Off Day Open Thread–Mid-Season Trades

There’s been a lot of discussion lately in these parts and elsewhere on the interwebs about improving the current Braves’ roster through a trade or trades. That’s what happens when you find yourself in first place in mid to late June. When teams are in this position–certainly unexpected and unfamiliar territory for Braves fans lately—they inevitably explore what it will take to remain on top the rest of the way.

I’m not smart enough to advise AA regarding whom to trade for whom. What I do know is that there is a lot of risk in these types of trades. It’s a complex decision with many variables and competing values at stake. Most obviously, making a shrewd trade of prospects for established stars requires looking into a crystal ball, and as Yogi Berra (or was it Niels Bohr?) said, predictions are difficult, especially about the future.

But even if you could predict the future with any accuracy, you still must deal with the values question: Is it more important to win this year, regardless of the impact on future seasons? Or do you prioritize keeping a strong core of players for multiple seasons? One the one hand, flags fly forever. On the other hand, would you rather be a Marlins fan between 1993-2005, or a fan of the Braves of the same era? I know the Fish won two World Series to the Bravos’ lonely championship, but from a fan standpoint there is something to be said for being in a pennant race every year.

I know whereof I speak. I was an Atlanta Braves fan for the first 25 years of their existence; between 1966 and 1990, they had only one season in which they won more than 90 games, and they were in contention in September no more than three or four times.

Anyway, sometimes mid-season trades of prospects for stars work, and sometimes they don’t. (How is that for profound?) I assume pretty much all of you on BJ remember the trade for Teixeira in 2007. Obviously that is one of the failures—to understate the case. Although Tex was quite good for the Braves, the team didn’t make the playoffs, he was gone a year later, and the team failed to make the playoffs the next three years. Four of the prospects traded for Teixeira–Andrus, Perez, Harrison, and Saltalamacchia (still holds the record for the most syllables in any MLB player’s surname—I dare you to find a longer one)–went on to productive major league careers and three of them were valuable contributors to a Rangers world series team just three years later. The Braves, you recall, did finally begin to turn it around in 2009 and were in the pennant chase for the next four years. Would have been nice to have at least some of those players who were traded to Texas.

Many of you remember the polar opposite of that deal. The epitome of successful prospect-for-star trades was the trade for McGriff in July 1993. The Braves in 1993 had the best starting pitching in a generation, but in July they were still nine games behind the Giants because the offense was only ordinary. We’ll always love Sid Bream for the slide, but by 1993 he was not a good hitter. Everyone knew for weeks that the Braves were after the Crime Dog, who was just about the best power hitter in the game. Rumors were that the Padres were demanding Klesko or Javy Lopez or even Tony Tarrasco. Scheuerholz held firm, refusing to trade any of them. The three Braves farmhands who went to the Padres never made any significant ML contributions. Without McGriff, the Braves would not have won the greatest pennant race in Atlanta Braves history, and of course he also contributed when they won it all two years later.

Not as many of you were around for what I think was the biggest disaster of this genre. The trade in late 1983 for Len Barker was an unmitigated disaster. At the time, it did make some sense. The Braves were in the thick of a pennant race, trying to repeat the success of the year before, and this time hopefully going further into October. The Braves did need another good starting pitcher, and Barker had been good (hell, for one game he was perfect!) but he was experiencing elbow soreness in 1983. The two position players traded for Barker were a center fielder and a third baseman; the two best Braves (Murph and Horner) played those positions, so they were deemed expendable.

Barker actually pitched OK for the Braves down the stretch in ‘83, but the team fell short. Barker was signed to an expensive extension that offseason, and he was pretty much terrible for the rest of his career. The Braves dipped below .500 in 1984, and from 1985-1990 they were the worst team in the league. Believe me, that five year stretch was a lot worse than 2015-2017. Murphy and Horner, as good as they were, both were done as excellent players much earlier than could have been expected. Meanwhile, Brett Butler and Brook Jacoby went on to have very good to excellent careers. Jacoby played a decade as a third baseman and made a couple of all star teams. Butler was the third best leadoff man of his generation, which is damn good considering his contemporaries Henderson and Raines may be the two best leadoff men of all time.

