there in New York… and if he does collapse and accept I’d love to see him back for another season at a reasonable price… it gives Jason Heyward one more year to develop into Fred McGriff, which he’s going to need.

    Either way I don’t see Frank Wren throwing in the towel, so I wouldn’t imagine Tex will be traded unless they can get more than half of what we gave up for him. I’m not sure I understand where everyone is willing to concede the season already… perhaps it’s my rose-colored glasses again, but I do seem to recall watching the Mets tank last season, and if Tex can match what he did last August-October, and Chipper keeps up what he’s doing we’ve got an outside shot to make a run for the division… Imagine if Frenchy has an epiphany and starts playing like he has in the past, or better, and Hampton or Glavine has a miraculous renaissance. I’m not saying it’s a great chance, but I’ve seen the Braves make good from worse situations before. There is still a long season ahead of us, and I wouldn’t be surprised if moves made make us look more like “buyers” than “sellers.”

    Btw, I love how you used this post as another way of knocking Francoeur, and the thought of either him or McCann being dealt is just silly… though I don’t fault you for addressing it since it is bound to come up in rumor mills. Oh, and you’re right that Hudson isn’t going anywhere either (see “not throwing in the towel” thoughts above.) As for Mike Gonzalez, I’m sure they’d rather keep him and trade Soriano at this point, but Rafael is going to have to prove he’s healthy and then clear waivers to make that work… but I think he could clear waivers with that $7.1 million price tag hanging out there for next season. Meanwhile, speaking of young Braves that you’ve washed up, look at Horacio Ramirez’s work with the Royals and tell me you wouldn’t consider tradebacks on that deal (I never thought I’d say THAT.)

  8. Greyson says:

    Oh, and since we’re still on the subject, here’s another Bobby Cox managed young outfielder with a downturn in his 4th season: .256/.359/.446 with 129 Runs Produced, David Justice in 1992. Again slightly better than Frenchy’s stats this year, but if he rallies I wouldn’t be surprised to see him surpass any or all of these numbers. I’d put money down that he produces more runs.

    I think we can probably agree this is a more cautious projection of talent than Andruw or Dale, but DJ still came back to hit 40 HR the next year and finish 3rd in MVP voting. Despite this year-long slump he became a 3-time All-Star and is a member of the Braves Hall of Fame.

  9. Mac says:

    Slightly better?!?!? Justice’s OBP and SLG were far above the league. Francoeur couldn’t see Justice’s numbers with a telescope. Justice’s 1992 was a combination of injury and normal BABIP variation.

  10. Cliff says:

    Grayson,

    Like many, you don’t get it. An On Base Percentage is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT offensive statistic. Changing any other number that is not a DIRECT component of runs (like Home Runs or Runs Scored) does not impact team offense as much. Francoeur made a major move last year to get near league average at 330.

    Your Justice numbers offered result in an 805 OPS. In a down year. Braves don’t have any outfielder in that territory this year. Francoeur has never met it except maybe in his first partial season. And, at above .790, that does produce VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT PLAYER in right field.

    Calling Francoeur’s situation a “slump” is either ignorant or disingenuous. Francoeur’s problem is a fundamental lack of proper approach to hitting. He needs a new swing. He needs new plate discipline.

  11. Frank says:

    Francouer sucks. Period.

  12. Greyson says:

    Mac and Cliff,

    First off, I’m not necessarily comparing Jeff directly with these guys (Andruw, Dale, DJ,) but I’m comparing their development. All of these guys had similar year-long slumps at just about the same age and experience level of Frenchy. About the time you’d expect pitchers to have enough information spread throughout the league to start universally making well-educated adjustments.

    David Justice, one of my childhood favorites, might have been hurt, but I’d doubt he was really hurt any more than Jeff has been for most of the season… it’s just that Jeff goes out there everyday to give what he’s got, for better or worse. Nonetheless Jeff is on pace to produce 128 runs, just one shy of David’s number. Of course DJ was also batting cleanup behind the reigning NL MVP, and either/both of a couple of guys who could still steal 50 bases if we signed them up tomorrow. Meanwhile, Frenchy’s primarily been batting 6th behind a trio that couldn’t beat Otis Nixon to second today if you spotted them 90 feet, and are more likely to clear the bases with homers and double plays than anything else. Justice also benefited by playing 81 games in a place known as “The Launching Pad” instead of the pitcher-friendly park we’ve got today.

    If Francoeur was going to be batting leadoff I’d really obsess over his OBP. Now if Billy Beane ever wins a world series I’ll take a longer look at OBP as a possible “king” of stats, but until then, when it comes to corner outfielder, middle-of-the-lineup type players I prefer looking at run production. With nearly 20 years of Braves fan experience behind me I’ve seen enough runners left stranded to realize that the ones that scored were the ones that really counted.

