Braves to add on to outfield?

Published 8:08 pm Friday, July 2, 2010

The July 4 holiday is traditionally considered the halfway point of the Major League Baseball season.

With that in mind, and July 4 only a day away, teams that are in contention for division championships and wild card playoff berths are considering various trade possibilities that could improve their rosters for the playoff run.

My favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, is one of those teams considering their options.

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Rumors I have seen have the Braves possibly attempting to trade for one of three right-handed outfielders: Josh Willingham of the Washington Nationals, Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers or Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays.

When everyone is healthy, the Braves outfield seems to be in good shape with left-handed hitting Nate McLouth in center and left-handed hitting rookie Jason Heyward in right. Unfortunately, both are currently on the disabled list.

Eric Hinske, the left-fielder, has had to step in as a starter because Matt Diaz, who saw most of the playing time early in he season, is also injured.

The Braves could definitely use a solid right-handed bat in the outfield, and Willingham, Hart and Bautista could all be good fits.

The question is how many top prospects from the Braves’ strong minor league farm system would the Nationals, Brewers or Blue Jays ask for in a trade?

With this being future Hall of Fame Manager Bobby Cox’s final season with the Braves, I would like to see them go deep into the post-season and possibly even win their second World Series championship under him. It might take the addition of a right-handed hitting outfielder to do that.

Let’s take a look at the statistics currently being put up by the three right handed hitting outfielder they are rumored to be considering.

Willingham has a .407 on-base percentage, which is third overall and first among outfielders. He has also blasted 14 home runs.

Hart is hitting .281 with 18 home runs, 18 doubles and two triples. He has 60 runs batted in.

Bautista, who probably has the most power of the three, is from the Dominican Republic, but played at Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. He has blasted 20 home runs, 17 doubles and 2 triples. He has driven in 50 runs.

The major league trading deadline is July 31. If they don’t make any moves, the Braves will still have a a solid chance of making the playoffs.

If they were to pick up Willingham, Hart or Bautista, however, that chance could be even better.

I’m sure whoever takes over the Braves managerial spot next season will do well, but it just won’t seem the same without Bobby Cox in the dugout.

He ranks right up there with the greatest managers of all time. The good thing is he will remain with the team in some capacity. He is without a doubt the face of the Braves organization.