Now for a midseason trade that virtually none of you remember. The Braves’ best season before 1991 was 1969. Hall of Famers Henry Aaron and Phil Niekro led the team in bWAR, with 8.1 and 6.3, respectively. The team also included: Rico Carty, one of the great hitters of his generation, who had an OPS of .951 that year; former MVP and future HOFer first baseman Orland Cepeda; Felipe Alou, who had been the Braves second best player after Aaron in the first three years in Atlanta; all star starter and gold glove second baseman Felix Millan; 18 game winner Ron Reed; side wheeling closer Cecil Upshaw, who was second in the league in saves; Clete Boyer, who is one of the top 3 or 4 defensive third basemen of all time; Milt Pappas, who although he really wasn’t very good for Atlanta does have the distinction of having been traded for all time great Frank Robinson, and who is one of the few pitchers in history who won 100 games in each league (109 in the NL, and 100 in the AL).

So out of all these luminaries, who was third on the team in bWAR? None of the above. Do you remember outfielder Tony Gonzalez? I do, but only because I was 14 that season and was a fanatic Braves fan. On June 2, centerfielder Felipe Alou was hit by a pitch and broke a finger. Eleven days later, the Braves acquired Gonzalez from the Padres. Tony had had several good seasons for the Phillies in the previous decade, but was left unprotected and taken by San Diego in the first expansion draft. The Braves gave up three prospects, none of whom ever did much in the big leagues. At the time, I hated giving up one of them, a guy named Finlay who had been a first round pick a couple of years before; that guy never made it to the big leagues. Shows what I know. Another guy traded was Walt Hriniak, who couldn’t hit but later became a highly regarded hitting coach. How does that work? Anyway, Gonzalez played most of the games in center or in left the rest of the season, and he accumulated 3.5 WAR in just 89 games. He was a big reason the Braves took the pennant.

Over the years, other late season deals have been crucial to winning the pennant. Forty-eight year old HOF reliever Hoyt Wilhelm had an ERA under 1.00 for the Braves in 1969; likewise Alejandro Pena was phenomenal down the stretch in 1991 (he was acquired after Senor Smoke, closer Juan Berenguer, was out for the season.)

Don’t believe the talk that the Braves plan to stand pat between now and the trade deadline. I fully expect Thoppy to acquire some veterans, even if not Manny Machado. I’m just glad it’s him and not me making the call.

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

158 thoughts on “Off Day Open Thread–Mid-Season Trades”

  1. Great post indeed, I always enjoy the ones that have some braves history.

    JD Drew for Wainwright was an OK trade, but is also a clear example on the danger in trading prospects.

  2. tfloyd
    overjoyed
    by what you have written
    several others seem similarly smitten.

    saw Jason H go 4 for 5 tonight, making good contact, no pop ups. Hitting second he seems to be fitting in, finally. Reds won comfortably with a mid-game slam, none of the vaunted Chicago hitters could homer. They did not look good.

  3. Awesome post, thank you, tfloyd.

    I loved the still-a-douche-trade at the time.
    And he played well for us.

    Remember the Tex song:

  4. Great post, a trip down memory lane for sure. Even as a 14 year old wannabe GM in 1983 I knew the Len Barker trade was awful. It seemed like a punch in the gut to “Braves Country” to see Brett Butler go. He was a real fan favorite, and Barker’s overall performance did nothing to remove the sour taste left by that trade.

  5. If I remember correctly, Butler was the PTBNL who would go to the Indians at the end of the season, and then Butler’s name leaked out shortly after the trade took place. It was a weird situation.

  6. One mid-season trade I find noteworthy. To shore up the pen, they traded for Kyle Farnsworth in 2010. He pitched 20 IP, getting 25 K’s, and giving up 15 hits and 7 K’s. But even with a 1.10 WHIP, he gave up 12 runs, so his FIP was 2.93 but his ERA was 5.40. I suppose you would say the trade was a loss, but he was uniquely unlucky.

  7. quasi modern memory…

    At the ballpark last night an ex Brave was called upon to pinch hit for the Cubs and I stood and applauded as he came to the plate. He grounded out. (ha!)

    Why? Because, as a Cub, he once did something, said something, won something that to my limited experience was unique to the modern game and made a few of us proud. So who? And what was it he did?

    Clue…George Orwell would have been proud.

  8. @1

    Meyer, Thomas, and Cruz for Hudson will continue to be the trade that I will compare any future trade to. Meyer was a top prospect, Cruz was 25 and really good in relief for one season for the Braves, and Thomas was ultimately a flash-in-the-pan that had 267 slightly above average PAs and pretty much never played again.

