Baseball’s hot stove heating up

Published 12:56 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2011

As a big baseball fan, this week is of great interest to me.

It is time for major league baseball’s annual winter meetings where many trades usually take place to heat up the off-season hot stove league. This week’s winter meetings are in Dallas, Texas.

As an Atlanta Braves fan, I’m particularly anxious to see what kind of deal or deals they might or might not make.

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They made the biggest splash at last year’s winter meetings by trading for Florida Marlins slugging second baseman Dan Uggl,a who had an outstanding offensive season with the Braves. He blasted 36 home runs and drove in 82 runs.

This off-season, the Braves might do well to look for a power-hitting outfielder to hit in the middle of the order with Uggla, veteran third baseman Chipper Jones and All-Star catcher Brian McCann.

Martin Prado and right-handed starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens have been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks.

Prado, who was the Braves starting second baseman in 2010, moved to left field last season when Uggla took over at second base.

Personally, I would not like to see Prado traded for a couple of reasons.

First, he has been one of the best clutch hitters in the game the past few years, and second, he is one of the most versatile players in the game, with the ability to play any infield or any outfield position.

His statistics were a little off last year but that was mainly because he had to miss five weeks with a lower leg staph infection.

Turning to Jurrjens, I would also like to see him stay with the Braves. He started strong last season and was selected to the National League All-Star pitching staff. Unfortunately, he had to withdraw because of a right knee injury.

If Jurjens is traded, it could, in my opinion, put the Braves starting staff in a little bit of a bind.

Right hander Tim Hudson, the staff ace, is coming off back surgery, and right hander Tommy Hanson is coming back from shoulder problems.

By the time many people read this column, Prado and Jurrjens might have already been traded, but I hope not.

Braves general manager Frank Wren has made his share of good deals and is much smarter than me, and I am sure if he does decide to trade the versatile Prado and the reliable starter Jurrjens it will help the team in other areas.

As I write this column on Tuesday morning, the Miami Marlins, formerly the Florida Marlins, have made the biggest news, signing free agent New York Mets All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes to a lucrative contract.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens the rest of the week in Dallas. The hot stove should really be flaring up.