So, I hear, since the Phillies have traded for Roy Oswalt, it’s time for the Braves to answer with a deal of their own. But deal with what, or with whom, or why?
Frankly — no reference to general manager Wren — if I were the Braves, I’d be considerably more concerned if the Phillies were getting Chase Utley and Shane Victorino back in the game. Utley hasn’t played in the last 30 games, and Victorino is just going into a stretch on the injury list. Yet, the Cheese and Steak Gang keep rumbling along.
To get an idea of what it might be like, consider if the Braves had to move along without Martin Prado and Jason Heyward — and I refer to Heyward because the Braves haven’t had an everyday centerfielder since the season began. And the best in show has been sent back down to our neighbors in Gwinnett, speaking here of Gregor Blanco, who left hitting .310, and covering the position like no one since, oh, well, Andruw Jones.
Look, this is no time to be dallying around at the trading block just cause. Yeah, Bobby Cox’s heroes just lost two series to two teams out of gas. The Marlins traded off Jose Cantu to Texas, and who’s likely to follow? Dan Uggla? Surely not Hanley Ramirez.
The Nationals have already raided their bullpen. They made a sweet move signing Matt Capps, then traded him off to the Twins about the time they lose their corporate centerpiece, Stephen Strasburg. What a sense of timing!
Now, back to the Phillies, you realize that this is the team that traded for Cliff Lee, who was only passing through town. Now they have to fill his spot. (And there’s something about Lee’s trail that fascinates me. He came up with Cleveland, the Indians traded him to the Phillies, who traded him to Seattle, who traded him to Texas ... and have I left somebody out here?
(What’s wrong with the poor guy? Does he have some kind of contagious disease? Don’t forget, this is a long, stringy kind of hillbilly from the area that gave America Lon Warneke, Schoolboy Rowe, Dizzy Dean, Johnny Sain and Preacher Roe. There’s a heritage there.)
As for the Braves, about the only disposable parts they have are pitchers. And what could they get for Derek Lowe, with his $20 million paycheck to pick up; or Kenshin Kawakami, a pitcher who has run out of usefulness, nice a fellow as he can be? Tommy Hanson has run into a fog, but he’s too young to even think of giving up on him.
Nobody is shopping around for a Chipper Jones. He plays like a fellow who’s trying to make it into retirement. A year ago, perhaps, but when that suggestion was made, that set off a rage among those fans who like to collect trophies for their den.
And what would you trade for? You have as solid a catching situation as there is in the league. With his penchant for making pieces fit, Bobby Cox can get through the season with his infield. If he needs a centerfielder, send to Gwinnett for Blanco. They apparently have given up on Jordan Schafer, a sort of mysterious flop. But trade?
Trade who for what? Don’t forget, you’re dealing with a team that’s leading its division, and that’s not bad.
Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.