Late Monday night, the Atlanta Braves finally made a big splash in the trade market when they received left-handed starter Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson from the Chicago Cubs for right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.
Some are upset that the Braves gave up Vizcaino, who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. They cite that he has the potential to develop into one of the game's best relievers, as evidenced by the power bullpen arm that he provided Atlanta with last season, despite posting a 1-1 record and a 4.67 ERA in 17 appearances. While I agree with those who feel this way, I also think that parting with the 21-year-old was the right move.
You see, trading such a young talent was the correct decision because it filled the most glaring needs that the Braves had - the ones they most needed to address in order to make a sustained run at the Washington Nationals, who currently lead Atlanta by 2 1/2 games in the National League East.
Being that this is Chipper Jones' final season, the Braves would love to send their future Hall of Fame third baseman out with a World Series title, and this move made an already solid team even stronger.
The 30-year-old Maholm may not be the top-of-the-line starter that the Braves were looking for, but with way their staff pitched during the month of July behind veterans Ben Sheets and Tim Hudson as well as youngster Mike Minor, the fact that they were able to bring in another experienced arm allows the Braves to enter August with increased optimism. And while Tommy Hanson was placed on the disabled list yesterday, Atlanta has the depth necessary to replace him without missing a beat, as evidenced by the performance of Kris Medlen last night.
The Braves also have a plethora of promising young starters at the minor league level, including Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Sean Gilmartin, and Zeke Spruill, none of which they had to give up in order to acquire Maholm. The southpaw, who is currently on perhaps the hottest streak of his career, has gone 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA over his last seven appearances (six starts) and is 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 20 starts this season.
Maholm helps the Braves balance their rotation, providing them with a second lefty, while the 35-year-old Johnson, who can play all three outfield positions and gives the Braves the reliable bench piece that they have lacked all season, is batting .302 with three homers and 16 RBIs. Even more impressively, he is hitting .448 as a pinch-hitter.
Well played, (Braves general manager) Frank Wren. Now it's up to the players to chase down those pesky Nats.
Sources: ESPN.com, huffingtonpost.com, and minorleaguebaseball.com
Josh McKinney is a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan who is hopeful that the Braves will finally end their 17-year World Series drought this season in order to send his favorite player, Chipper Jones, out on top. You can follow McKinney on Twitter @SuperJMac32.
Other articles by Josh McKinney:
- Sports & Recreation
- Atlanta Braves
- Paul Maholm
- Chipper Jones