Monday, July 8, 2013

Walk-Off Walk's Top Ten July Trades: Part 1 of 2

The Braves seem unlikely to make a big trade before the end of July, but chances are very good that they at least make one trade before the calanders switch to August.  Bullpen help has often been rumored and someone to replace Ramiro Pena's bat & glove on the bench could be quite useful.

With that in mind, let's take a look back at the top ten trades by the Braves during the month of July.  Much like my Favorite Braves List, this list will start with 1991, or the time when I began to follow the Braves.  You can call me a bandwagoner if you want, but I was 9 by the time the 1991 NLCS came around and lived in central Virginia.

10. July 30, 1998 - Braves trade David Cortes and Mike Porzio to the Colorado Rockies for Greg Colbrunn

I promise that starting this list with a trade for bench help doesn't mean this list will be full of LOOGY's and third catchers.  Colbrunn had been picked up the previous August from the Twins and been helpful so you can't blame John Schuerholtz for going back to the well.  Colbrunn slashed his way to a .295/.367/.432 run in 49 PA with two hits in the NLCS against the Padres.  Porzio appeared in 16 forgetful games for the Rockies in 1999 and the southpaw appeared in 32 games with the White Sox in 2002.  He was out of the bigs by 2003 and even appeared in a few games in the Braves organization in 2005 before finally retiring for good in 2010.  Cortes was oddly traded back to the Braves three weeks later and yet, still appeared in most of his major league games with the Rockies when he got into 80 games in 2005-06.  He finished up his career with four years in the Mexican League with 2010 also his last year.

9. July 31, 2005 - Braves trade Roman Colon and Zach Miner to the Detroit Tigers for Kyle Farnsworth

Before 2005, the Tigers had acquired Farnsworth for a trio of nondescript players as the Cubs were looking for some value before they let him go in his last year of arbitration.  He already had a career-high six saves before the trade and notched 10 more after the trade.  Oddly, for such a regarded arm, Farnsworth's 16 saves in 2005 remains the second most of his career.  However, Farnsworth's season took a bad turn in the NLDS against the Astros.  Up 6-1 with nobody out in the 8th inning and two runners on, Farnsworth got the call for a six-out save.  Instead, he gave up a Grand Slam to Lance Berkman.  With two outs in the ninth, Brad Ausmus (of all people) homered to tie it at 6-6.  Screw you, Chris Burke.  Colon never worked out well with the Tigers, nor the Royals, and has played in three different organizations this year, including the Braves.  Miner had a 4.24 ERA in 357 innings over four years with the Tigers.  He's currently in the Phillies organization, pitching for Lehigh Valley in the International League.

8. July 31, 2009 - Braves trade Casey Kotchman to the Boston Red Sox for Adam LaRoche

The Braves were hopeful to make a run in 2009 despite being an awfully flawed team.  Nevertheless, improving first base where Kotchman had been a collassal disappointment seemed like an easy fix.  Atlanta, who was a game over .500 at the time of the trade, finished with the third best record over the final two months of the season.  However, a six-game losing streak to finish the season did them no favors as they finished six games out of the Wild Card spot.  LaRoche, however, was superb, hitting a delirious .325/.401/.557 in his final 242 PA.  Meanwhile, Kotchman's only place in Braves lore is that he was all the Braves really got for the loot they gave the Rangers for Mark Teixeira.

7. July 20, 2006 - Braves trade Max Ramirez to the Cleveland Indians for Bob Wickman

This should explain how bad things were at the end of games for the Braves in 2006.  Chris Reitsma was the closer when the season began.  Reitsma and his eight saves finished second on the team to Wickman.  Ken Ray (who?) was third with five saves.  Jorge Sosa had three.  The Braves have a proverbial mix of bad options at the end of games, which was problematic since they had so many bad options at the beginning of games, too.  Atlanta was six games under .500 when the trade was made and was marginally better after the July 20th, going 32-30 down the stretch.  Not that it was Wickman's fault.  In addition to his 18 saves down the stretch, he posted an unsustainable (for him) 1.00 WHIP.  The Braves brought him back in 2007, but the results were not nearly as strong and he was released in September.  Ramirez was a strong hitting prospect from behind the plate, though he never was able to stay in the bigs, logging 140 PA with the Rangers in 2008 and 2010. 

6. July 31, 1999 - Braves trade Micah Bowie, Ruben Quevedo, and a player to be named later to the Chicago Cubs for Jose Hernandez and Terry Mulholland. Joey Nation traded to Cubs to complete the trade.

Options were abysmal at shortstop for the Braves in 1999.  Walt Weiss hit .226, a far cry from his All-Star quality 1998.  Ozzie Guillen OPS'd .607.  They needed an injection of offense and tried to get that from Hernandez, who had an .807 OPS at the time of the deal.  He struggled with the Braves, though, hitting just .253 with little power.  Weiss was often employed as a defensive replacement and made a memorable play in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Astros.  In a tie game with one out and the bases loaded, Tony Eusebio rocketed one toward short that Weiss was the only player on the team capable of stopping.  He did and threw home to get the second out and the Braves would win in 12.  Mulholland was utilized as both a reliever and starter for the Braves, giving them a sturdy left-hand arm out of the pen in the playoffs with that amazing pickoff move.  He spent 2000 with the Braves, but struggled.  Of the players the Braves gave up, Quevedo was supposed to be a good prospect, but in 326.1 major league innings with the Cubs and Brewers, his ERA was 6.15.  Bowie got a shot to be a LOOGY for the Cubs and the A's, Nats, and Rockies to follow.  Nation started two games with the Cubs in 2000, but was out of professional ball by 2001.

Well, that's it for today.  We will conclude this list tomorrow. 

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