Martin Prado vs the World, Part I: Re-Examining the Prospect of a Trade

I will make a confession to you: I am an Atlanta Braves’ fan. I have been a fan since I was a child. I enjoyed watching the Braves when they were terrible and uncompetitive and struggled with Dale Murphy as their best player. I, like every Braves’ fan, was excited to see them win the pennant in 1991 and begin “The Streak” of postseason appearances and National League dominance.

When I started blogging for the Rant Sports Network, I was able to put a passion of mine into something concrete and tangible. I was able to write about my interests and hobbies and give my opinions. I tried to do it in a way that was as unbiased as possible, though, I admit that sometimes my fandom shines through.

Recently, I blogged about some of the rumors swirling around Martin Prado. I suggested that the Braves should consider trading him to upgrade their team. My opinion in this matter struck a cord with some and I want to address this more fully while answering some critiques of my opinion. I also want to say that, please share you opinions with me. We may disagree, but I believe everyone who reads this blog wants the same thing I do…the Braves to win a World Series. That is what Fredi Gonzalez, John Schuerholz and Frank Wren want as well. Liberty Media…not so much, but everyone else, yes.

In my blog, I said the Braves should consider trading Prado for Delmon Young. First off, I did not say that the trade should be a 1 for 1 deal. That would be terrible and the Braves would regret that deal. But, if the Braves traded Prado for Young and a good prospect, it may be worth while to do so.

The question mark in this trade would be Young. We really don’t know what he could bring to the table. He has, in my opinion, only scratched the surface of his potential. He may never live up to his potential. Many players have hype that they never live up to. That is part of sports.

With Prado, we know what we have with him. He showed us what he is capable of doing in 2010. The question is, can he do that again? That is the question that the Braves have to answer. If he can regain that form, he is more valuable to this team for the long-term. If he can’t, the Braves have a trade piece that is more valuable now than ever. They have to at least consider the value that trading Prado could add to the team in the short-term as well as the long-term.

Mr. Cavey shared these comments on my blog about Prado:

No way, Prado is more tha just a left fielder to the braves… If Chipper goes down this season Prado is the Braves back up 3rd baseman, as well as a full on utility man.

as most sports writers should know, Prado isnt just a left fielder who had a 2.60 year.. he was a backup 2nd baseman to Kelly Johnson and found his way into the lineup and never looked back…

As for prado himself, lets see he has played 1st 2nd 3rd base, both LF and RF, and a huge backup for Chipper Jones… what has young done? what other postitions can he play? how much more would he want on a contract and how would his attidtude be? to many unknowns for a halfway decent bat when Prado had 2 time the workrate and batter potiental

First off, these comments are valid. Prado’s value to the team is more than him playing in left field. He is the best back-up second baseman and third baseman in the game. The drop-off between Chipper Jones and Prado is not huge. Though, the difference is that they are different types of players. Chipper has pitchers pitch around him, Prado doesn’t. The reason why is that Chipper has been around for a long time and he has a good reputation.

The main problem that the Braves have with Prado is not that he can be a super-utility player. The problem is when everyone is healthy, he is our starting left-fielder. Martin Prado would be one of the best second baseman in the game, if he still played there. Dan Uggla is the best hitter in the game at second base. Prado moved to left-field with no complaints and played good defense out there. But, as a left-fielder, he was un-productive. His .260 avg and .302 OBP was the lowest of his career. He hit .309/.358/.461 from 2008 to 2010. He was a part-time player in 2008 and the first part of 2009, then took over as the everyday second baseman at the end of 2009 and held that position in 2010.

The issue is that the Braves need more offensive production out of left field than Prado gave in 2011. If he is a utility player, then the issues becomes is he being paid more than he is worth. The Braves cannot afford to pay utility players $5 million. Prado would get a ton of at bats in that role, but his value comes when he is playing on the field. What is probably going through the Braves’ front office people’s minds is whether Prado’s move to left field hurt his offensive production. Playing that new position could have affected him at the plate. Of course, the main issue is his injuries. I think they hurt him more than the move to left field.

