On June 3rd the braves made a public effort to improve their team on many fronts. First, they cut ties with a true Hall of Famer despite his tireless work ethic and established relationship with the organization. Second, they called up one of the highest regarded pitching prospects in the game and moved another promising pitcher to aid the bullpen. There have been numerous opinions on the Glavine, Hanson, Medlen saga but one fact remains that the Braves made the shift to the future.
During this entire ordeal the Braves made a significant short term and long term trade for Mclouth. Short term, the braves acquire an impact bat with speed for their pedestrian outfield. They gave up valuable prospects in Morton, Gorky’s, and Locke. Though these prospects will undoubtedly contribute to future Buc teams they in most regards were blocked from the Braves MLB roster.
Long term, the braves acquired Frenchy replacement. With the braves star CF prospect Schafer back in the minors this might not be as apparent. Schafer struggled mightily at the plate but glimpses of his ability were evident from his first at bat. Mclouth is currently holding the reigns at CF but will undoubtedly give way to the superior defense of Schafer once he is called back from the minors or at the latest the beginning of the 2010 season. In addition to the new speed and pop in the outfield our Frenchy replacement is under contract until 2011 with an option for 2012.
Can Franceour turn it around this season? He might but it will only build value to his ultimate trade. If he can’t turn it around he could very well be on the road to a release. Mclouth (Frenchy Replacement) makes this possible.
With the new outfield of Schafer and Mclouth and lack of Frenchy the braves have upgraded their outfield and allowed more flexibility in acquiring a right handed power bat for 2010. With Heyward possibly breaking camp in 2010 or 2011 the braves have a future power bat in waiting. This allows the braves to go after 1 or 2 year options in LF to secure power without overpaying for Holliday or Bay. With the abundance of LH hitters in the lineup players such as Kelly Johnson become expendable. Johnson was part of many offseason rumors and will undoubtedly be trade bait this offseason and the fact remains that he was included in the Ludwick talks this past offseason. With the deep 2010 2B free agent class the braves could overlook their inability to replace Johnson internally. Johnson’s value is down now but as a streaky hitter he could build it back anyday.
Kotchman becomes a LH bat that’s expendable. He could draw many suitors being a cheap, under contract, line drive, good defender 1B. Though free agent 1B aren’t deep in 2010; Vazquez and or the extra money from Hudson could play a factor in this scenario. Jorge Cantu comes to mind as a replacement.
Can the braves deal Johnson or Kotchman this offseason? Yes and Mclouth makes this possible because the braves don’t necessarily need to acquire their power LF anymore. Would it be nice to have a power LF? Yes Does it have to be a LF now? In my opinion, NO.
The addition of Mclouth has allowed the braves to not only contend now but also the flexibility to form a very good roster in 2010. Instead of only looking for a RH outfielder they can pursue other creative options to upgrade their roster this season and beyond. The Buc’s may or may not win the deal based on statistics in a few years but it’s clear that the Braves and the McClouth trade will allow the once dominate franchise to contend in 2010 and beyond.