That’s a lot – MLB – Braves add bat, get Drew from Cardinals

JD Drew and Eli Marrero for Ray King, Jason Marquis… and Adam Wainwright. Well, Wainwright; the Braves would have given Marquis away at this stage, and King doesn’t have a whole ot of value either. But Wainwright… That’s a lot to give up. I thought that the Braves would get Drew (I’d become convinced over the last few days) but thought they’d be able to swing it without giving up their best pitching prospect. The Cards held out, I guess.

Drew’s had injuries throughout his career, of course. But he’s been good to excellent when he’s been able to play, and is a career .282/.377/.498 hitter. If he can stay relatively healthy, he can give them 90 percent of Sheffield with half the cost and maybe a quarter the agita.

You might be thinking of Eli Marrero as a throw-in, but he’s one of the game’s better bench players, or was in 2001-02. He too was hurt last year, and played poorly. But he can catch or play any outfield position and he has some pop. Backup catcher solved.

But Wainwright… Good lord.

46 thoughts on “That’s a lot”

  1. Well, off all the names thrown out there for the Braves’ RF, Drew is about the only one who had a chance of approaching Sheff’s production. The other guys – to the man – were making me think Ron Gant, whereas Dre at least makes me think of Dave Justice-type ability.

    I absolutely hate seeing Wainwright go. It’s not the end of the world – at least Wainwright still has a lot to prove (I’d have felt worse if his K rate had gone up, rather than down, last year). The other guys the Braves gave up don’t really excite me too much. Marquis doesn’t have much value at the moment, and it had become clear that if he ever were to become good, it would be with another team.

    I like Marrero too. If he can spot duty in the OF, he’ll be a good upgrade over Bragg (assuming that Drew, not Eli, will spot time in CF). And just about anyone would be better than Blanco at spelling time with Estrada.

    Hey, at the end of the day, I’ll be happy with this trade so long as Drew can avoid the DL. That’s a big if, I suppose.

  2. I hate to lose Wainwright, too, but you’ve got to give something to get something. And if he’s healthy, Drew is better than any free agent right fielder out there. Of course, that’s a big if…

  3. Great minds think alike I guess, Allen.

    By the way, does anyone know Drew’s contract status? I assume he’s at least arbitration eligible (he made $3.7 million last year). By my math, he’d also be in line for free agency next year.

  4. Assuming they go with a 7-man bullpen again (argh) the rest of the team’s almost set, just lacking a fifth starter and maybe a couple of bench spots.

    SS Furcal
    2B Giles
    LF Chipper
    CF Andruw
    RF Drew
    1B LaRoche
    3B DeRosa
    C Estrada

    1B Franco
    C/OF Marrero
    OF Matthews
    IF Garcia?
    OF Langerhans?

    I’m not convinced they won’t get another player, and I’d hope they’d find someone better than Jesse Garcia for utility infield. But they do have a team that could take the field now.

  5. I saw this first from Lee Sinins’ emails. The first one said “Drew for Marquis and King.” I danced a little jig. The second one said “oh yeah, and Wainwright too.” I ceased dancing.

    Hard to know how to feel about this one. Wainwright blows his arm out tomorrow, it’s a steal. If he pans out into a solid major leaguer and Drew comes down with rickets or scurvy or something (not unlikely) it’s terrible. Could bad, could be good, but either way, I give Scheurholz credit for having the stones to make this kind of trade. I mean, we’re all great at being Monday morning quarterbacks. I have no idea what I’d do if I was faced with that decision.

    No matter the case, this is better than Jacque Jones. Also, it’s possible that JS isn’t done yet. If he gets a quality starter for the five slot, Wainwright probably would have been in the minors all year.

  6. AJC says that Drew is eligible for free agency after the season. So we get to do it all again! The Braves might look to a long-term deal — “long-term” by current standards being three years, maybe. Coming off a poor year, I have Drew pencilled in for about $5 million.

    I think it was a great deal for the Cards, considering that they had to shed salary. But I’m happy with it anyway. Win-win.

  7. I think this is a great deal. High risk/high reward to be sure, but if you can grab a guy with Drew’s talent at age 28 you do it. Marrero will make a nifty bench player as well.

