May 25, 2009 at 7:57 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves
Note: Post Updated on 5/25/2009. See the bottom of the article.
It’s no secret that the Braves are lacking offensive production, especially in the power department. They’re 12th in the league in runs scored, 13th in Home Runs, and 13th in slugging percentage. And it’s no secret where they’re deficient. Chipper Jones, Yunel Escobar, Casey Kotchman, and Brian McCann are not the issues. The outfield and Kelly Johnson’s patented slump are holding back the offense. Jeff Francoeur is a black hole that sucks in outs, Jordan Schafer is a rookie that skipped AAA and had his AA season shortened by 30%, and a platoon of Garret Anderson and Matt Diaz just isn’t good enough, especially considering the other concerns in the outfield. While Matt Diaz has been the most productive member of the outfield hitting .288/.369/.466 in 84 PA’s, he doesn’t figure to have much value outside of a platoon role or right-handed bench bat. The others have been abysmal. Anderson is hitting .250/.277/.307, Schafer is hitting .220/.342/.318, and Francoeur is hitting .252/.257/.361. Now, I understand Schafer is a rookie and he’ll have his inevitable struggles, and I think he’s providing plenty of value with his glove and arm, but the corner positions are absolutely abysmal and something must be done. None of these performances would be justified even at a challenging defensive position like SS or Catcher, much less at the corners of the outfield.
I’ve put on my GM cap for the evening, and I have a plan to fix this offense. It involves some pretty large shake-ups, but it will get the job done. I like youth and the Braves are dealing with very limited funds, so this plan rules out the possibility of bringing in an over-priced veteran. I also like the idea of succeeding beyond 2009, so this plan doesn’t involve a rental player. It involves bringing in dynamic, young players to re-vamp the offense. Right now the offense looks like a group that just doesn’t want to win. Executing this plan would bring a new level of energy to the club. Get that “loser” mentality out of their head and bring in a winning attitude.
Getting something for Jeff Francoeur is key. It’s time for him to go. The organization knows this, most educated fans know this, all the experts know this, and I think even Jeff knows it. Since he’s a fairly worthless player, getting something for him is going to be tricky, but there’s a GM in Major League Baseball that has some sort of inexplicable crush on him. That GM’s name: Dayton Moore of the Kansas City Royals. There were rumors of a Zach Greinke for Jeff Francoeur swap in the off-season. They were bogus rumors, Moore isn’t stupid. But Moore did respond to the rumor by shooting it down and praising Francoeur in the same breath. He’s always loved Francoeur. I don’t get it, but he does. Hence, my plan begins.
What can the Royals offer us that will help us right now? Their OF all make too much money or aren’t good enough to acquire, but they’ve got a guy on their team who may become expendable once Alex Gordon returns from the Disabled List. It’s a guy you’ve probably never heard of, and I really hadn’t before this season, but he’s putting on one heck of a show over in KC. His name is Alberto Callaspo. His minor league line of .317/.369/.436 isn’t too impressive, and his major league line of .283/.338/.374 is even more unimpressive. He does play decent enough defense and can play 2nd, 3rd, SS, LF, or RF, and he does walk more than he strikes out. What I do know is that he’ll be a consistent MLB producer because of his contact rate. He puts the ball in play 84% of the time compared to the MLB average of 69%. When you’re putting the ball in play that much, you’re going to get hits. You don’t have to get lucky. Sending Francoeur, someone that the Royals (against all reason) value, along with another minor league infield prospect, like a Diory Hernandez, J.C. Holt, or Van Pope, and a relief pitcher like a Luis Valdez or Mariano Gomez would probably net the Braves Alberto Callaspo.
So far, I really haven’t fixed anything. I’ve slightly upgraded the 2B position but our outfield is still crap. We’ve got a vacancy in RF, which Diaz and Kelly Johnson could most undoubtedly fill more adequately than Francoeur, but we’ve still got a long way to go and Garret Anderson is STILL our every-day left fielder. Here comes the big part. And I mean big. Blockbuster, we’re talking here. And I’ll tell you what it is in 3….2….1.