    I’m not finding contract info for Huddy at the time, but he didn’t seem to sign another extension until 2010, so I don’t know how things went from 2004, when he was traded for. The extension in 2010 was a good deal, even at the time: 3 YRs, $9M per, $9M club option for the 4th year. Atlanta exercised it.

    That worked out well.

  9. Hudson wasn’t exactly an “anchor” of the rotation — he made 30 starts only 4 of the 9 seasons with the Braves — but he still put up a 2.8 WAR average across those 9 seasons, so overall, that’s a long time to be that consistently good. And more importantly, the Braves were able to anchor the rotation with some really good starters during that time — Smoltz for 3 seasons, Javy Vazquez had a career year, Jair Jurrjens had his run, etc. — so he was neither paid to or truly expected to be a year-in, year-out 200 IP+ pitcher.

  10. A non-Braves trade that would certainly fall into the ‘Yeah, but Flags Fly Forever.’ category.

    2015 – Cubs send Gleybar Torres to Yankees for Aroldis Chapman.

  11. Hudson had one year left on his deal when the Braves got him in December 2004. They re-upped him for three years “worth more than $11 million annually” in 2005. That was one year before Barry Zito got $126 million for seven years. So it’s very possible, and IIRC was widely assumed at the time, that Hudson gave the Braves a serious hometown discount.

    http://www.espn.com/mlb/news/story?id=1947892
    http://www.espn.com/espn/wire?section=mlb&id=2001911

  12. And they rode Chapman haaaard. 26 IP in August and September. 3 out of 4 games in the NLDS. 4 out of 6 games in the NLCS. 5 out of 7 games in the WS. He batted in game 5 of the WS so he could throw the final 2 2/3 IP. He threw a total of 7.2 IP in a 7-game series.

    Let’s say you deal for Brad Hand and Zach Britton. And you have to give up a lot. But you get to throw this in a 5-game series (numbers note the day # in the series):

    1-Newk, Britton, Hand, Vizzy, Wink
    2-Folty, Carle, Minter, Hand, Vizzy

    4-Soroka, Britton, Carle, Vizzy, Wink
    5-Gohara, Britton, Minter, Hand, Vizzy

    7-Newk, Britton, Carle, Vizzy, Wink

    Or whatever combination of all of them. And you could throw JT or whomever you have at the time if it’s a blowout, and you save those guys. But you could run the opposing team through a buzzsaw.

  13. What gets exciting with the collection of arms that we have is that if you get to August or September and you pretty much know you’re going to be a Wild Card card team or better, you could get creative with the prospects. While they may want to keep Touki or Gohara or Fried or whomever at this juncture developing as starters, those guys will have a shot at getting a ring and pitching in the postseason. Those guys might come to the team and say they’ll work on their game and bring the nastiest gas out of the pen that we’re going to think they ate Mexican food.

  14. @12

    He also saved our lone playoff win that year in extra innings after Billy Wagner popped his hamstring. I was never more sure in my life that something which turned out OK was going to go wrong than over the course of those three outs.

    @15

    Let’s put it this way: He’s currently in the Braves Hall of Fame. He was certainly good enough.

  15. If Mike Foltynewicz's bullpen session goes well, then he's in line to come off the DL and start on Sunday for Atlanta. If not, Brandon McCarthy would likely go in that spot.— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) June 22, 2018

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    This tells me that McCarthy is on the outside looking in if Folty is healthy. We’re almost at the end of June, and Anibal Sanchez is in the rotation and Brandon McCarthy is not.

    This season has been very predictable.

  16. @19 And THAT is one of the reasons Frank Wren is not a GM anymore. While not nearly the a-hole that his successor is/was/is, Wren sometimes made communication blunders with personnel (ie. players) that burned bridges. I seem to recall prior incidents with players like Cal Ripken Jr., Kenshin Kawakami, John Smoltz (I believe), and I know there were more…

  17. @blazon, I always liked that La Stella told the Cubs to piss off when they tried to send him to AAA-Iowa a couple years ago. He got his job back on the major league squad something like a month later, and went with them to the World Series.

  18. @16

    Looking back, the Cubs would easily make that trade again.

    I think the trades which would compare to what we need to do are in 1995 when we sent
    Troy Hughes for Luis Polonia and Andre King for Mike Devereaux.

