Braves outfield needs to get Young…

Delmon Young LG.jpg

With Spring Training upon us, the Atlanta Braves find themselves
still searching the market for an everyday outfielder. Putting aside
the usual suspects, a crowded outfield in Minnesota could make former
first rounder Delmon Young available for the right price.

In
the wake of a disappointing 2008 season, in which his power output
dropped to just 10 homers and 69 RBI, Young finds himself in a
potential battle for playing time.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has already expressed that Carlos Gomez, Denard Span and Michael Cuddyer all deserve regular playings time. Throw Jason Kubel into the equation at designated hitter and the picture gets even more crowded.

A five-tool phenom who was heralded as the finest power hitter ever
drafted by the Rays in their short history, Young hit .288 with 93 RBI
in 2007 before being dealt to Minnesota.

Young has good speed on the base paths, but his instincts in the
outfield leave something to be the desired. His above average throwing
arm projected him to be a regular right fielder in Tampa Bay.

The emergence of Span, who projects as Minnesota’s right fielder and
lead-off hitter coupled with the return of Cuddyer from injury seems to
fill in the blanks on the corner outfield spots around Gomez. Kubel
came into his own with 20 homers and 78 RBI in 463 at-bats last season,
complicating any plan to utilize Young as a regular DH.

At the plate, Young is an aggressive hitter who does not draw many
walks and has power to the gaps. Young does not draw many walks, but
saw improvement from his rookie season while brining his strikeout
total down. Despite his power potential, the 20+ homer numbers from his
early stops in the minors have yet to materialize in the majors.

That could all change with a break-out season in 2009.

The Braves have outfield prospects waiting in the wings, though only Jordan Schafer seems close to joining the big club in 2009. Jason Heyward and Gorkys Hernandez
both project an arrival time of 2010 at the earliest. Young would fit
nicely in an outfield that only looks to get more talented as the years
go on.

This winter’s free agent pool included Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, Ken Griffey Jr., Garret Anderson and Jim Edmonds.
With both Abreu and Dunn finding work this week, Burrell having already
signed with the Tampa Bay Rays and Griffey perhaps closing in on a
return to Seattle, the market leaves much to be desired.

Clearly Atlanta will not be among the “several” teams that Scott Boras is lining up for the Manny Ramirez
sweepstakes. Wren and company also opted to pass on any reunion with
former Atlanta center fielder and full-time reclamation project, Andruw Jones.

Reports have linked Atlanta to New York Yankees outfielders Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady. Both men will come at varying cost, in terms of contract and prospect talent heading to the Bronx in exchange.

Nady,
30, is owed $6.55 million and stands to be a free agent at season’s
end. Being a Boras client points makes Nady a shot term fix for
Atlanta, before testing free agency next winter. Splitting time last
season between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Yankees, Nady turned in a
career-best season by hitting ,305 with 25 homers and 97 RBI in 148
games.

Swisher, 28, is two years younger and under contract for the next three seasons. Yankees GM Brian Cashman
would prefer to trade Nady and has balked at any request to eat a
portion of the $22.05 million that Swisher is owed over the next three
seasons.

After enjoying three productive years in Oakland, Swisher’s average
bottomed out at .219 with the White Sox last season. Swisher’s best
campaign with the A’s came in  2006, when he hit .254 with 35 homers,
95 RBI and 106 runs scored.

Though he did connect for 24 homers and his 82 walks brought his
OBP up to .332, Swisher hit just .191 with only 28 RBI in the second
half. Slumping to just .164 for the month of September forced Swisher
into a platoon with DeWayne Wise.

Should
the Twins look to deal Young, Atlanta has the prospect depth to put
together a nice return. The Braves would acquire a young player who
could benefit from a change of leagues and, despite being eligible for
arbitration in the coming three seasons, probably be a cheaper
alternative than Swisher.

There has been no rumor or report that
links the Braves and Twins in any trade talks, but the pieces could be
made to fit. The biggest road block to this trade scenario will not be
the players involved, it will be Young’s agent, Arn Tellum.

After being burned in negotiations with Rafael Furcal, the Braves have vowed never to do business with Tellum, fellow agent Paul Kinzer and the Wasserman Media Group. There is no better time than to put that pledge to the test with a deal to acquire Young.

Till next time,

G-Mc

1 Comment

I actually kinda like that idea. I heard a lot about a possible Lillibridge-Young trade, but we don’t have Brent anymore. I wonder how much we would have to give up for him. I would try to get him if I were Wren.
http://darion.mlblogs.com/

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