    Francoeur may not be the next Chipper Jones, and his numbers alone may not deserve the media frenzy, but if he can add some consistency to the numbers he has put up over the last three seasons, he’s going to be a pretty valuable and loyal commodity for many years to come.

  13. Mac says:

    Claiming that hitting behind Terry Pendleton (and his .345 OBP) is an advantage compared to hitting behind Chipper, Teixeira, and McCann is one of the silliest things I have ever seen.

  14. Victor says:

    “All of these guys had similar year-long slumps at just about the same age and experience level of Frenchy.”

    Slump is a understatement. There is a fundamentally wrong way with the way Francoeur plays. He has virtually plate discipline and plate recognition. .256/.359/.446 means you’re taking a lot of walks at least. .233/.288/.373 means you are clueless at the plate. .070 more OBP, .070 more slugging. That’s night and day. Francoeur’s approach is just UGLY. And if you think the park gave Justice a big advantage, then I’ll give you a park adjusted stat. Francoeur OPS+ 76: Justice OPS+: 121

    Francoeur is also hitting behind MUCH better hitters than Justice was. Here’s Gant, Pendleton, and Nixon’s OBP, respectively, for 1992: .321, .345, .348. Here’s Chipper, Teix, and McCann’s: .469, .383, .377. Not to mention that the 3 people hitting in front of Francoeur hit a ton more doubles, giving him easier RBI opportunities. I don’t care how fast Nixon runs when he’s not on base as often and he has to be scored form 1st. I’ll take Chipper’s crippled legs from 2nd any day.

    “If Francoeur was going to be batting leadoff I’d really obsess over his OBP.”
    You should obsess over OBP for your entire lineup because it has a HUGE correlation with scoring runs. Some fancier stats like GPA have a higher correlation, but OBP has a very high one. And no reason to knock Beane. He’s a genius at what he does.

    “I prefer looking at run production.”
    Here’s the criteria for a run producer:
    – Makes outs at a lower rate than other players (example: OBP)
    – Lots of extra base hits (example: slugging %)
    You can combine these 2 things into one stat such as OPS, OPS+, EQA, GPA, etc…

    These two things correlate with run production the most. That’s why elite hitters like Pujols, A-Rod, Chutley, Chipper, etc… get on base a lot and smack the ball for extra bases.

    RBIs + Runs score – HR is a horrible way to judge run production. You Chipper, Tex, BMac in front of Francoeur and he’s going to have more RBI than A-Rod with Melky, Molina, and Shelley Duncan batting in front of him. These stats are too line-up dependent. Look at stats that only measure the individual’s performance. They are a MUCH better measurement of how good a player is.

    “he’s going to be a pretty valuable and loyal commodity for many years to come.”

    I think Francoeur can still be an above average major leaguer. He’s just so talented. He just needs to figure out how to play. But he is NOT loyal. He turned down the same contract McCann took, but Francoeur’s giant ego thought he could get David Wright money. Francoeur is a me first guy. That’s why he whined when he got sent down for his awful production and plate approach.

    I’m just tired of people making excuses for Francoeur. He’s not good. He has never been anything more than an average major leaguer at best. People will give examples of Murphy, Jones, or Justice having down years during their young careers, but the neglect to mention that those players had PLATE DISCIPLINE (Andruw’s disappeared). Francoeur’s problems are beyond his horrible numbers. It’s his attitude towards the game, image of himself (as the next great ballplayer?), and his approach ate the plate.

  15. leviinalaska says:

    My two cents:

    Teixeira & Ohman: Without debating what they are actually “worth,” I feel confident that the Braves won’t re-sign either one of them at seasons end. If a halfway decent deal can be swung…it’s time to trade them away.

    Kelly Johnson: I’ve never understood why he gets a such a bad rap. If anyone here can explain it to me, I’m willing to learn. I think he should stay around. He’s proven that he is MLB caliber so why package him away? If push comes to shove, trade Lillibridge instead.

    Hudson: Hasn’t been the stud we hoped for when initially acquiring him, but is still performing at market value or above and (barring some unforeseen fabulous deal) should not be traded. Other than JJ, our SP next year looks shaky…let’s hold on to what we have here.

    Brian McCann: I don’t think the idea of trading McCann is a serious one. (Besides, keeping him around gives Frenchy a buddy to “look up to.”)

    Jeff Francoeur: What is there to say that hasn’t been said? Lots of talent, needs some seasoning. Probably worth more to hold on to than in trade. Not sure what to “do” about him. I guess that’s why BC and TP are the coaches and I am not! I hope they figure out something soon…

  16. Rick says:

    By “run production” I take it you mean RBIs. RBIs are more of a team stat because you have to rely on the actions of others. It’s really not that good of a stat to judge whether someone is good or not.
    OBP is not the “king of stats”. It is one stat that you use to see how effective someone is at the plate.
    If you go back and look at the 2007 team stats on espn.com you will see that the teams with the highest OBP and the highest slugging also scored the most runs in most cases. because of the high OBP and slugging, they also tended to have the highest numbers of RBIs. You can’t just look at one stat, especially a counting stat, to judge how effective a player is offensively.

