After a season-ending injury to veteran Tim Hudson, a large contingent of Braves fans (and baseball fans at large) called for the team to go out and make a move for another arm in the rotation. This would have been a hasty, impulsive decision – two adjectives you don’t often here used to describe Atlanta’s front office.
Since Frank Wren took over as Braves GM in 2007, acquisitions and roster change decisions have been made much the same way they were previously under John Schuerholz (who is now team president): methodically and with great discernment.
So it is no surprise the Braves did not show a bit of panic when Hudson went down. Wren, Schuerholz, and Freddi Gonzalez know their team and organization, and they know the market.
The arms available to replace Hudson this season were extremely limited, with the likes Chicago White Sox’ Jake Peavy (who has now been traded to the Boston Red Sox), Houston Astros’ Bud Norris (who is now with the Baltimore Orioles), Milwaukee Brewers’ Kyle Lohse and Kansas City Royals’ Ervin Santana topping the list.
None of these pitchers would have supplied the Braves with the veteran experience to effectively replace Hudson.
Instead, the Braves chose to stick with what they have, bringing Brandon Beachy off the disabled list to replace Hudson and calling up Alex Wood to start in place of Paul Maholm, who was forced to leave his last start on July 20 due to a sprained wrist. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Maholm aims to throw a light bullpen this weekend in hopes of making his next start.
But if Wood’s last start is any indication, the rookie lefty is a more-than-capable replacement should Maholm need to be out longer. Wood’s solid seven innings of three-run ball against the Colorado Rockies on July 30 further solidifies the notion that the Braves made the correct decision in not making a deal for another starting pitcher.
The organization has plenty of young pitching talent to absorb the loss of Hudson with the likes of Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and the imminent emergence of Wood. With such a young rotations throwing so well, it is likely that the Braves won’t renew Maholm’s contract at the end of the season and will allow Wood to take his spot full-time.
Had the Braves dealt for an arm before the trade deadline, they would have had yet another pitcher to consider for their rotation in the playoffs and next season. That would have meant a more clogged-up pitching staff, and either someone would be out of a rotational spot (most likely Wood or Kris Medlen) or the Braves would have had to offload another pitcher at season’s end along with Maholm.
Once again, the Atlanta front office proves its merit and makes the proper decision: stick with the talent they’ve got and let them develop.