Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/15/12

Hitting coaches Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher have been miracle workers for the Braves' bats. But nothing changes an offense like a bona fide lead-off hitter, and that's what they have now for the first time in a long time with center fielder Michael Bourn.

The only problem with Bourn is that he's a free agent at the end of this season. And he's a Scott Boras client. So the Braves should probably start waving bye-bye now.

None of the parties will discuss a contract, as you might expect. Braves general manager Frank Wren never does that with any player, on principle, which it the smartest way to do it, of course.

Bourn won't discuss it because he doesn't want to be distracted, an excellent reason in a contract year. And Boras doesn't have to discuss it because it is his standard operating procedure to take his clients to free agency. They've earned that right.

So it's a good news, bad news development that, headed into Tuesday's game versus the Reds, Bourn ranked first among National League lead-off hitters with 52 hits, was second in batting average at .331, was tied for second with 16 multi-hit games and was third in on-base percentage with .393.

Bourn was 3-for-5 in Tuesday's 6-2 victory over the Reds.

The better Bourn does, the better the Braves do, but the higher a salary he will command as a free agent. And money won't be the only objective; multiple years will be part of the package Boras seeks.

Neither of those is something the Braves will do. Not the money, because they don't have it. Not such long terms as six or more years, because that just isn't smart. No Albert Pujols deal is happening with the Braves.

This surely is one instance when Wren will be willing to lose a free agent and get nothing in return by not trading Bourn away at either trade deadline. If Bourn's bat and legs can get the Braves deep into the post-season, that will be worth it.

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