What the Braves are trying to do is upgrade their offense. If that comes with a rebound from Jason Heyward and Martin Prado, then great. If the Braves can use Prado’s high trade value and upgrade their team offensively, then great.

What fans want is for the Braves to be better than they were in 2010 and 2011. They won the wild card in 2010 in the same way that they lost it in 2011: stumbling down the stretch.

Prado has significant trade value on the open market. Delmon Young isn’t going to be the piece that causes the Braves to trade Prado. But, that piece may be out there and the Braves will do it if they get the right player(s) in return.

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  • Drew

    Prado should not be traded, and here’s why and what needs to be done:

    He had a down 2011 for two reasons:
    1) The staph infection. It doesn’t look like he ever fully recovered. I expect him to be healthy and in 2010 form in the spring.
    2) Hitting in the 2 hole behind Bourne. He clearly struggled when Bourne was on base while taking a couple of pitches to set up a steal. I suggest moving Chipper into the spot. Lineup below keeps the lefty/righty matchup going and protects give Prado, along with everybody else, a much greater chance to succeed. Chipper has the veteran experience and patience for this to payoff. The only concern I’d have is Chipper will get even more walks than he normally does and put more pressure on the 3 and 4 slots.

    1)Bourne
    2)Chipper
    3)Freddie
    4)Uggla
    5)Mac
    6)Prado
    7)Heyward
    8)SS
    9)P

    Prado excelled in 2010 in the leadoff spot. Him being healthy as well as not having the pressure to be patient makes me expect him to have a much better ’12 and will disregard ’11 as an anomaly.

    • http://www.tomahawktalk.com Chad

      Drew,
      Thanks for sharing. I agree with you. I expect him to rebound significantly. Do you think that he will be good enough to play left field, though? That is the biggest issue with him. He is not a left-fielder and that position demands more production than he gives and the Braves have had in a long time. I think he and Heyward will rebound moving into 2012.

  • SpenceT.

    What does Prado being in left field have to do with his bat? Like you said, he played well in left in 2010. Not great, but good enough to play at a high level. Much better than other teams who just put big bats out there i.e. Ibanez. He was coming back from a hip pointer and torn oblique that required months of bed rest and NO MOVEMENT. Prado, who is clearly a “hard work” player, wasn’t able to put much time into his season preparation. And with something as important to a swing as hips are, there’s going to be tweaking in your swing. He’ll be back 100 percent in ’12 and I expect ’10 Prado to reappear. He’s never given us a reason to believe he can’t hit for a high average (other than the injuries) outside of last season, but, at the same time, doesn’t have a huge amount of MLB experience under his belt. I’m not saying we shouldn’t shop him, but like you said, it’s all about value. If we can get great value in return or lure a team into sending too much our way because of his value, then I’m all for it. If not, you’re keeping one of the most professional hitters and valuable backups in your lineup.

    • http://www.tomahawktalk.com Chad

      Spence,
      What I meant is that because of left field being a common power and run production part of a lineup, Prado is already playing with a proverbial handicap. If he hit like he did in 2010, he would still be a liability in terms of power and typical production from the left field average in the league.

      I think the Braves have no problem with Prado in left field if he is productive. What compounded his struggles in 11 was the fact that Heyward struggled as well. Having two black holes of production out of your outfield (which isn’t taking into account Alex Gonzalez’s lack of production or the abysmal production in center field in the pre-Bourn days) does not bode to a productive year from an offensive standpoint.

      Like you and I both agree, the Braves should shop him if it betters the team. Otherwise, his value to the team as a backup and productive .300 hitter would be too hard to replace without the right piece. What I wonder, is whether the Braves may have soured on him because of his inability to stay healthy. Though, his injuries the past two years have been flukey at best.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • brian

    I love Prado i think his work ethic and willingness to move around the field for the good of the team is an asset any team would want. That being said i know my opinion is biased but i think unless you can drastically improve your ball club with a trade, you hold onto prado. Face it Chipper will be gone at the end of this year, and prado is ready to step in on a day to day basis. As for his offensive struggles i believe Chipper had the same struggles when he switched to left field earlier this decade. Prado will figure the offense out, his defense is average out there, and above average on the infield. Stick with the kid, and give him a chance to prove himself once again.

