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do-the-padres-and-braves-match-up-for-an-outfielder | January | 2012 Articles

Do the Padres and Braves Match Up For an Outfielder?

Written by Joe Lucia on .

After the San Diego Padres traded for Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox this past weekend, they seem to be flush with outfielders. Are the Atlanta Braves a good match for one of their several corner outfielders?

Maybe, maybe not. It's established that Cameron Maybin is going to be starting in center field for them in 2012, as he should. I think at this point in time, he's the best player on the team. That leaves the team with several possible trade candidates, including Quentin, Will Venable, Chris Denorfia, and Kyle Blanks. Let's take a look at them, one at a time.

-Carlos Quentin. Quentin will be the most expensive one of the bunch by far, but also is the most established player. He'll be making at least $5.05 million in arbitration (probably in the $6-$7 million range), which could be a little bit out of Atlanta's price range. There were rumors circulating earlier this morning that the Padres were actually looking to sign Quentin to an extension, which would make sense after acquiring him (without giving up much in return). It'll be interesting to see how Quentin fares in Petco Park after moving away from the cozy US Cellular Field, but as I noted in the above piece, his road OPS was 300 points higher away from the Cell, with an ISO nearly twice as high. I'm not saying those numbers will hold at Petco (in fact, they probably won't at all), but it's an interesting footnote.
-Chris Denorfia. Denorfia has been a guy that Braves fans have been screaming about for quite awhile, but honestly, I don't get it. The guy will be 32 midway through the 2012 campaign, is on his third organization, and has just 894 career major league plate appearances. Denorfia is an average fielder (career +4 DRS), doesn't have spectacular power (career .118 ISO), and his main selling point is that he kills left-handed pitching (career: .305/.377/.423 compared to .257/.319/.385). But do we really want another version of Matt Diaz, who by the way, is still under guaranteed contract in 2012, on the roster? Last season, Denorfia had a .328/.391/.496 line against lefties, compared to .295/.382/.381 in 2010. I don't understand why fans would want TWO lefty killing pinch hitters on the bench at the same time. Denorfia isn't a guy who can play every day, and do we really want to get into platoon hell again? I thought this team was looking for an everyday basher in left field, not another platoon player. Plus, he's only two years younger than Diaz. It's not as if he's a young kid who just hasn't gotten a fair shake. I'd pass on Denorfia.

-Kyle Blanks. Blanks had Tommy John surgery in 2010, and spent a good bit of 2011 recovering from it. He's spent parts of three seasons in the majors, and is still only at 482 career plate appearances at age 25. Blanks was a first baseman by trade who got coverted to left field with the presence of Adrian Gonzalez in San Diego, and hes turned himself into a pretty solid hand defensively, with a career +9 in left field over 663 innings. That's really damn good. Because of his injury problems over the last two years, I'm not sure how much stock we can put into his 2010 and 2011 numbers. But in 2009 during his initial audition in the majors, Blanks had a line of .250/.355/.514 in 172 plate appearances. Here's one thing that's remained consistent about his tenure in the majors, however: Blanks strikes out. A lot. He has a career 31.5% strikeout rate, and while his 10.2% walk rate is good, it's not high enough to make up for striking out in nearly a third of his at bats. The power has also remained consistent over Blanks' career, as his .205 ISO over his three seasons in the majors would have been second on the 2011 Braves, behind just Dan Uggla. Most of that ISO came from 2009, but in 2010 and 2011, his ISOs were .167 and .176, not really chopped liver.

Blanks' minor league career has also been very solid. In the minors in 2011, Blanks tore it up. Between AA San Antonio and AAA Tucson, his combined line was .312/.382/.579 over 353 plate appearances with a 25.1% strikeout rate. Not too shabby, right? Blanks is a guy that definitely needs to be playing every day, and with the Quentin acquisiton, I'm not sure if San Diego is the place for him. If he's putting up defensive numbers like that in Petco Park, imagine what he could do in a park a little smaller, like Turner Field. Hmmmmmm. But one key factor remains here: he's not too effective against lefties. His career line is .195/.299/.347. As much as I have a mancrush on him, I couldn't rationalize bringing him in, just to have him fall into a platoon role.

-Will Venable. Ah, the Braves killer. Every time the Braves play the Padres, it seems like Venable is consistently getting big hits. I'd love to acquire him just for that reason. Venable is a solid player, but like Denorfia, is a little on the older side at age 29. Last season, he had a .255/.310/.395 line in 411 plate appearances. Oddly, his home ISO was 51 points higher than on the road, and his OPSes were only 14 points apart. Venable also would need a platoon partner, with a career .212/.289/.261 line against southpaws. That would fit in well with Diaz, if only Diaz was the same hitter against lefties that he was a couple of years ago. But again, it's not worth throwing Prado to the bench for an adequate platoon relationship that might be able to be worth 1.5 fWAR on offense between the two. But like Blanks, Venable is fantastic with the glove, posting +12 DRS in 793 2/3 innings in the outfield in 2011.

Looking at the four Padres outfielders, I've come to a conclusion: they're all platoon guys. The Braves need a full-time left fielder, not someone that will just be splitting time with another outfielder. Prado might not be the ideal solution, but he doesn't fall into the trap of being completely deficient against either type of pitcher. He's got a career .774 OPS against lefties, and a .776 OPS against righties. That is *not* platoon worthy at all. If the Padres players are the best options on the market, I'd rather roll the dice and let Prado start every day as opposed to forcing him (or god forbid, Diaz) into a platoon role and wasting a valuable bench spot.
2 comments
bucknasty79
bucknasty79

This joe guy has 2 be crazy thinking he has any knowledge of the Braves... Trade for Quentin from the Pads after they had the chance 2 get him frrom Chicago or FA.. This dude is a joke

joelucia
joelucia moderator

@bucknasty79 you apparently missed the part where I said that I highly doubt the trade would happen


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