Asking why the Braves don’t trade for Shannon Stewart isn’t helping. They don’t need Shannon Stewart. He’s a good player, but he’s not any better than Ryan Langerhans. He’s just more expensive. To get a player who is much better than Langerhans, you’d have to pay not only a lot in talent but a lot in money, and that just isn’t going to happen. Most of the other names I’ve seen aren’t even as good as Langerhans has been since he finally got a chance to play semi-regularly.
The general problem is this. The Braves can’t make a deal to add more than a fairly marginal salary unless someone else takes a salary in return. That means Furcal or Kolb, because nobody will take Hampton and everyone else either makes nothing or is too important to the team.
Now, Furcal is a free agent after the season, and Kolb can be non-tendered after the season, so the only way that a deal would work would be to pick up someone whose contract doesn’t end after this season. But that would probably mean that the Braves would have to shed someone else’s contract after the season, someone they can’t easily replace like Andruw or Marcus. Schuerholz, rightly, isn’t going to do that for a player who isn’t a clear upgrade. And none of these outfielders is a clear upgrade on Langerhans.
So, if the Braves are going to make a move, it will be for a reliever, probably someone cheap. The only way they could pick up someone who makes real money would be if the other team took Kolb off our hands, meaning that the Braves would have to throw something else in to make up for it. So we’d be in a situation where we’d give up maybe three prospects to get one pitcher.
Furthermore, the Braves don’t actually have many prospects to trade right now. Everyone’s in the big leagues! The only top prospects left are Marte and Francoeur, who are probably untouchable, certainly to only get a reliever. Everyone else is either a marginal talent or down in A-Ball, and few teams are going to want to trade Major League talent for someone who is that far away from contributing.
That leaves Furcal. Now, I want him traded — look at the front page! — but that creates another problem. Furcal would only be attractive to a team that is in the race, and those teams aren’t likely to give up established pitchers. There aren’t enough of those to go around. So that means that the Braves would have to figure out a three-way deal — Furcal to a team with a good farm system, who would ship prospects to someone like the Pirates, who would ship a reliever to Atlanta.
The only other option I see is a problem-for-problem deal where the Braves pick up someone who is stinking up the joint, like Ted Lilly, for one of our guys who is stinking up the joint, like Kolb. I don’t see how that helps.