Carlos Quentin. There, I said it. Yes, I’m crazy. I just suggested we try to pry a guy who in 130 games last year hit .288/.394/.571 with 36 HR, 26 2B, posted an OPS+ of 148, scored 96 runs, drove in 100 runs, and received 41% of the voting share for AL MVP even though he was out for the last month of the season. Oh yeah, he’s also only 26 years old and isn’t yet arbitration eligible, so he makes the league minimum. Can you think of a more difficult player to acquire in a trade?
Well, probably, but there aren’t many. The good news is this is his last pre-arbitration year. He’ll get more pricey each year from 2010 to 2012 when he’s eligible to become a free agent. He’s not represented by Scott Boras, though, so signing him to an extension that locks him up long-term and/or controls the cost of his arbitration years isn’t out of the equation (which makes the proposition of moving him less desirable for the White Sox). With the back-story complete, I’ll attempt to answer the question, “What’ll it COST, Man?”.
The answer: a lot. As always, it starts with a pitcher. In this case, seeing as they’re trying to win right now, it’d have to be a MLB ready pitcher. And I don’t see him being moved without Tommy Hanson or Jair Jurrjens involved. Maybe you use Kris Medlen or Charlie Morton to start the package, but without Hanson or Jurrjens, I think [White Sox GM] Kenny Williams probably hangs up the phone. And the White Sox don’t even listen unless they’re improving their team right now, so the fun doesn’t stop with one of our two best young pitchers. Next, you give them something to replace the pop they’re missing with Quentin. Barbaro Canizares was born the be a DH, and he could probably even handle left at US Cellular Field. He’s probably the next piece of the deal, since the Braves have no use for a DH. We’re still not there, though. Helping the White Sox offensive issues is the next step, and they’re having problems producing at 2B and 3B. Alexei Ramirez can play 3B, SS, or 2B, but Kelly Johnson could plug one of the 2B or SS holes, and he’s still a valuable offensive player who is sought after by many clubs. The acquisition of Callaspo along with the reality of Omar Infante returning in a matter of months and Martin Prado as a serviceable utility infielder makes Kelly Johnson expendable from the Braves organization’s standpoint. So, we’re at Kelly Johnson, Barbaro Canizares, and one of Jurrjens and Hanson for Quentin. In order to make this deal work, the White Sox are going to need more to help them win now. A reliever, perhaps. The two I mentioned for the Callaspo trade, Valdez or Gomez, would be good candidates. Send the one you didn’t send to Kansas City to Chicago for Quentin.
Finally, in order to sort out some organizational depth and blockage problems while sweetening the deal for both sides, send Gorkys Hernandez, our 3rd best position player prospect who plays a blocked position (by Jordan Schafer) to Chicago and Chicago sends Dayan Viciedo, a young (19 years old), Cuban 3B prospect who plays a position that will eventually be blocked by a combination of Alexei Ramirez, Chris Getz, Kelly Johnson, and their top prospect, Gordan Beckham.
So, the Braves net Dayan Viciedo and Carlos Quentin while the White Sox net one of Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, Barbaro Canizares, Kelly Johnson, one of Luis Valdez and Mariano Gomez, and Gorkys Hernandez.
On the other front, the Kansas City front, that is, the Braves give up Jeff Francoeur, one of Luis Valdez and Mariano Gomez (so they’ll both ultimately be gone), and one of Diory Hernandez, J.C. Holt, and Van Pope and net Alberto Callaspo.
Overall, the Braves team looks like this:
LF – Quentin
CF – Schafer
RF – Diaz /B. Jones or G. Anderson
1B – Kotchman
2B – Callaspo
3B – Chipper
SS – Escobar
C – McCann
Bench: Prado, Ross, Norton, Diaz/G. Anderson/B. Jones, and another utility infielder.
