OK, so I've have been completely blown away about this dump Martin Prado talk. At this time last year, Martin Prado was viewed as one of our best players and most valuable assets. Other than some of your opinions, nothing has changed. So let's take a look back at how some of this all came about.
After 2 cups of coffee with the ML team, Prado played in 78 games in 2008 as our super utility man. He posted a .320 BA while appearing mainly at 1B, 2B and 3B and a few at SS and LF. His versatility was proven and in 2009, he replaced Kelly Johnson as our everyday 2B, finishing with a .307/.358/.464 line while slotted mainly in the 2 hole.
All was the same to begin 2010, starting 2B batting 2nd. But a ways through the 2010 season, Bobby moved Prado to the lead off position in favor of the struggling Nate McLouth. He took to it very quickly and improved on his already successful season. In 66 games batting lead off, Marteeen posted a .322/.362/.521 line. He was arguably our best player that season and was beloved by TC members and Braves fans all over.A healthy Prado in the playoffs and a pinch hitter Brooks Conrad on the bench could have led to a different outcome. (Not a knock on Brooks, he's a bat and was forced into a role that just isn't a good fit for what he brings to the team)
Once Dan Uggla was acquired, the questions began, would Prado or Uggla make the move from 2B to LF. Freddi and Co. decided it would be Prado to be shifted, and while it wasn't ideal for him, he easily accepted. (don't think the LF time in winter ball played into it much, nor can it be counted on as "experience") Next came the waterfall of admiration from players, coaches, management and fans. Everyone was raving about his team first mentality, players kept mentioning how great of shape he showed up in, DOB constantly had pics and tweets of how he was first guy in and last guy out during the spring.
So the 2011 season comes around and Prado is still batting 1st, but already adapting to a change to LF. 50 games in, Prado's numbers dipped a bit from 2010 but he was still batting.286/.326/.432 and was easily our best lead off option. Again, because of issues with McCouth, Schafer was called up and immediately entrenched in the lead off spot. With Heyward's struggling, Prado was the best fit for batting 2nd, a place he had been very familiar with in recent years. An injury then help Prado out for most of June and half of July. He returned to the 2 hole and it stayed the same after we traded for Bourn. So after he had gotten accustomed to batting lead off, he was put back to 2nd for most of 2011. But this wasn't the same 2 hole he had in 2009 and early 2010. This time he had speed in front of him. So, not only was he was asked to revert back to the approach of a #2 hitter after succeeding at lead off, but altering that approach as well to allow Schafer and Bourn to do their thing on the base paths. Prado finished the year with a .260/.302/.385 mark.
So in 2010 Prado was asked to add to his success as a lead off hitter but this time as a LF. But don't forget, you're Chipper's replacement at 3B, where he logged 38 games. Then asked to switch his plate approach to a 2 hitter with speed on in front. He was also dealing with an injury. Oh, and one more thing, he had the lowest BABIP of his career, by far.
2008 - .357 2009 - .331 2010 - .335 2011 - .266
To me, Prado's career has been defined by 2 things that go hand in hand, one positive and one negative. Versatility and change. The bright side, we are in position to fully utilize the positive and completely cancel the negative.
Prado has 2 arbs years left and should see a raise to around 5-6 mil next season. FW can handle it any way he wants, but at some point, Prado should be extended. And anyone reading this that doesn't think Prado will sign for multiple years at an affordable, team friendly salary, you're crazy. 4-5 years for 5-6 per seems like a deal VERY likely agreed upon by both sides to me.
Chipper will be back next year after turning 40 in April. In my rosterbation world, a pitcher should be moved for a corner OF. This would leave Prado as our super utility man. But more super than that. Chipper is going to need a day or two off a week, plus is monthly series off and most likely an injury or two. Prado can get a day in each week at LF, giving (Swisher) a rest or moving (Swisher) to RF giving JHey a day. It also couldn't hurt to give Uggs and FF a day once an a while. And we know the injury bug will show up somewhere and before you know it Prado has 100-115 games in 2012 and the team as a whole is much more rested down the stretch.
2012 will be Chipper's final season and Prado is waiting. He is the best and most reliable option to replace Chip. He will successfully hold the hot corner down for many years and, as I said, for a reasonable cost. Theres already talk about Joey T being shifted to the OF. Everyone has something good to say about Salcedo but they also say the same word, raw. It doesn't matter what improvements he makes, he isn't going to be ready until atleast 2014. Drury still has alot of question marks and who's left, Leonard? And these are all prospects, nothing is guaranteed. Prado is proven. He may not compete for the batting title every year like he did in 2010, but he has Placido Polanco written all over him. And while his power may not be ideal for 3B, he's not too far off. Plus we'll have plenty of pop in the line up for years to come. He isn't the greatest fielder but far from a weak spot. He's an above average player where ever we stick him and his very respected in this clubhouse. He never lacks in hustle and hard work and has proven he is a "team" guy. His value to this team is worth much more than anything he would be signed for through arb or extension. AND this is probably the lowest return he'd bring in the trade market in the last three seasons. So we trade him?
None of us know if FW and Co. have even thought about trading Prado. But it's been a hot topic here. So, please, those of you TC'ers that think Martin Prado SHOULD NOT BE TRADED, sign here x.................................