The Atlanta Braves made it official today, placing shortstop Andrelton Simons on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured pinky finger on his right hand.. Andrelton's hand was placed in a cast, and will remain there for at least four weeks, at which time he will be re-evaluated to determine the next phase of treatment.
Hand injuries are tough, and can take a great deal of time to return from. A baseball player's hands are crucial to so many aspects of his game, especially for a shortstop, who is required to make many difficult and accurate throws. While the cast will be on for around a month, it could take another month to restrengthen the hand and wrist and return to full speed. That optimistic assessment would put Simmons' return date around the early to middle part of September. If there are any delays or setbacks, he could miss the rest of the season.
If the Braves could be without their shortstop for the rest of the year, what should they do?
The way I see it, there are three options. Option one would be to recall Tyler Pastornicky from Gwinnett, and slide him back into some level of starting role in Atlanta. Tyler is not knocking the cover off the ball in Gwinnett by any means, and that ignores the main reason he was demoted in favor of Simmons -- his defense. The Braves went from the worst defensive starting shortstop in Pastornicky to one of the best in Simmons, and I'd be surprised if the team was willing to return Pastornicky and his poor defense to an everyday role.
The second option would be to move backup shortstop Jack Wilson into a starting role, and call up Pastornicky or someone else from the minors as the reserve shortstop. This seems like the most likely immediate solution, and while Wilson is better than Pastornicky defensively, he would likely be a black hole in the lineup. In lieu of Pastornicky as the backup shortstop, the Braves could call up Josh Wilson from Gwinnett. That would be fun to see, simply for the utter confusion between Jack Wilson and Josh Wilson. (But not fun to see for all other reasons.)
The third option is what we talk the most about this time of the year -- a trade. The Braves likely wouldn't want to give up too much in a trade for a shortstop, who would only be a few-month rental, but the team still has a lot of young talent in their system that could intrigue other teams (more on the Braves top-25 mid-season prospects this Wednesday and Thursday).
The Braves could go after a player who is a free agent after the season, and may not have to give up much in the way of prospects. A guy like Stephen Drew could intrigue Atlanta, especially if they are willing to take on some salary. He is just off the disabled list himself, and still getting into the swing of things, but he could give the Braves a proven starter at short, and a possible option to replace Chipper Jones next year at third, if the team chose to pick up the option on his contract.
Atlanta could try to acquire a guy to team up with Jack Wilson, like Jamey Carroll of the Twins, or Brendan Ryan of the Mariners. Neither of those two players would be offensive upgrades, but they would be a veteran type player with good defense.
My guess as to what will happen is that the team will go with option two listed above, and stick with Jack Wilson, at least in the short term. Ultimately I have to think the Braves will work towards a trade of some kind, either for a guy like Drew, who would cost more, but bring more to the table, or for another veteran guy who could split time with Wilson.
However it works out, I really hope Simba can make it back this season. He was doing everything we could have ever expected out of him, and probably would have challenged for the NL Rookie of the Year had he stayed healthy.