Braves Mailbag: Should Frank Wren Be Looking For An Ace?

Scott Cunningham

Things in Braves Country are starting to heat up a bit with the trade deadline looming.

Here is the latest Talking Chop Braves Mailbag. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions on Twitter.

@Chrisbam1: Is it ridiculous to think we need to trade for a star pitcher when we already have a pitching surplus? May need in October

Adding a front-line starter to the rotation would be nice, but it's tough to see it happening.

The Braves don't really have the prospects to land a guy like David Price. They don't have the money to get Cliff Lee. Someone like Matt Garza, Yovani Gallardo or Bud Norris would be nice, but all of those guys are 1) going to cost a lot in prospects and 2) not going to make a huge difference on a team that's already pretty darn good. Unless there's just a can't-miss deal that falls into Frank Wren's lap, I expect he'll focus solely on the bullpen the next three weeks.

@JDunnah: How important is a good leadoff hitter, really? Reds won 97 games without one.

I think one thing is pretty clear when it comes to lineup construction: if a team has good hitters, they're going to score runs. That was the case for the Reds last season and it's the same way for the Braves in 2013.

A leadoff hitter who gets on base, steals bases and scores runs is a beautiful thing. Would the Braves rather Andrelton Simmons have a higher OBP? Absolutely. And it sure would be nice to do more of what the 2012 team seemed to do, which was manufacture an early run to put the pressure on the opposition.

At the end of the day, though, as long as the bats in the middle of the order continue to produce, the lineup will be fine.

@BravesEdits: Do you think Huddy re-signs? I see him retiring.

My initial reaction to this was a pretty quick 'no', but I think it's probably 50/50 at this point. As is usually the case with the Braves, it's going to come down to his contract demands.

If Hudson is willing to take a one-year deal worth $5-6 million and some incentives, I think the club would take him back. Maybe even add in a mutual option for the second year. If he wants much more than this, I think he'll retire or play his final season or two elsewhere.

Mike Minor, Kris Medlen and Julio Teheran aren't going anywhere. Assuming he's healthy -- and he should be after being 20 months removed from Tommy John Surgery -- Brandon Beachy is going to start.

That leaves one open spot. Paul Maholm probably isn't returning. It's unclear if the team feels prospects Alex Wood, J.R. Graham and Cody Martin are ready to make 25+ starts in the big leagues. There's always a chance Frank Wren could bring in a free agent or make a trade, too.

If I had to guess right now, I'd say Hudson won't be back in Atlanta next year. There are bigger fish to fry.

@Gameday_Chatter: Who's out when Beachy is ready to start?

Maholm makes the most sense. He's gone at the end of the year and has been pretty mediocre since his scoreless innings streak to begin the season.

Medlen could be an option for the bullpen, but given how good it's been lately thanks to the emergence of guys like Luis Avilan, Anthony Varvaro and David Carpenter, he will likely stay in the rotation. Hudson doesn't exactly seem like a guy who's going to pitch the 8th inning of a close game, either. Minor and Teheran obviously aren't moving.

In the end, I see either Maholm being traded to a club in contention for a B-level prospect or two, or Beachy going to the bullpen and making a spot start if the team needs him to do so.

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