    Also, don’t forget the other 1995 deal that sent Roberto Kelly, Tony Tarasco and Esteban Yan to the Expos for Marquis Grissom.

  19. Interesting point in my perusal of FG stats….. Braves are ranked 29th in pitcher hitting. Maybe we need to get us some better hitting pitchers….. That means the rest of our offense has to do that much more to be playoff caliber. I knew many rallies were dying in the ninth slot but I didn’t know it was that bad.

  20. Draught.

    Occasionally in these pages discussions ensue on drink, your favorite, baseball related or no.

    Last night turned out to be the best of both worlds. 12 paces across a narrow side street from the Park was the classic Irish bar doing a raucous, roaring trade, to be visited immediately before and after the game,

    On each occasion a pint of DRAUGHT Guinness. 7 bucks. Dear God.

  21. There are parts of this country where the Celtic Tiger prices for a pint of the black stuff will set you back eight sawbucks or even more. Unconscionable, but the restaurateurs who scruple to charge that haven’t got much for conscience in the first place.

  22. @30 PNC is near the top of my list of parks/stadiums that I would like to visit, along with Fenway and Coors Field.

  23. @ 29

    Alex..I’m afraid my reference to the Almighty touched not on its price but its taste after a hot, dusty day. Also its scarcity within this region of the country.

  24. Soroka to DL for right shoulder inflammation again. Yikes. His velo dropped in the 5th inning against Toronto.

  25. Our starting pitching depth seemed to last about 12 seconds. Though we could always pluck Allard, Fried, Gohara, Wisler, or Sims (or Parsons; how big is their rotation now?) from AAA if we truly needed someone. This lets McCarthy work through his stuff on his regular schedule.

  26. I gotta believe that either Soroka skips one start and tries again (with McCarthy and Sanchez covering assuming Folty comes back on time) or it’s Allard time. Kolby has been pretty spectacular and consistent all year long. If Soroka misses more than one start, it might be a better idea to send him to AAA to pitch irregularly (with extended rest) and then shut him down. They have to let him have a good long time for the inflammation to go away. He’s 20 years old and still developing.

  27. O’s announcers incredulous that our 1st pitch swinging Braves let Cobb off with a 5-pitch inning.

  28. Valencia is hitting gangbusters this year. He would be an extremely cheap 3B/pinch hit option.

  29. One has to think they will shut down Soroka for awhile this time. He says it is the same thing as last time, so he might have come back too soon.

  30. It is shocking that Newk has made it through 7 in a good way. The sign of a mature pitcher is battling through it when you don’t have your best stuff or location. Imo, this may be Newcomb’s most impressive start.

  31. Apparently, the Braves have lost the last 5 games in a row against the O’s and scored a total of 4 runs in those 5 games.

  32. This might be the worst offensive game I have seen from us this year. Not even squaring up anything

  33. Freddie is not well, period. Pallid face, looks ghostly. Maybe flu they’re keeping quiet about.

  34. In theory, any average pitcher should be able to pitch an inning without giving up 2 runs. In reality, here we are.

  35. Damn Santana. Charlie would have made that throw. Snitker just can’t seem to get these tight strategies correct.

    Worst bullpen meltdown in a month or two.

  36. Why would you double switch Santana in? It’s the 9th inning, wouldn’t be worried about the pitcher having to hit. Snitidiot.

  37. So – why did Snitker not challenge the fair/foul call on Schoop’s double down the line past Camargo? Can that call not be challenged? It sure looked foul to me.

  38. 81 — The replays that we were shown on TV were not very good. My guess is that there wasn’t a good angle available.

  39. Maybe this will be it for Freeman. He of the now 4..50 era. It seems so much worse than that though. Why take him out now and waste another arm? Let him take one for the team and ship him to Gwinette

  40. Of course we let them break the 0-100 when trailing after 8 and make Chris Davis look like a major league hitter

  41. tad, Chief, and Insect all appearing in the late innings of the same game thread is never a good sign for the home nine.

  42. I think you could reasonably believe that ball went over the corner of the bag. They could have challenged but I guess it was not worth it.

    I don’t really mind giving Winkler a chance at the closer job. We haven’t exactly been happy with Viz. But he didn’t show well at all. On the other hand, you can’t be perfect and he’s been very close to perfect this season. Freeman on the other hand…… And the double switch was just awful.

  43. Really glad I’m not able to watch this. But to be honest, I think it may help keep it in perspective.

    Winkler should be able to get 3 outs. He didn’t. Left to wonder why.

