The Braves already have made moves to augment their rotation, calling up super prospect Tommy Hanson to make his major league debut on Sunday, after summoning Kris Medlen last month. But Atlanta might not be done adding pitching.
Atlanta is one of the teams in conversation with the Boston Red Sox about veteran right-hander Brad Penny, according to sources, at a time when the Red Sox have been doing their own research on Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur.
As the Braves do their background work on Penny, this is part of what they have ascertained: The 31-year-old right-hander started horribly for the Red Sox, but he has pitched better in recent starts, allowing three earned runs or fewer in five of his past six starts.
Overall, Penny is 5-1 with a 5.63 ERA, with his velocity increasing as the season has progressed, and his penchant for generating fly balls might make him a better fit in the National League, and in a pitchers' park, such as Turner Field.
The Braves already have the makings of a good rotation, with Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and Jair Jurrjens -- and now Hanson. Kenshin Kawakami has made 10 starts, mustering a 4.63 ERA. The Braves currently rank fourth in starters' ERA, at 3.90.
Atlanta's bullpen, however, has been a problem -- the Braves ranked 17th among 30 teams in relief ERA, at 4.32.
It is unclear whether Atlanta would have interest in Penny as a starter or as a reliever; if the Braves added Penny to their rotation, they could shift Kawakami into their bullpen.
Kawakami has been effective, generally, through the first 45 pitches of his starts, but opponents have an OPS of 1.042 against him in pitches 46 to 60.
The Braves have a reputation among other teams for being precise in their accounting, so it may be that they could be motivated to move Francoeur -- who is hitting .251 this year, at age 25 -- partly to free up money. He is making $3.38 million in salary this year, while Penny is making $5 million, plus incentives.
Earlier this week, the Braves released Tom Glavine, who would have earned $1 million on the first day with the team, and acquired center fielder Nate McLouth from the Pittsburgh Pirates for three prospects.
The Braves and Red Sox match up with other pieces and parts, as well, if they were to expand their conversations beyond Penny and Francoeur.
Buster Olney is a senior baseball writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Are you freaking kidding me? IF this deal happens it has got to be one of the stupidest moves in baseball history. We cut ties with the last of the big 3 pitchers we have after we send him on a bunch of minor league rehab assignments. We tell him he's not good enough to pitch for us, (We all disgrace a man who won over 230 plus games for our team, not to mention possibly pissed him off enough to keep him from helping as a scout, or spring training instructor or anything like that.) then we deal our RF who is at the lowest point of his short career for...... a crappy pitcher? Seriously is Frank Wren smoking crack? What would be the point of trading away Francoeur for Brad Penny?..... IF we needed pitching then MAYBE but most likely still not. We could have kept Glavine (Sold some extra tickets since a lot of people would like to see a 300 game winning pitching pitch.), Kept Francoeur who has ZERO on the trade return.
Geez please guys is there any logic to this? I know I'm a homer but this just seems stupid.