Continuing our theme on the future of the Braves, I would like to turn our attention towards one position, specifically, one player. Second baseman Kelly Johnson.
Let's look at his career splits for a moment. Kelly Johnson has some of the more interesting splits you'll ever see players have. Despite the way Cox uses him, he has a significantly higher average against left handed pitchers, although his BABIP suggests luck has helped him with that. However, his slugging % is down against the lefties. Curiously enough, his OPS+ is practically even in both platoon roles.
Another interesting split - in games the Braves win Kelly hits, reaches, and slugs .311/.403/.533. However, in losses Kelly is only sporting a line of .214/.294/.316. I think this split speaks volumes.
He's pretty even home vs. road. And he's a touch better in the first half.
Kelly is at an advantage because he is a second baseman...depending on which stat you use as your base, you'll find him ranking amongst the middle of the pack when comparing him to all other second baseman around the majors.
That's pretty much what Kelly is. He's a mediocre hitter with an mediocre glove.
The flip side is that we also have 2 other hitters, Martin Prado and Omar Infante, who are swinging well enough to justify getting more at bats. So...what do we do.
Well, here's what I'd do - trade both Prado and Infante. It's pretty simple. Right now the return we'd get for them is as high as it (most likely) will ever be. Infante has never hit this well in his career. Prado, while he was a .300 hitter in the minor leagues (career), has never slugged as well as he has been in 2008. Prado is not going to be much with a career slugging % under .400 and he's not a basestealing threat. But it's a good time to trade him while he's slugging this well.
BABIP says they've been lucky this year. We've sold low all too often, it'd be nice to sell high for a change. Besides, the last time (that I can think of) that we sold high during a trade was the Edgar Renteria trade, and look how that worked out! I bet we could get a very decent return for one or both of them.
I know the drawback in doing this. Our bench would take a hit. That's probably going to be the #1 problem people have with my suggestion. However, after the results we've had this month, I really don't think we should be concerned about bench depth. We've got to get some decent starters before we start complaining about our bench. As soon as we fill out a roster full of proven mlb starters, then we'll talk about our bench. But right now, two-thirds of our regulars would be bench players on most clubs, if they are even on the roster at all.
So, I'd trade Prado and Infante. But what about Kelly? Kelly is a tough call because when he's on, the Braves win quite frequently (as the above split indicates) but when he's off, he's Francoeuresque. If you're able to figure out a pattern in his slumps and streaks, you are a pretty good detective. Best we can do is put him in when he's swinging well and let him swing himself out of the lineup. But can he catch fire again while riding the pine for a month?
What would you do?