    Freeman is on his way out. Where’s Evan Phillips?

  44. I think he could have challenged that call and had nothing to lose…that, the stupid Santana double switch, no viz, using freeman, Freddie not getting the ground ball that started the inning…..

    Just a comedy of stupidity ; if it hadn’t been so terrible , maybe this rally would have a chance

  45. Vizcaino must be hurt. This is not the first time he hasn’t appeared in a game where he had plenty of rest and the situation clearly called for him.

  46. Aw, Freddie. Still love the aggressive style and Nick went to 3B on all the excitement. Great play by Nick!!! Getting to 3B with one out makes getting the out at home way less painful.

  47. How do u do all that to tie and have a chance at 2nd and 3rd no out .. with winner at 3rd and you don’t score and loose in extra innings .. disappointing

  48. OK, if Freddie had stayed at 3B, would Dansby’s fly to RF been deep enough to score him? With Jace’s arm, it might have been good enough.

    Neither of these teams are any good in extras. This could go on a while.

    Why did he take Jackson out after only 5 pitches?

  49. Agree with Roger. These uniforms bring back a lot of nostalgia. None of it good.

    Just got in and looks like I’ve missed a wild one. Is Snitker playing with a full deck? Hard to imagine that we have guys on the roster that can’t play, given all the AAA shuttle shenanigans.

  50. @108 Flowers has been awfully good recently. And he just saved a run on one of Carle’s wild pitches.

  51. O Danny Boy
    the gripes, the gripes are calling
    that throw from left could not o’ercome the slide
    those extra steps had many of us bawling
    as did the throw so very, very wide

    But come ye back, a double plunges off the wall
    and here you are, Gwinnett so far away
    per diem’s up, you found it covered all
    Now 2 for 2, O Danny Boy you’re here to stay.

  52. LOL, Jim Palmer just questioned the double switch with Santana on the O’s broadcast. Says Culberson would have made that throw……

  53. @114

    Flowers’ slash line this month is .235/.297/.353, so I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there.

  54. We might have set a record with the number of times we failed with runner at third and less than 2 out. Maddening.

  55. We’re not gonna lose this game to the Orioles after coming back for 4 runs in the 9th. No way.
    Go Braves!

  56. Well Santana has done enough to redeem himself after that terrible throw to the plate. So friggin close to a HR in the 12th.

  57. Went to Wichita to have dinner with my son and his wife. Checked the score when I got home and the Orioles had just scored 6 in the top of the ninth. Watched a movie with my wife and then went to set the alarm on my phone and just happened to see the Braves score. WTF! This game is still going on???

  58. “Oooh, now we’re into the dregs.”

    — Seymour Skinner, upon getting to Ralph Wiggum at “Diorama-Rama”

    — Many a Braves fan, upon seeing Peter Moylan enter

  59. I’ve seen enough of Moylan. If he can’t keep the ball in the park, he has nothing to add.

  60. Just when you think the bullpen can’t sink lower than it was in the ninth, Moylan says hold my beer

  61. I like how the braves didn’t challenge the obvious foul bunt off his leg, cause it was a better outcome than letting moylan pitch. Once again , braves hibernation in extras.

  62. Maybe I should go to bed now and see if I can make the Braves bats come alive like I did in the bottom of the 9th!

  63. A fun team with a bad bullpen. This sounds like the early 90s. So when will the Penas and Reardons arrive so they can lose games in the World Series?

  64. A few articles lately on TC talking about how we basically can’t take on any more salary this season (which is hard to accept honestly). I guess the help has to come from within. It’s there if we want to use it.

  65. SATURDAY AFTERNOON RECAP

    It was a year ago this weekend I debuted Wagon Wheel on these pages. First time I’d ever heard it. Smitty posted he liked it the first time, not the 200th.

    The local occasion is the same – annual Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society which theoretically goes on to midnight. Have set the record button but recap will be very late.

    So don’t wait for me, have at it in real time and i’ll join in later. Cheers.

  66. @117…Danny Boy

    Pretty amazing that after i wrote that, ending with his 2 for 2, within the next hour he had hit two more high off the wall, the second of which was up at yellow band country and would have won the game.

    So what are the haters going to say? Me, Tucker down. Sadly, Moylan must go. In memoriam i will remember his recent strike out of Matt Kemp, 3 perfect sliders, 1/2/3.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *