Tuesday, July 9, 2013

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

Yesterday, I started what I consider the Top Ten July Trades since I started to follow the Braves in 1991.  Not all of these trades pushed Atlanta into the playoffs.  Sometimes, they just represent an effort to move in a different direction.  Regardless, one thing is for sure.  No deal that brings Teix to Atlanta will make this list.  With that in mind, let's finish the countdown.

5. July 10, 2009 - Braves trade Jeff Francoeur to the New York Mets for Ryan Church

For a fan who was un-apologetically anti-Francoeur, trading him was a pleasant surprise in 2009.  As mentioned before, even after bringing back LaRoche, the Braves failed to turn the tide and make the playoffs in '09.  Church had put up good numbers in the past with the Nats, but had struggled to stay healthy and dealt with concussions before this trade.  He played in just 44 games with the Braves, posting a .749 OPS after the trade.  He was ultimately non-tendered and after a 2010 that saw him play for the Pirates and Diamondbacks, his career was over.  However, his arrival meant the end of Francoeur's time in Atlanta and that is enough to make this list.  Remember, my rules!

4. July 31, 2010 - Braves trade Gregor Blanco, Jesse Chavez, and Tim Collins to the Kansas City Royals for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth

Farnsworth is the only player on this list to be acquired twice in July deals.  Five years to the day since coming over from the Tigers, Farnsworth and former-pitcher Ankiel came over in 2010 as the Braves looked for a playoff push in Bobby Cox's final season.  Unlike '05, Farnsworth wasn't going to take over late inning duties and instead, brought depth to a tired bullpen.  He posted a 1.10 WHIP with 25 K's in 20 innings and even tossed a pair of scoreless postseason innings.  Ankiel's arrival was to replace the under-performing Nate McLouth, who was horrendous in 2010.  Ankiel only hit .210 down the stretch, but did enter Braves lore with his Game Two 11th inning homer that led the Braves to their only victory of the NLDS against the Giants.  Chavez was picked up from the Pirates before the 2010 campaign, sucked as a Brave, and sucked as a Royal.  After starting two games for the Blue Jays last year, he has found a role in the Oakland pen this year, posting a surprising 1.06 WHIP.  Blanco was a low-ceiling guy who could max out what he did provide and has found a spot with the Giants.  Famously, he made a Perfect Game-saving catch last season and is hitting .270 this year.  Collins remains with the Royals and the diminutive reliever has a 9.8 K/9 in 166.2 innings for Kansas City with a 1.39 WHIP.

3. July 30, 2012 - Braves trade Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino to the Chicago Cubs for Reed Johnson, Paul Maholm, and cash

The most recent addition to this list, the Braves had already struck out with the Cubs over Ryan Dempster, who didn't want to come to the Braves for Randall Delgado among others.  The Braves regrouped and tried Chicago again, acquiring a steady fourth outfielder to replace Matt Diaz and a consistent middle-of-the-rotation arm for their playoff push.  While they failed to catch the Nationals, the Braves did get into a one-game playoff that was cruel and unusual punishment.  Chapman would go on to appear in 14 games with the Cubs last season before being non-tendered after the season.  The Cubs did bring him back on a minor league deal and he appeared in four games for the Iowa Cubs this year before either being injured or released.  Vizcaino, who made it to the majors in 2011, seems to have had a second straight lost season to injury troubles. 

2. July 31, 2011 - Braves trade Brett Oberholtzer, Juan Abreu, Paul Clemens, and Jordan Schafer to the Houston Astros for Michael Bourn and cash

After struggling through center field options in 2011 with McLouth again failing, Jose Constanza range-limited, and Schafer continuing to fall from grace, the Braves struck before the deadline for a big piece.  Bourn was supposed to answer two season-long issues by leading off and playing center.  In the final two months, he did the latter much better than the former, reaching base at a .321 clip.  His failures didn't help stave off the colossal meltdown that saw the Braves collapse down the stretch and miss the playoffs.  Bourn did have a solid 2012 for the Braves, stealing 42 bases and earned a well-deserved Gold Glove.  Oberholtzer was the best prospect in the deal and he has appeared in three games with the Astros this season, though he won't be appearing on any prospect lists anytime soon.  Abreu got into seven games with the Astros in 2011, but was waived the following season and hasn't pitched this season.  Clemens has been horrendous with the Astros this season, giving up 10 homers in just 42 innings as a long reliever.  His WHIP and K rates are serviceable, but hard to polish a turd that includes over 2 homers per nine innings.  But it's the Astros.  They don't have many options.  Schafer appeared in 136 games with the Astros after joining the organization, but they thought so little of him that they waived him before he became arbitration eligible.  The Braves pounced on him and he has been resurgent in his return, posting a .399 OBP in 146 PA before recently being DL'd. 

1. July 18, 1993 - Braves trade Vince Moore, Donnie Elliott, and Melvin Nieves to the San Diego Padres for Fred McGriff

Was there any doubt what trade would top this list?  The Crime Dog was the second member of of the Walk-Off Walk Favorites list and I went over this trade into depth, but it was a hugely important move for the Braves in 1993 to get them to the playoffs.  McGriff's role on the 1995 World Series-winning team cannot be understated.  And considering that the package was so minimal for a guy who posted an .885 OPS with the Braves, this deal is a slam-dunk for the top July trade since I started to follow the Braves.  And no one probably welcomed the trade more than McGriff.  In 1991, he had been walked intentionally 26 times.  The year following, it was 23 times.  In 636 games and just over 2700 plate appearances with the Braves, he was walked just 32 times.

Hope you enjoyed this little countdown.  Please comment if you think a deal was overlooked for its importance.  

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