The Atlanta Braves are a much better team than they were yesterday. Earlier today, they acquired Astros’ outfielder Michael Bourn in a five-player trade which sent Jordan Schafer and three minor league pitchers to Houston. The trade is very beneficial for both teams but it is especially helpful from the Braves’ perspective, especially when you consider the fact that they didn’t give up a lot.
Ever since shortstop Rafael Fucal left the Braves in 2005, the team hasn’t had a traditional leadoff hitter at the top of the order. Andruw Jones would eventually leave the team in 2007 and the Braves haven’t since found a stable and effective center fielder (no offense to Nate McLouth).
Both of those problems were solved with the acquisition of Michael Bourn and as expected, the Braves’ front office was thrilled to have him. Braves General Manager Frank Wren released the following statement on MLB.com this morning.
“Michael Bourn is a perfect fit for our club, which focuses on speed and defense to match up with our strong pitching, this trade gives us the first true leadoff hitter we’ve had in a number of years.”‘
Bourn’s batting average currently stands at .303 and he does lead the majors in stolen bases with 39, providing big-time speed to a Braves team that has been relatively very slow in recent years. Additionally, Bourn is a two-time Gold Glove winner, so the Braves can be sure to expect superior defense from him.
Michael Bourn is not the big-time slugger that will hit 50 home runs annually but he should make a big impact with Atlanta because he fits in so perfectly. The 2011 Braves now look a lot like the Braves of the 90s that were so successful. Michael Bourn is like Otis Nixon, at the top of the lineup providing elite speed and defense. Dan Uggla, Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, and Freddie Freeman will provide power and timely hitting much like Fred McGriff, David Justice, and the young Chipper Jones did. Though it’s doubtful that we’ll ever see starting pitching like Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine/Avery again, the 2011 Braves starters have been exceptional led by Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, and Tim Hudson.
The Braves are now poised to make a deep run in the playoffs as they are now much more complete as a team. The first-place Phillies also recently acquired Hunter Pence from the Astros and the defending champs (San Francisco Giants) picked up Carlos Beltran from the Mets, so it’s safe to say that the main contenders in National League are beefing up for the playoffs.
Should be an exciting September ..