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will-braves-bolster-pen | July | 2007 Articles

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Will Braves Bolster Pen?

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Update: Scratch Dan Wheeler from that list as the righty was just traded to the Devil Rays for Ty Wigginton. The pen was incredible in the beginning of the year, but oh how the tables have turned. With the exception of Peter Moylan and Chad Paronto, the Braves bull pen has been atrocious of late, most likely due to overuse. Unexpectedly after their performance in the beginning, John Schuerholz now has to go into the deadline looking for another arm for Bobby to be able to call on late in games. With the loss of Mike Gonzalez for the season and the trade of Macay McBride, the Braves lost their only two lefties who are capable of getting lefties out. That is something that most likely will be fixed in the coming days. There are plenty of relievers on the market so let's take a look. RHP Eric Gagne, LHP CJ Wilson, and LHP Ron Mahay- I group them together because if one of them is acquired by Atlanta, it will be part of a trade for Mark Teixeira. This is said to be the sticking point right now in the talks. Gagne had made a resurgence from his injury woes. The right-hander has not pitched a full season since 2004, but the former Dodgers closer has returned to his dominant ways with a 2.16 ERA and 16 saves so far for Texas. If he was acquired, Gagne would more than likely replace Bob Wickman as closer down the stretch. Mahay and Wilson are the more likely candidates to be traded to the Braves. Both are very similar lefties. Both have low-90's heat with some life to it, both are mediocre against right-handers, and both are dominant against lefties. Wilson is the more sought after player not only because he is better against left-handers, but because he is much younger than Mahay. LHP Damaso Marte- The Pirates' Marte is in my opinion the best reliever on the market and the best fit for the Braves. The 32-year old southpaw can get both lefties and righties out, but is especially dominant against batters hitting from the left side. So far he has an ERA of 0.00 and a BAA of .093 against left-handed batters. He is the rare southpaw that can throw his fastball in the mid-90's and is known to be on the block. Pirates GM Dave Littlefield however, is asking a young player who is major-league ready in return and presumably a hitter. It may be a lot for a reliever, but if I am Schuerholz I would offer up Martin Prado, who seems to fit the bill. This may be looked upon as a win for the Pirates, but Prado is really of little use to this team with Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar at second. RHP Octavio Dotel- Dotel is drawing a lot of interest since his resurgence as Kansas City's closer. Signing Dotel was probably former Braves assistant GM Dayton Moore's finest move so far as a Royal since he now can flip him off for a good prospect. The Braves have already been mentioned to have interest in the right-hander and with good reason. Dotel would solve the lefty problem since he handles left-handers quite easily. His electric stuff means the Braves could add another strikeout pitcher to then pen. Again though, it is a question of what the Braves would need to part with, and again, Martin Prado makes sense to me. For the Roylas if that happened, their double-play duo would already have had plenty of practice turning it together. RHP Chad Qualls and RHP Dan Wheeler- I know Brad Lidge is the best of the three Houston relievers, who were just recently rumored to be officially available. Unfortunately, Lidge's contract situation with the amount of money he'll be making through arbitration should make him off limits for Atlanta unless the payroll is raised. Wheeler isn't eligible for free agency until 2009 and Qualls until 2010 so the price on these two should be relatively high. Again, it is going to take a major league ready player to pry one away more than likely. With the announcement that Craig Biggio will retire after the season and the organization's lack of depth at the position, Martin Prado seems to again make sense to me. Wheeler is the better of the two and even though his homeruns haven't shown that, his peripherals aside from that are great. Both are effective against left-handers which makes them more likable as a target for the Braves as well.
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