    Marquis should get an opportunty in St. Louis and I’ll bet he’ll do well. King will be used one batter at a time under LaRussa’s hyper-management, so I don’t think there is much value there. That leaves Wainwright. There is nothing here not to like. Fairly healthy, survived the jump to AA, good strike out rate, good control, good everything. If he stayed with the Braves he might have been great. I fear for him now as the LaRussa/Duncan combo does not have a great record in developing young pitchers by any stretch of the imagination. Matt Morris made it but only after a surgery. Aside from Morris young pitchers generally take the Alan Benes career path under LaRussa’s guidence.

    Overall it’s a risky deal for both sides. If Drew gets healthy and play like he can the Braves look great and the Cardinals look foolish. If Drew continues to hit the DL three times a year and Wainwright fulfills his potential the Cards come out smelling like roses. Personally I think Drew will benefit greatly from getting away from LaRussa’s walk-it-off approach to injuries and into to Bobby Cox’s more conservitive approach to rehab. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Drew play 145 games and put up a .290/.380/.520 line.

  8. Remember who Drew’s agent is? If we don’t sign an extension then he is a rental, and that is a lot of talent to give up for a rental. The Dodgers got Encarnacion for a PTBNL. Unless that’s Edwin Jackson, I think I like that deal better.

  9. I assuming this means we still have 20 million dollars or so to play with, what are our options now that RF is shored up? I think Millwood is a good possibility for a pitcher now with the money still left, but is there any other quality pitchers out there? And what about third? I realize scenarios have been addressed here, but now with this, its all changed.

  10. Encarnacion isn’t actually any good, though. Sub-Brian Jordan. Drew, even hurt, is better, and at his best is terrific. I hope Bobby and Jeff Porter can keep him healthy. Notice how many injuries the Cards have? Notice how relatively rarely a Braves regular misses significant time?

  11. I don’t think that Drew’s impending free agency should be a great cause of concern. In fact, I like the flexibility. If he gets injured during the season, but the Braves decide they’d still like him to stay around, they’ll have as fair a shot as anyone at retaining him for modest money. On the flipside even if he has a good year, the likelihood that a guy with his injury history landing a Boras bank-breaking deal is not high. The absolute best comparison Drew would have would be a Jeffery Hammonds/Brewers-type deal: 3 yrs, $24million. That’s not so much to give me a fear that the Braves won’t have the payroll to sign him next year, if they want to.

    And if he sucks, if he’s moody like Lofton or a clubhouse drain like Boone, he’s gone (in which case this trade compares favorably with both the Lofton and Boone deals).

    What are the numbers for Marrero? Anyone know his service time and salary?

  12. Encarnacion isn’t actually any good, though.

    Exactly. Getting Drew keeps the Braves from hauling in an out machine like Encarnacion. The fact that the Braves chose to spend the capital on a good player like Drew instead of getting a cheaper superficially good player like Encarnacion or Jacque Jones tells me that the front office to gets it.

    Encarnacion meanwhile heads to Dodger Stadium, where flyball hitters go to die.

  13. tells me that the front office to gets it.

    Sorry that should read:

    …tells me that the front office gets it.

  14. I love adding Drew and think he could flourish under Bobby Cox. For once, the Braves are buying low and getting someone on the sunny side of 30.

    I hate giving up Wainwright, and to a lesser extent Marquis. But I keep telling myself, TANSSAAPP. Risky, but worthwhile trade.

  15. One more comment… It appears that there was a bidding war for Drew between the Braves and Dodgers. I expect what happened is that the Cards asked them for Jackson and us for Wainwright, and we moved first. Then the Dodgers went to their backup plan. Since Encarnacion was going to be non-tendered, I doubt they gave up much.

  16. I like the deal for Drew, if and only if, they lock up Millwood and call it quits for the winter. They dropped 40m in payroll this year knowing that they had to get down 20m. So far, Thomson and Drew only add back about 8m giving us about 12m to work with. I figure Marrero and King/MArquis to be a salary wash. What people don’t tend to realize is that if the Braves don’t get Millwood, the Phillies will, and they already are the best team in the NL east.

  17. If you want to see this deal from (ostensibly) the Cardinals’ side, follow this ridiculously long link:


    And about the Phillies … we heard the same things about them being the best in the East last year after they got Thome and Millwood. But as long as Larry Bowa is running that team, they’ll never run away and hide.

