Braves may now attempt to acquire a reliever
With Kenshin Kawakami and Jesse Chavez crowding the back end of the bullpen mix and left-hander Eric O’Flaherty still trying to regain the strength he lost because of a viral infection, the Braves may attempt to acquire a reliever before Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET trade deadline.
Nate McLouth’s extended struggles have forced Braves GM Frank Wren to continue evaluating options to improve his outfield mix. Eric Hinske and Matt Diaz have shown enough recently to create the belief that they could prove productive while platooning at the left field position.
But McLouth has left the Braves with no other choice but to determine whether they should add a center fielder or simply allow Melky Cabrera and possibly Gregor Blanco to primarily fill the position for the remainder of the season.
As mentioned late last week, the Braves have minimal interest in Marlins center fielder Cody Ross, who could be deemed a non-tender candidate before having the chance to gain a salary of approximately $6 million via arbitration this winter.
If Wren opts to improve his bullpen internally, he could promote highly-regarded prospect Craig Kimbrel. But the better option might be Stephen Marek, who has combined to post a 0.60 ERA and limit opponents to a .215 batting average in 45 combined innings with Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett this year.
The Braves could also opt to promote left-hander Mike Minor to their big league rotation and give Kris Medlen a chance to return to the bullpen. Minor has gone 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA in the four starts he’s made since being promoted to Gwinnett.
- Mark Bowman