Rotation options: Lowe, Vazquez, one of Hanson and Jurrjens, Kawamaki, Medlen, Morton, Hudson (in August), Reyes, Glavine, and if you’re desperate in July, Ben Sheets will be available.
Bullpen remains the same: Gonzalez, Soriano, Moylan, O’Flaherty, Bennett, Carlyle, and Acosta/Parr/Campillo/etc.
The White Sox come out looking like:
LF – Barbaro Canizares/Scott Podsednik/Jayson Nix
CF – Brian Anderson
RF – Jermaine Dye
1B – Paul Konerko (Canizares back-up)
2B – Chris Getz
SS – Kelly Johnson
3B – Alexei Ramirez
DH – Thome (Canizares backup)
Bench: 1 of Canizares/Nix/Podsednik, Corky Miller, Wilson Betemit, and Josh Fields
Rotation: Buherle, Danks, Floyd, Jurrjens/Hanson, Colon/Contreras/Richard
Bullpen: Jenks, Thornton, Valdez/Gomez, Dotel, Linebrink, Carrasco, Broadway
And the Royals:
1B – Billy Butler/Mike Jacobs
2B – Mark Teahen
3B – Alex Gordon
SS – Mike Aviles
LF – David DeJesus/Jose Guillen
CF – Coco Crisp
RF – Jeff Francoeur
C – Miguel Olivo
DH – Mike Jacobs/1 of the LF/Billy Butler
Bench: Jacobs, DeJesus/Guillen, Diory Hernandez/J.C. Holt/Van Pope, John Buck, Willie Bloomquist
Rotation: Greinke, Meche, Davies, Bannister, 5th starter
Bullpen: Farnsworth, Cruz, Gomez/Valdez, Mahay, Tejada, Wright, Ponson
The Royals get their coveted Francoeur, improve their bullpen, and lose a little bit of quality in their utility player. Probably something they’d be willing to do given Moore’s irrational love of Francoeur. The White Sox improve their starting rotation, bullpen, infield, and get a prospect who will undoubtedly be at least their 4th best prospect, and add flexibility at the LF, 1B, and grab their DH of the future while sacrificing the organizational depth at 3B and giving up one of the best young outfielders in the game. It’s a tough proposition to swallow. You’re talking about dealing an untouchable player for an untouchable player. But when you think about it, it makes sense. Nobody is untouchable, they just have higher prices than others. And when 2 teams have untouchable players that fill each others needs, a swap makes sense.
And the Braves improve their outfield, get more versatile with their infield, and add some speed while sacrificing some organizational pitching depth, one of the best young starters in the game, and sacrifice some organizational depth with their infield. They also gain a lower minor league 3B prospect and give up a AA CF prospect.
Braves send: One of Jurrjens and Hanson, Kelly Johnson, Barbaro Canizares, Jeff Francoeur, Mariano Gomez, Luis Valdez, Gorkys Hernandez, and one of the following: J.C. Holt, Van Pope, and Diory Hernandez.
Braves receive: Carlos Quentin, Alberto Callaspo, and Dayan Viciedo.
White Sox send: Quentin and Viciedo.
White Sox receive: One of Jurrjens and Hanson, Kelly Johnson, Barbaro Canizares, Gorkys Hernandez, and one of Mariano Gomez and Luis Valdez.
Royals send: Alberto Callaspo.
Royals receive: Jeff Francoeur, one of Mariano Gomez and Luis Valdez, and one of the following: J.C. Holt, Diory Hernandez, and Van Pope.
Now, this is bound to stir up a LOT of contraversy. I want there to be plenty of discussion, but for the sake of discussion, throw out the “untouchable” label. Because in reality, nobody is untouchable. Frame your discussion around the question “What would it take to get X?” not “There’s no way Y team will give up X”. And as always, please be respectful. And have fun. Throw out an even crazier idea than I had (if there is one). I’d love to hear them all. Please do share.
Update: White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf gave an interview in which he implied that nobody on his club is untouchable. I guess Quentin doesn’t fit into the scope of “nobody”.