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MOVES IN THE NL EAST

[July 29th] -- Anyone want to talk about Friday's game? Didn't think so.

On to more important matters.

The face of the National League East is beginning to change. The Phillies traded David Bell to the Milwaukee Brewers for a minor league pitcher while the Atlanta Braves traded Wilson Benemit to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Danys Baez, a right-handed reliever, and utilityman Willy Aybar.

The Phillies trade is one of those "wait-and-see" type of deals. Bell is 33 and at the end of his career, and the player they traded for is a career class 'A' pitcher. Who knows how it will play out. But Wilson Benemit? Benemit, along with Andy Marte, was to have been an integral cog in the Braves' future. Benemit was batting .281-9-29 at the time of the trade, and was on a pace to hit 25 homers and drive in 90 runs had he been playing everyday. He's 25, and could easily have taken over for Rafael Furcal as the team's starting short-stop. Instead, the Braves traded Marte for Edgar Renteria, and now have traded Benemit as well.

Although the Braves are still run by John Scherholtz, his style has certainly changed. Could you imagine the Braves trading away a young Javy Lopez, or Ryan Klesko, or even Chipper Jones, to remain in a pennant race? Sure, he made trades for established players, but he never gave up a real prospect, a future starter, for any of those veterans he brought in. I'll bet that Marte and Benemit combine for 45-55 home runs next season, while Chipper Jones keeps getting older and Edgar Renteria keeps sucking the team's checkbook dry. I just don't get it.

Comments:
I think your evaluation of Betemit is a bit optimistic, Farid. In my Braves fan days, I followed Betemit closely and he consistently underperformed expecations. For example, in 2.5 seasons at AAA he never posted an OPS above .336. For someone who was being counted on as a lead-off sparkplug that's not really acceptable performance. He has acquitted himself decently at the major league level, but he is still striking out too much, IMO.

The bottom line for me is to never bet against John Scheuerholtz. 16 straight division titles means you'll probably lose those bets.
 
My preference would be to trade Larry Broadway. Nick is the most consistent hitter that the Nats have. Broadway has put up decent numbers this year at NOLA but all PCL hitting statistics are suspect since it always has been a hitters' league. Even Brandon Watson hit .355 last year and we know he can't hit a lick. Keep Nick and trade Broadway.
 
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