Thursday, July 22, 2010

Corey Hart Trade Series: ATL Braves/SD Padres

Continuing the Corey Hart trade series, let's take a look at what a potential trade to the NL East leading Atlanta Braves would mean for both teams.

Right field in Atlanta is currently occupied by Jason Heyward, so something tells me Corey Hart will not be taking over there. However, left field is a little more wide open. Sharing the duties in left are Eric Hinske and Matt Diaz. Hinske has had a nice season with the bat this season, posting a .273/.340/.492/.832 in 183 at bats. However, it's pretty safe to say the Braves would prefer to use Hinske off the bench. He has a -10.4 UZR/150 in left this season.

In Diaz, the Braves have a much better defensive option, but he has also struggled with the bat. In 117 at bats, Diaz is batting .256/.293/.453/.746 for the Braves. Despite posting a UZR/150 of over 30 in LF, he has still only has a 0.5 WAR this season. However, Diaz has 13 hits in his last 34 at bats, with four homers. He looks to be back to his normal form at the plate. I'd be very surprised if the Brewers and Braves are able to strike a deal, seeing as the Braves probably won't overpay for Hart and the Brewers are overly looking to ship him.

So, instead of breaking down a trade suitor unlikely to happen, I'll look at the San Diego Padres.

If there is one team in need of a bat in the major leagues, it is the San Diego Padres. If there is one team in the major leagues in need of a right fielder, it is the San Diego Padres. That has led to a lot of attention on Corey Hart.

The Padres are currently averaging 4.35 runs per game, good for 12th in the National League. Starting in right field is Will Veneble. In 217 at bats, Veneble is hitting .235/.321/.410/.731, with above average defense (4.0 UZR/150). That's good enough for 1.4 WAR this season. Not bad, but also not as good as Corey Hart.

In left field, it's a similar story for the Friars. They are currently starting Scott Hariston, who has a pretty similar line, with much worse defense. He is currently hitting .240/.319/.397/.717 in 229 at bats, with a -7.0 UZR/150. Still not as good as Hart, but remember where both these players are playing. In San Diego, the ball doesn't go anywhere, leading to power outages from just about everyone. Going off topic, I wonder what Adrian Gonzalez could do in another ballpark. Anyway, what could the Brewers fetch in a trade with the Pads?

The biggest problem in completing a trade with the Padres is their lack of upper level young pitching. Doug Melvin has let it known he wants young arms at the deadline if anything is to be completed. Sure they have Mat Latos, but he is going nowhere. Other than Latos, the only other top 10 prospect that is a pitcher in their organization is Adys Portillo, but he is A-ball and not pitching well there.

One piece that could be of interest to Melvin, however is Jaff Decker. He is the third ranked prospect in the Padres organization and could help fill the outfield void after Hart leaves. Decker, 20, was drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft. In three minor league seasons, Decker has posted a .435 OBP and a OPS just under .900. Those are really impressive numbers. Even so, I don't know if Melvin will be willing to part with Hart for a player who is a couple of seasons away from the majors.

If the Padres were willing to include Clayton Richard in a trade with the Brewers, they might be a little more willing to part with Hart. However, the Padres, as stated above, aren't blessed with upper level pitching talent, so parting with Richard creates another hole. Something I'd be willing to bet the Padres are unwilling to do. That's why, if I had to guess, Hart has little chance to end up in SoCal with the Pads. I'm not saying it can't happen, but the odds aren't as likely as a move elsewhere.

Stay tuned as I'll have an article soon on Hart and a possible destination to Tampa Bay.

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