  18. I guess I don’t have much to add that hasn’t been said yet, but I am psyched. I have admired Drew’s talent for a long time even as my Cards-loving best friend curses him. Anything could happen, and Wainwright could be great, but right now I like Drew’s chances to blossom and keep us an elite team.

  19. I agree that the Drew gamble was worth taking–because it makes other moves (i.e. Millwood)possible. Because the Braves want to win the division (and more every year, it is probably inevitable that they will surrender potentially great players for ones that are simply good–but proven–or trade for those who can only be rented. For those of us who enjoy watching the farm system this is a tough reality to accept.

    In any event, Drew may well blossom in Atlanta, but I fear that Wainwright will prove to be more like Jason Schmidt than Bruce Chen, Rob Bell or Joey Nation. Having said that, I wonder if it also means that Braves had come to regard Bubba Nelson as the better long-range prospect. In any case, with Belise and Wainwright gone, Nelson is now the future. Marquis had to go, I would not be surprised if he also develops into a pretty good pitcher. Losing King will at least furnish entertainment by making the bullpen situation even more interesting. Lets keep our fingers crossed on this one.

  20. Link shortened. Guy in STL doesn’t seem very bright, does he? Wainwright “could be” the key to the trade? If the Cards really thought that Marquis or King was the key, they’re dumber than the Devil Rays.

  21. I think this is a good trade also. Drew does have a lot of talent, let’s just hope he stays healthy enough to be productive in the #3 slot.

    It also makes you think the only other big signing or trade will be a pitcher. Let’s hope it’s Millwood, not Larry Drew.

  22. I’m having flashbacks of Jason Schmidt. Sending Wainwright away. Couldn’t they have sent Pratt, Hodges, Bong or any combination of the three. I’d rather have Wainwright than all of those guys.

    Let’s hope Cox is wise and chooses to start Marrero at catcher instead of Estrada. Marrero is a better in every aspect including hitting. Marrero had a good year in 2002 and put up better numbers than Estrada can ever hope to.

  23. Let’s take it easy on Estrada. It’s not his fault that he wasn’t worth Kevin Millwood straight up. He will do a fine job catching defensively and be a decent hitter. You shouldn’t count on too much offensive production from your catcher anyway, it is a defensive position. Besides, Marrero is much more valuable as a reserve that can play virtually anywhere and will wind up with 350 at bats anyway.

  24. It’s tough to lose Waingright, no doubt about it. But that’s the upside of having the best farmsystem in the league. Trading one quality prospects leaves you with…well, plenty of quality prospects. Overall, good move. After it was all said and done, surprisingly, King had one of the better ERA’s coming out of our bullpen last year. But he’s not all that great a setup man, no hard feelings letting him go. Marquis has lots of talent that hasn’t turned inton consistant ability yet. Maybe he’ll become a great starter one day, maybe not. Drew is excellent defensively and has the ability to put up some good numbers, he should fit in nicely. Lets hope he stays healthy.

  25. At least the Braves won’t have to trade at the deadline for a catcher to replace the inevitable flop of Estrada. Estrada is a 4A carcher. Too good for the minors, not good enough for the majors. Marrero had a good year in 2002 and now that he’s healthy and if he’s given the chance, he could put up those kind of numbers again. And by the way, the Braves seem to be the only people who think Estrada could have any success in the majors. Every article I’ve read say the same thing. At best, Estrada is a back up catcher.

  26. this about adam wainwright from jason stark:

    “Wainwright, 22, was the Braves’ most highly regarded young pitcher. But one scout said the Braves were actually getting worried because he wouldn’t stop growing. It’s believed he has grown from 6-foot-6 to close to 6-9 in the last year or so. And some scouts think his size has begun to affect his mechanics.”

  27. Flop of Estrada? Please, he will do just fine in the majors. If Estrada can’t handle the majors, what does that say about all the other catchers in AAA who weren’t all-star MVP’s. Let’s be realistic here.

  28. Grst–
    Toby Hall was an International League MVP two years ago, and I think Estrada’s performance should be pretty similar: .260/.310/.400. But, LaRoche ain’t a bad MVP candidate. This makes me really wonder what the Braves do next, whether it be trade for a 3B, sign another starter, or land the best set-up man left on the market.

