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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.