The Atlanta Braves don’t need Zack Greinke. They don’t need James Shields. They don’t need Felix Hernandez … well, Felix might … just might help, but that’s not going to happen. What the Braves need to do is move Kris Medlen back to the rotation. They’ve been toying with it, and it’s crossed their minds during this process, but it’s their plan Z when it should be their plan A.
After listening to the game on Wednesday — after Tommy Hanson somehow walked seven batters and let seven base runners steal base after base against him, and still walked away giving up only one run — the announcers were raving about Medlen and the work he was putting in on the mound. He was dealing and has been pretty much all year.
Before Medlen went down with Tommy John surgery last year, he was 6-2 with a 3.68 ERA with 83 strikeouts to only 21 walks in 100-plus innings. Medlen going down caused a jolt in the rotation that left the Braves trying to fill the void, and the rotation became very inconsistent. It hasn’t been the same since.
It’s not that I have a problem with Grienke, Shields or Henandez, it’s just they come with deep pockets. Greinke will cost more prospects than what the Braves and fans want to part with. But the Braves will more than likely go for it, since it wouldn’t look good to most fans to not land anything after falling out of the Ryan Dempster sweepstakes. Then, Greinke will probably either walk (the Braves would get nothing) or command a very large contract, north of $20MM. Shields and Hernandez are locked for another year after this, but it would cost the same package the Braves gave up to get Mark Teixeira, which makes me go “hell no.”
So, what’s my brilliant plan? I’m glad you asked.
Braves move Medlen to the rotation. Medlen has posted a 2.48 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in 54.1 innings pitched so far, and he’s only gotten better as the season gets deeper. In the month of July, he’s posted a 0.55 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP in 16 innings with 13 Ks. Imagine Medlen back in the rotation with Tim Hudson, Hanson, Ben Sheets and Mike Minor. Sounds like a good rotation to me!
The Braves should have started with plan A: Bring Medlen back in the rotation and trade for a bullpen pitcher to fill his spot. They could put Jurrjens in the bullpen if they wanted to, but I’m not sure how that would work out. There are options out there, including Kameron Loe, who I wouldn’t mind seeing in the bullpen.
The biggest reason Medlen would be the better option here is the Braves won’t have to or feel the need to fork over a lot of cash to keep Greinke the following year. I would rather see the Braves re-sign Michael Bourn to an extension, as he’s been the reason this Braves offense ranks in the top 10 in the majors. Having the first real lead-off hitter since Rafael Furcal left has paid divedends, and it’s trickling down the lineup. Losing him would be very tough next year.
So, let’s move Kris Medlen to the rotation, trade for a good reliever and then re-sign Bourn after the season. After all, Brandon Beachy will be back next year as well.