Blog Entry

Braves see opportunity in East

Posted on: June 3, 2009 7:26 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2009 9:55 pm
The Mets can't keep their players healthy. The Phillies' rotation remains shaky.

There's opportunity for the Braves in the National League East, and with three moves today they showed that they want to go for it. And on a day where they said good-bye to a future Hall of Famer and traded for an All-Star, it's the third move that could end up being the biggest.

Just a while after the Braves announced that they were releasing Tom Glavine, and just after they acquired Nate McLouth from the Pirates, the Braves said that super-prospect Tommy Hanson will make his big-league debut Saturday against the Brewers.

By releasing Glavine, the Braves showed that sentiment matters less than performance. By trading for McLouth, the Braves filled their perceived biggest need, for an outfielder who would improve their offense.

By promoting Hanson, the Braves added a guy who could be a big-time difference-maker.

In 66 1/3 Triple-A innings this year at Gwinnett, Hanson has 90 strikeouts and 17 walks. He dominated the Arizona Fall League, and impressed everyone who saw him this spring. Even then, there were those who wondered why the Braves had re-signed Glavine, rather than just start the year with Hanson.

"He could be what [Rick] Porcello has been for the Tigers," one scout said today, noting the 20-year-old Porcello's six wins.

As for McLouth, scouts are divided on whether he'll provide the boost the Braves need. At the least, he'll be an improvement over Jordan Schafer, who won the center-field job in spring training, but was sent to the minor leagues this week with a .204 batting average (and a .158 average in May).

The Braves had very little financial flexibility, but after releasing Glavine (who would have been owed a $1 million roster bonus), they can afford McLouth (who makes $2 million this year and is signed for $4.5 million and $6.5 million the next two years). The financial consideration was likely part of the Glavine decision, although the bigger reason for releasing him was that the Braves didn't feel he had enough left to succeed in the big leagues, and that they have better options.

The biggest of those options was Hanson, who takes the spot in the rotation that Glavine hoped to fill.

And even though Glavine is headed for the Hall of Fame, the arrival of Hanson could still be the biggest news of a busy Braves day.


Where do the Pirates fit in all of this? And why, for the second year in a row, are they trading "the face of the franchise"?

McLouth is just 27, and already an All-Star. But the Pirates have While McLouth is just 27, trading him fits into the Pirates' rebuilding plans. The organization is heavy on outfielders, and reports out of Pittsburgh say that top prospect Andrew McCutchen will be called up to take McLouth's place. Meanwhile, the Pirates have been trying to build pitching depth, and adding Morton (7-2, 2.51 at Triple-A Gwinnett) should help.

Still, the deal is another sign of how far the Pirates must go to become contenders again. This is the second straight year they have traded the so-called "face of the franchise," with Jason Bay going last year and McLouth this year.

Category: MLB

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