This is partly in response to an article written by our own Scott Coleman, the article can be found here http://atlanta.sbnation.com/atlanta-braves/2011/6/19/2232463/mlb-atlanta-braves-trade-rumors-news-deadline, I do like the writing, and I understand why Braves fans might be a bit gun shy of a big trade that involves top prospects. However, I think that there is a lot to be said for acquiring a major OF bat and what it could do for our team.
First of all, lets agree that Schafer is probably not our guy for the whole season. He has shown a lot to love in his defense and base-stealing skills, but he doesn't get OB enough to fully utilize the latter skill, and if we are looking for improvement we can all agree that, aforementioned skills aside, we can improve greatly in CF.
But with the acquisition of an OF bat we also improve our bench by having Nate Mclouth as a 4th outfielder. While he might not shore up all our bench needs, he would certainly be the best 4th outfielder we can have, and it is about time we ignore the numbers on his contract and start constructing lineups that help us win. With that premise in mind, Mclouth would never be our CF if we acquired a major bat in a trade, and in fact, acquiring said bat improves our bench and our lineup.
I personally think that the best option for us is Hunter Pence. While we should consider every candidate, Hunter Pence stands out because he is on a team that is selling and because his stats look good and, though they exceed his career averages, his career averages are still very good. His 2011 slash line is .321/.361/.497 and he is on pace for a 140 OPS+ season with a wOBA of .378. While this exceeds his career average slash line of .291/.339/.483, he has been remarkably consistent over the course of his career leading to a career average OPS+ of 118. Also, the difference in splits between the 1st and 2nd half are virtually non-existent. Making him a pretty sure bet in my mind. Considering that his worst season was the sophomore slump (which many argue derives from a combination of pitchers learning about tendencies, over-confidence, and the first experience in playing a full career as a non-rookie which must have less tension and edge- which many athletes thrive on- than a rookie season) and that he has bounced back from it quite well over the last 3 years, I think we can consider him as a very consistent ball-player.
I understand that he is injured at the moment, but he has not been injury prone over the course of his career with his season low games played in his 3 full seasons being 156. I think that perhaps this could help us pry him from the Astros hands and would also give the rest of our team a couple of weeks to regain our composure. Anyway, this proposed trade is relevant anyway, regardless of timeframe, because McLouth/Schafer would be the player displaced not Prado. In this scenario Heyward can move to CF, though Pence has experience. I think Heyward is a good candidate because of his strong straightaway speed and his superior range. The areas that Heyward lacks is in his agility and acceleration, which would be helped by having more distance from the plate, thus enhancing his skill set and its application on the field.
The price would, admittedly, be high. Pence is signed through 2014 but is available for arbitration in 2012. While the arbitration will likely be high, especially considering how well he is doing this year, the type of numbers he has produced are well worth the money.
As an additional vector, consider that Heyward would likely only be playing CF for the remainder of 2011 since Chipper will likely retire after this season (I hope that he does and that the title of Braves batting coach will ease the transition for him a bit.) After that Prado plays 3rd and hopefully Schafer will become out CF.
The lineup of:
Looks pretty awesome to me. The point that I am making is not that we should get Hunter Pence, but that Hunter Pence is an exemplary candidate for the type of bat I think that we should get. And considering our ridiculous pitching depth, we could make this trade without crippling our future like the Tex trade did.
To preempt the inevitable comments that that this is rosterbation, let me say that the rosterbation threads are always trash. Just complete non-sense as a whole. So I thought that limiting the discussion by a well-outlined need would be a nice change of pace. If you disagree than use this as the new rosterbation thread.