Over seven weeks this summer, The Times will examine the Braves’ depth at each position from the big-league club in Atlanta through the minors.
June 17: Starting pitching A
June 24: Relief pitching A-
July 1: Catcher A
July 8: First base B+
July 15: Middle infield C+
July 22: Third base B-
Today: Outfield D+
For long stretches of 2011, the Braves have fielded an outfield in which no starter is hitting better than .230.
The numbers don't get any better upon deeper inspection. With Opening Day left fielder Martin Prado spending much of the season either on the disabled list or filling in for Chipper Jones at third base, and Jason Heyward slumping through his sophomore season, the outfield has been a blackhole when it comes to offensive production.
No wonder then thatswelling trade speculation has centered on these spots as Sunday's deadline nears.
Much of the trade talk focused on Carlos Beltran before the Giants made a deal for him on Wednesday.
Others who the Braves are reported to have pursued include the Astros' Hunter Pence, the White Sox Carlos Quentin and the Rays' B.J. Upton.
Contract terms: 1 year/$496K; arbitration eligible after 2012 season
2011 stats: .222, 11 HRs, 29 RBIs, .311 OBP
Career: .258, 29 HRs, 101 RBIs, .366 OBP
Notes: Though he’s slumping through his sophomore season, Heyward is the piece the Braves would like to build around.
Position: LF, 3B, 2B
Contract terms: 1 year/$3.1M; arbitration eligible, free agent after 2013
2011 stats: .270, 10 HRs, 37 RBIs, .314 OBP
Career: .300, 39 HRs, 196 RBIs, .348 OBP
Notes: One of the most versatile Braves, Prado may get pulled out of the outfield to take over at 3B when Chipper Jones retires.
Contract terms: 3 years/$15.75 through 2011; team option at $10.65M for 2012
2011 stats: .231, 4 HRs, 16 RBIs, .345 OBP
Career: .249, 81 HR, 270 RBIs, .338 OBP
Notes: McLouth has failed to live up to the potential he flashed in Pittsburgh and it’s unlikely the Braves will pick up his option.
Contract terms: 1 year/$419K; arbitration eligible after 2012 season
2011 stats: .240, 1 HR,7 RBIs, .307 OBP
Career: .223, 3 HRs, 15 RBIs, .310 OBP
Notes: Provides speed and a good glove, but not much else at this early stage of his Major League career.
Contract terms: 1 year/$6.9M; eligible for arbitration; free agent after 2013 season
2011 stats: .307, 11 HRs, 62 RBIs, .354 OBP
Career: .290, 103 HRs, 377 RBIs, .338 OBP
Notes: Offers a right-handed bat that can hit for power and average. Played 95 games in CF as a rookie, but has played strictly RF since.
Contract terms: 1 year/$5.05M; eligible for arbitration; eligible for free agency after 2013 season
2011 stats: .262, 20 HRs, 62 RBIs, .353 OBP
Career: .253, 117 HRs, 368 RBIs, .348 OBP
Notes: Another right-handed bat under team control through 2012, Quentin’s offensive game is more about pure power.
Minor League Options
The Braves’ farm system isn’t exactly stocked with sure-fire stars in the outfield, making the need to bolster the position via trade all the more imperative.
There are options at Gwinnett who might help in the short term, but other than Adam Milligan, few of the team’s young draft picks have produced much offense in the last two years. Milligan’s issue has been staying healthy.
Position: RF, LF
Notes: A variety of injuries have limited Milligan since the Braves drafted him in the sixth round in 2008. When healthy he’s been effective, hitting .301 with 29 home runs in 152 career minor league games. He’s hitting .291 with 12 home runs in high-A ball this year.
Organizational depth: D
This grade could get a significant bump if the Braves make a deal this weekend, but the current group has struggled mightily.