Alex, in comments, wants the Braves to make a move to add a middle-of-the-order hitter. (Among other things.) He says that they’re too cheap to do so. That’s partly right. But it’s June freaking 13th. There are only a couple of teams out of the race. The only real slugger on the market is Mike Sweeney and he is paid a ridiculous amount of money, so much that nobody but the Yankees and maybe the Red Sox or Dodgers could afford to trade for him. The teams that are out of it have very few good players available to trade, which is why they’re out of it.
What teams have no chance of a successful season? The Devil Rays, the Royals, the Reds, the Astros, the Rockies. Maybe the Giants, who are ten out, but they’re hoping Barry can save the season. There are some other teams who have slim or no chance of making the playoffs, but those teams are playing for .500 and mostly don’t have many veterans to deal either.
Alex and I talked on Saturday, and he wanted the Braves to deal for Bobby Kielty, because he wasn’t playing much for the A’s. I explained to him that the A’s aren’t going to trade a player who doesn’t make anything. I could add that the difference between Kielty and Kelly Johnson or Billy McCarthy isn’t particularly apparent. Kielty is a spare part, not a player who will help the Braves score a lot more runs. If Chipper were healthy and Furcal and Giles were hitting the way they normally do, a marginal upgrade in the corner outfield would be useful. When the only everyday player meeting expectations is Andruw (yes, it’s true; maybe Estrada if he’s back tonight) a marginal upgrade isn’t worth giving up anything more than a marginal player.
So unless you can make a deal for a bellweather player you’re better off hoping that the guys you have improve and then you deal for a spare part to fill a hole. The problem is that the teams that are out of it don’t have those hitters. Sweeney just isn’t doable and he essentially is the Royals’ only major league hitter. Aubrey Huff might be doable if the Braves could dump a contract (Kolb), but he’s a terrible defensive outfielder having a bad year. Dealing LaRoche for him and letting Huff play first for the time being might not be such a bad idea, but then you run into Chuck LaMar’s notorious overreaching in every trade.
Beyond that, who is there? The Astros aren’t going to deal Lance Berkman, even if the Braves could work out a way to pay him, and Craig Biggio is done and isn’t really an outfielder anyway. The Reds won’t trade Dunn, nor should they, Austin Kearns’ career is collapsing, and let’s not even discuss K*n Gr*ff*y; I don’t want Terrence Moore to show up here. Let’s just say that there’s no money for him and his ego wouldn’t take well to not playing center, and Andruw is twice the centerfielder he ever was. The Rockies? Preston Wilson sucks. Todd Helton is overpaid. They don’t have any other veterans to speak of.
There just isn’t anyone out there. Saying that you want to make a deal, and can make a deal, doesn’t mean that you will make a deal. Bringing in a Preston Wilson would only hurt the team in the future for no real present gain.
Now, adding a reliever, that’s another matter. I’ve reached the stage where trading a B prospect for a decent reliever seems like a pretty good idea.