  29. Johnny Estrada is 28, the prime of a ballplayer, going up against 22 year olds. Estrada has some talent but not enough to be successful at the major league level. I’m not bitter about the Millwood deal but minor league success often can’t caonvert into major league success. Estrada has too many holes in his game (ie the tendency to hit into double plays) to be a major league catcher. Estrada is not going to grow much more as a player, what he is now is what he’s going to be the rest of his carrer. The idea he can hit over .250 with more than 10 HRs is a joke. I want Estrada to succeed as much as anybody but I’ve found nothing to give me any hope he will. I’ve found no articles by any experts saying Estrada can convert minor league success into major league success. The Braves have done a great sell job but Estrada just isn’t of the caliber of a major league starter. Minor league success can’t be counted upon. Marerro gives the Braves a much needed insurance policy for Estrada.

  30. The average major league catcher couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. I mean, Brad Ausmus has a contract. Estrada will probably have a low OPS but if he can manage to draw 40 walks and hit .250 he won’t be a net benefit or detriment. I’m more worried about the fact that we are going to have well-below-average production from 1B for one more year.

  31. Don’t dismiss LaRoche as a first basemen. He’s shown some power and smooth defense. Under Pendleton and Julio Franco, LaRoche should be able to be at least an average first baseman. Remember, Fick didn’t put up great numbers last year and his glove wasn’t impressive. LaRoche should be able to put up offensive numbers equal to Fick and his defense should be supurb. LaRoche shouldn’t be a step down at first. Estrada is a big step down behind the plate. And by the way, LaRoche was ranked among the top first base prospects in baseball by the Sporting News, Estrada didn’t even make the list.

  32. Don’t dismiss LaRoche as a first basemen. He’s shown some power and smooth defense. Under Pendleton and Julio Franco, LaRoche should be able to be at least an average first baseman. Remember, Fick didn’t put up great numbers last year and his glove wasn’t impressive. LaRoche should be able to put up offensive numbers equal to Fick and his defense should be supurb. LaRoche shouldn’t be a step down at first. Estrada is a big step down behind the plate. And by the way, LaRoche was ranked among the top first base prospects in baseball by the Sporting News, Estrada didn’t even make the list.

  33. He may not have been included on said list because of his major league experience with the phillies. Either way, they have a solid catcher position, I still wish they would have signed Eddie Perez though.

  34. J. D. Drew? if if if. The big if is money! He has a big year, Braves can’t afford him. Gets hurt again, do you want him. Not one replacement of the guys that are leaving is better. Sheffield or Drew. Lopez or Estrada. Derosa or Cast. Maddax or Thomson. Fick or La Roache (maybe here). wildcard time at best.

  35. In what ways was Sheffield a problem in Atlanta? He was is LA for sure, and some of his other previous teams, but in Atlanta he didn’t do anything but hit the ball really hard. Maybe I missed something Mac. Seriously, not rhetorically, did I miss something Sheffield did in Atlanta qualifies as “agita” are you just playing to the Sheffield story line.

    I’m also not psyched at all about Drew. When the season comes around I’ll shut up and get behind him but I’d put money down that he doesn’t do 90% of Sheffield. I’m thinking more like 90% of Shane Spencer. But I hope he proves me wrong. But I haven’t got any serious alternative to propose either.

  36. Let me clear up some things, Estrada was left off the Sporting News’ top catcher prospect list which included catchers with major league service. This is because unlike the players on the list, Estrada has reached the height of his game. He’s old (for a player in the minors) and won’t grow much more as a player. Let me restate something else: Major league success is determined by a players skills not minor league numbers. To look at Estrda’s numbers in AAA last year is misleading. You must look at a breakdown of Estrada’s game-his swing, his glove, his speed, his arm, his game calling skills. Estrada will not put up good offensive numbers and I’m not going to get into his double play problem. To those who say “So what, catcher is a defensive position.” Estrada can move well behind the plate and his arm is okay, no one disputes that. His biggest limitation (apart from the goofy mask)is his game calling ability. Lopez couldn’t call a game either, but at least Lopez had a lot of major league experience, Estrada doesn’t. Compounded with his lack of offense, Estrada is a disaster waiting to happen. Thank God we have Marrero to back him up and step in when Estrada is benched.