    • http://www.tomahawktalk.com Chad

      Brian,
      I agree with you completely. I don’t think the Braves will trade Prado unless they can upgrade the team in other areas. If the rumors are true about the Colorado Rockies, the Braves are trying to improve this team beyond 2012. If they deal him, they will have to find a “Omar Infante” type player somewhere, whether through a trade or not. If Prado is dealt, it will come next week at the Winter Meetings.

  • ScottieB

    I’ll start by admitting that I am a HUGE Prado fan. I think that, when healthy, he is the biggest catalyst for this team, and you can’t replace his work ethic and club house presence. That being said, I have been wondering why the Braves haven’t tried to move him to SS? I think that his defensive skills are very similar to Infante and we had no problem throwing him there. Defensive production will drop compared to Gonzales but his offense should be a big upgrade. But we still need at least one more bat to push us over the hump to a championship caliber team. Let me run a few scenarios by you.

    1. Move Prado to SS and use the Lowe and Mclouth money to sign Carlos Beltran.
    2. If the Marlins sign Reyes, trade two of our young arms for Hanley Ramirez and Infante, and trade Prado to the Tigers or Rockies for prospects. Then sign a serviceable left fielder.
    3. Move Prado to SS and trade two of our young arms for Adre Eithier. I doubt the Dodgers are looking to re-sign him after the deal they just gave Kemp and the one they will want to give Kershaw.

    I think its obvious we have a lot of pitching and a lack of offense. It would be foolish to sit on these young arms when their value may never be higher. Your thoughts?

    • http://www.tomahawktalk.com Chad

      Scottie,
      I am a Prado fan too. I have liked him since he came up to the team as a part-timer.

      As for him playing SS, you are the third or fourth person that has asked about that possibility. I did some digging and found that Prado has played a total of 10 games in his professional career at SS. He played 8 games in the minors and 2 games in the majors at the position. From a defensive standpoint, he is not a SS. He doesn’t have the range, nor the arm to make the necessary plays that a SS has to make.

      He is very valuable at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF and RF, but the positions that are not listed on this list are positions that he is physically not capable of playing at a MLB level. Moving from Alex Gonzalez’s defense to Martin Prado would be one of the most drastic drop in production that you would ever see. If you think that Brooks Conrad’s melt down was bad, Prado would make fans hate him if he played SS on a consistent basis.

      Your other points are interesting. I think if Wren could do what you were saying, he would probably consider it. I think that it would cost much more for Infante and Hanley than two young arms. The Ethier idea is intriguing, though, the Dodgers would want a huge return…probably like the Mark Teixiera trade from Texas. We have seen how bad that trade hurt the past two seasons.

      If Prado is traded, expect it to happen next week.

  • Brandon

    Hey Chad,
    First off I’ld like to say you have very good blog with sound analysis. I am as well probably in the minority here and believe trading prado for the right price could be extremely beneficial to the braves. My thinking and has been for awhile is that the Braves are wanting Carlos Quentin, Ever since last trade deadline. They seem to be enamoured by his ability. That being said if they could build a package to in essence trade prado then make a joining move trading for Quentin being the end result or this type of player. I believe we will see Wren do this or something similar to this done this week. Also i believe that the Nick Swisher trade rumor isn’t far off, either! In closing this would totally benefit the Braves and help smooth the void of Losing Prado. My lone concern is I see nobody more fiited for the number 2 hole in our lineup when healthy than Prado! When healthy Heyward possibly, and its too early for Pasto. But this fact kind of scares me when thinking of trading Prado! Thank You for your time and Go Braves!

    • http://www.tomahawktalk.com Chad

      Brandon,
      Thanks for the words. If he is traded, it will happen this week at the Winter Meetings. Prado is a good player and I think he is better than he showed in 2011. I also feel that the Braves have to consider improving beyond this year too. Prado gives the potential to do that.

      I think Heyward could be a solid #2 guy again. A lot of that depends on Gonzalez actually putting him there and having confidence that he can do the job.