Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 7/25/12
If theres a Plan B, its time for the Braves to set it in motion. Plan A was Ryan Dempster. That blew up. The next step appears to somehow find a way to coax Zack Greinke from the Brewers and then throw enough Benjamins his way -- think Joker and that huge stack of money in The Dark Knight -- to persuade him to stay in Atlanta past October. The first part of that is difficult enough. The second part just became near impossible because of the deal the Phillies just handed Cole Hamels. Hamels was thought to be on the trading block. His name had been lumped with other starters thought to be headed to another team between now and the July 31 trading deadline. But the last-place Phillies signed Hamels to a six-year, 144 million deal which is the largest deal in club history and makes him the second-highest paid pitcher in the majors, behind only CC Sabathia of the Yankees. So much for the Phillies being sellers. Greinke would surely want more than that after turning down the Brewers offer of more than 100 for five years last week. Hes the top pitcher on the market and scouts filled the seats including Jim Fregosi, Atlantas top guy -- in Philly on Tuesday night to watch him befuddle the Phillies for seven innings. Greinke was at his best. He gave up three hits, didnt walk anybody, struck out five and left with a 6-1 lead. He didnt get the win because the Brewers bullpen wasted Greinkes work, but its safe to say that everybody left significantly impressed with him. I liked the Dempster deal, even though it meant giving up rookie Randall Delgado, because the Braves have to do something to bolster a starting rotation that has been knocked around like a used piata and is shallower than the cast of Jersey Shore. Even though Dempster isnt a top-of-the-rotation ace like Greinke, hes been one of the most effective starters in the NL this season. He would have added depth and experience and a consistent veteran arm for the stretch drive. Chipper Jones and David Ross even voiced their support for the deal. It also showed the Braves are flashing a win-now mindset. It means theyre serious about not only making the playoffs but that theyre determined to overtake the Nationals and win the NL East. Remember, this is a franchise that has been the playoffs only once in the past six seasons. Thats something the Braves brass is committed to changing this year. Im glad the Braves have moved on from the Dempster debacle. If he would rather play for the Dodgers instead of the Braves, they dont need him. Dempster likely wouldnt have resigned when his contract was up and the Braves would be left with nothing. They need to refocus their energy on Greinke, the Cubs Matt Garza or the Rays James Shields or another name that hasnt been caught up in the ever-shifting rumor mill. The Marlins Josh Johnson would be another excellent addition, but its tough to imagine Miami trading him to a divisional rival, even though those teams have recent history (see Dan Uggla trade). No matter who it is, the Braves have to improve a rotation that has a 4.31 ERA, ahead of only the Astros and Rockies in the NL. Sending Jair Jurrjens back out there would be counter-productive. Even though hes only 26, hes proven that he can no longer fool major-league hitters. And given their struggles with Delgado and Mike Minor at times this season, the Braves dont appear ready to throw top prospect Julio Teheran into the heat of a pennant chase. The Braves should continue to pursue a veteran arm, even if it costs them Delgado or a package of prospects. Greinke likely would cost Teheran and others. Theyre in a position to win now. Go with productivity over promise. As the Braves recent history has shown, the playoffs dont come around as often as they once did.
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