  37. Just a thought, but do you think the Cardinals would have taken someone else besides Ray King? I think we could have found a prospect they might like. If they would then we could convince the Brewers to take King back for Wes Helms. HAHA That would solve the 3rd base problem. That was a really bad trade for the Braves. We got a LH reliever for one year and the Brewers have a solid 3b who we never gave a chance to play regularly. That trade will haunt the Braves for years as the trade with the Cardinals might if Drew walks after this season and the pitchers pan out.

    Also, Estrada probably wasn’t on the prospect list because he isn’t a rookie anymore and not really a prospect. He’ll be 28 and has played 131 games with 387 AB’s in his MLB career. Not too impressive for a catcher who is only 5 years younger than Javy.

    Eventually, the Braves have to start holding onto some of their young players and give them a chance to play. Using some of the young players can’t be any worse than patches like Paul Byrd, Robert Fick, Vinny Castilla, and Jon Thomson.

  38. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Johnny Estrada is the next Mickey Cochrane, Johnny Bench or Josh Gibson. However, looking at his entire package, he seems to be a good bet to better Javy Lopez’s 2001-2002 seasons.

    I think it would be a mistake to completely discount his ability based on Estrada’s 2001 performance in Philly. With only 32 games of AAA experience, he was called up mid season to replace Mike Lieberthal who went down for the year. That he struggled shouldn’t be a huge surpise or a permanent black mark on his resume.

    On the other hand, I think it a mistake to read too much into his 2003 Richmond numbers. In his third season in AAA and at age 27, he should be expected to dominate.

    I just don’t believe that there are players who can perform at AAA and not perform well if given an extended opportunity at the Show. Estrada’s performance in his minor league career has been pretty consistent: .275-.295 BA with minimal walks and mid range (for a catcher) power. If he gets 400+ ABs this year, I would expect that he’ll bat .265-.285 with 10-15 homers and (unless batting 8th with the many sem-intentional ones) very few walks. In other words, a huge step down from last year’s Braves catching, but right in line with or somewhat better than what we had the prior two years.

  39. Hey guys, the following is from the “Inside Dish at The Sporting News” regarding this trade. I thought I’d share the wealth:

    Here it is:

    “Cardinals and Braves officials alike described
    6-6 RHP Adam Wainwright as Atlanta’s top pitching prospect, but the
    Braves rarely get burned when they trade young arms. Wainwright, 22,
    doesn’t throw especially hard, was erratic last season at Class AA and
    failed to make the U.S. Olympic team. One scout compares him with former
    Mariner Erik Hanson, another tall righty who had an above-average
    curveball and a good feel for pitching.

    Before acquiring OF J.D. Drew, the Braves thought they might need to
    involve a third teamperhaps the Angelsto satisfy the Cardinals’ desire
    for a proven starter. Cardinals G.M. Walt Jocketty, however, says he and
    Braves G.M. John Schuerholz “are too old to do three-way deals.”

  40. Wes Helms? Are you kidding? Helms is a below-average player of the same class as Zeile and company. Who needs him? Anyway, I’m sure that King was a player that the Cards wanted, given their manager’s proclivities, and that they needed to get a major leaguer in the trade.

    Sheffield’s history is that he always starts out well with the team and then sours on them, eventually forcing a trade. He was just beginning to sour on the Braves when the season ended. I personally don’t have a big problem with that but I think that the Braves do.

    I wonder who Terrence Moore’s boyfriend is now. Andruw?

  41. Johnny Estrada is 28, the prime of a ballplayer, going up against 22 year olds.

    I find it humorous that Sam thinks AAA is made up of 22 year olds. Might want to actually research that a little bit.

  42. Robert, when I referred to AAA being made up of 22 year olds I was exaggerating to make a point. The point is Estrada is at his prime playing against players who have still need to develop.

    By the way Mac, Wes Helms hit 23 home runs last year. While he did this in the hitters paradise of Milwaukee and only hit .261, it does show he is at least an average player. Vinny didn’t do much better. I for one think he’s more valuabe than King. He got bailed out by the Braves’ offense last year on more than one occasion. While his overall numbers wern’t bad, he doesn’t strkie fear in the heart of a hitter. But I’ll admit my opinion is biased since I’ve never really liked King. So don’t go off on me.

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