It seems that the discussion amongst Braves fans has become geared towards buying or selling before the looming trade deadline. This is to be expected; the Braves are "on the bubble" in terms of their chances at playing baseball in October this season.
I would like to advocate a different idea: just stay put. That is, be neither buyers nor sellers. Sure, Frank Wren can and should always keep the phone lines open, but now does not seem to be the time for big movement. The reasons are numerous, and I would like to discuss them here.
First, the market is rather bare. This season has turned into one of the more interesting seasons contention-wise in a while. There are really very few teams that can be considered completely out of contention *(listed here: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/07/playoff-odds-update.html). This has left the midseason trade market generally thin according to most analysts. It is very simply difficult to make any major trades. Therefore, while Javy Vazquez' value may be at an all time peak, getting the value the Braves would demand might be rather difficult. This is especially true when one factors in the Braves payroll restrictions where obtaining a superstar would be well out of the Braves price range unless payroll is cleared. In essence, in order to become buyers, the Braves first must be sellers. Meanwhile, many teams are not interested in opening up their farm systems to take on payroll (the same as the Braves). Thus selling for prospects is getting increasingly difficult.
Second, the Braves, as previously pointed out, are not really out of the NL East. The division is at a point of weakness, and the while the Braves have yet to put together a good streak, the pieces seem to be starting to fall into place. The All Star Break may be the perfect time to get the team rested and healthy for a 2nd half run. Now, that could all change tomorrow if the Phillies decide to pony up the goods to get Doc Halladay, but I digress...
Finally, whether or not the Braves make that second half run, there is always the 2010 offseason. The advantage there is that many more teams will be looking to make deals. Trading guys like Vazquez for equal value may be easier, and replacing Vazquez will be easier as well. Free agents will be there to fill in gaps. For a 2010 free agent list, look here: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/12/2010-mlb-free-a.html. Many will point to guys like Soriano and Gonzalez and think that the Braves have to sell now. However, letting them finish their time in Atlanta and letting them go to free agency isn't so bad. It would leave the Braves in position to get some really good draft picks. For a preview of the 2010 MLB Draft, check out Keith Law's analysis here: http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/draft2009/insider/news/story?id=4253106. You may note that almost in most aspects, the draft class is better than 2009. It may be a really good draft for the Braves to get some higher draft picks from.
All in all, unless a really good deal comes along, Frank Wren has put a decent team together. Meanwhile the entire NL East, usually one of baseball's stronger divisions, has floundered. It's anybody's game. The midseason trade market leaves the Braves in a position where it will difficult to get the full value from their potentially trade-able players. In order to become buyers, the Braves have to clear payroll, and many teams don't want to take on payroll and don't want to trade their valued prospects. The offseason holds more hope for the Braves when more teams will be willing to make moves, and thus the Braves may be able to get more value for their surplusses. It also opens up the free-agent market where the Braves may be able to find some good deals to fill in gaps.
This FanPost does not express the views or opinions of Talking Chop.