  17. CG Hudson says:

    Something for Frank Wren to consider this offseason: a “challenge” trade with Florida of struggling Atlanta native outfielders, Jeff Francoeur for Jeremy Hermida. The change of scenery might do them both a world of good and help determine if either one has a shot at salvaging something resembling a career.

  18. JC says:

    I’d be all for that. Cobb County crushes Gwinnett County any day of the week. ;-) However, I don’t think that Marlins would go for that.

  19. jpwf13 says:

    “Something for Frank Wren to consider this offseason: a “challenge” trade with Florida of struggling Atlanta native outfielders, Jeff Francoeur for Jeremy Hermida.”

    Hermida hit .296/.369/.501 last year, and .259/.330/.425 this year, Frenchy hit .293/.338/.444 last year and .234/.290/.372 this year.

    Frenchy is more athletic and a better fielder, and healthier more durable to boot- but I still wouldn’t do it if I was Florida.

    The plate discipline/pitch recognition Hermida had in the minors has largely disappeared in the majors, but he has shown that skill- Frenchy has NEVER displayed that skill.

    Personally I think Frenchy’s career is gonna end up a lot like Corey Patterson’s

  20. Sergio says:

    If anybody gets dealt its Yuniel and not Lilibridge. Yuniels antics rubbed some teams and even umpires the wrong way and Lilibridge has prooved he can handle SS defensively. I dont see why you deal KJ whose coming into his own at seccond.

  21. Greyson says:

    1st off, for Sergio, Yunel isn’t going anywhere, he’s an all-star in the making.

    But wow, I’m not sure I’ve ever received so much attention. At least I’ve got some decent comments this time. Thanks for the healthy debate, and now I guess I should just bookmark Frenchy’s Baseball-Reference page since I’ve visited it so many times this week.

    Rick: When I talk about run production I’m refering to the rarely known/used stat “Runs Produced” which as Victor tells us is derived from RBI + RS – HR (you subtract the home runs so as not to count a single run as both an RBI and a RS.) It is, as it says, the exact assesment of the runs a player HAS produced, excluding runs knocked in on errors and double plays, etc. I’m not saying it is an excellent judge of what a player WILL produce in the future, but I have yet to come up with a real good determinant of that, or I’d be publishing books instead of blog comments and I’d be collecting an executive salary somewhere. However, I think it is fair to say that a player’s past performance is a reasonable starting point for future projections.

    Going into yesterday, Frenchy had 477 RP in 488 career games, which is roughly 1 run a game (0.98 to be exact,) and if we only look at his awful 2008 season he’s still at 0.83. For comparison, Brian McCann, who rightly is a cornerstone of the franchise despite the fact that he can’t throw runners out to save his life, has a career average of 0.89 a game and an ’08 average of 0.88, and Kelly Johnson another promising young player is at 0.93 for his career, and 0.91 in ’08. As for the others: Dave Justice’s career ended with a 1.02 average, Dale Murphy after his declining years was down to 0.95, and Andruw Jones is currently just over 1.00 and falling fast (he’s barely over 0.5 in ’08.) Of course all this doesn’t include statistics on runs stopped defensively, or runs allowed through errors, and if it did Frenchy’s and Andruw’s total run differential would be a good deal better.

    I don’t mean to knock Billy Beane, he’s very good at dissecting statistics and he’s made a big impact on the game, but all his “genius” still hasn’t resulted in any pennants flying in Oakland. Billy’s method, as opposed to mine, is a great way of identifying great potential in players on bad teams, or good players wh played under bad circumstances on good teams, which are two areas where prospects have been overlooked historically. OBP and SLG obviously are important stats, but by no means are they the end of the conversation. There isn’t a single manager in the history of the game who wouldn’t take a player that would consistently go 1/5 with an RBI or a RS every game, despite the fact that their OBP would be a horrid .200!

    I’ll move the rest of my commentary to the new thread.

  22. Greyson says:

    Oh, and lastly, on loyalty. Loyalty is a relative term in professional sports. You can’t blame a guy for doing what is best for his family and both Jeff and Brian did just that. Jeff did turn down “Brian McCann money” for “Jeff Francoeur money” which happens to be about 36% less than Mac got in 2007, but with his rights owned by Atlanta regardless this has no real bearing on where he will play the majority of his career. Jeff made a financial decision that his future earnings would justify a higher salary, and now he has to prove this. If Brian McCann didn’t play the catcher position he would’ve made the same decision, but with visions of Ray Fosse and Greg Olson in the not too distant memory he made a safer bet and went with the guaranteed contract.

    If Atlanta continues to support him the way we have Jeff will continue to love the city and the organization, which will undoubtedly give us the inside-track in keeping him around with perhaps a modest hometown discount.