Frank Wren had what is with hindsight a very simple decision to make last week. Clearly a position player needed to be sent down so as to make room for a seventh reliever. The candidates were (in order of most-likely to least-likely):
1) Juan Franciso – Really all that he had proved he could do is hit with power against right-handers. His game lacks nuance, and his defense was shaky too. And who would have thought that Chris Johnson
could be hitting .343 in June?
2) Reed Johnson
– Proven pinch-hitter, and he can hit lefties
3) Gerald Laird
– If you send him down it would mean that Gattis would be the backup. And by definition the backup gets very few ABs. But Gattis has been the Braves
best hitter, so this just would not have worked
4) Evan Gattis
– Braves could not sit this bat as the backup catcher
5) BJ Upton – That big contract pretty much prevented BJ from being a legitimate candidate for being sent down
6) Ramiro Pena
– No way, the man backs up three infield positions with solid defense. And his hitting has been a huge surprise on the upside
Here is what I think is really going on in Frank Wren’s mind: the injuries to Venters and O’Flaherty really forced the Braves to think carefully about the future of Brian McCann
. Two months in, the dramatic success of Evan Gattis cannot be considered a fluke. The Braves have to at least strongly consider that Gattis will be the 2014 starting catcher.
If McCann is not going to be back in 2014, then the next logical question is "what might the Braves be able to get for him by July 31st?" An established reliever or two plus prospects really would have to make Frank Wren think about a reverse-Texeira style trade! Stated differently, Frank Wren needs the option of being able to make such a trade – most especially in the event of another key injury this summer.
Thus, Juan Francisco
was the obvious candidate to be sent down. Conversely, Gerald Laird was not even in the conversation.
This FanPost does not express the views or opinions of Talking Chop.