Transaction Analysis: 4/17

Andrew Bare analyzes the Braves transaction which sends Eli Marrero to Atlanta in relief of a beleaguered bench and Mike Hessman down to the Richmond Braves.

Eli's comin', hide your heart girl. Girls, Eli's-a-comin, you better hide.

OK, now that we have that out of the way it's definitely worth noting that Marrero's return is something resembling a god-send for the Braves' beleaguered bench. It's bad enough to watch DeWayne Wise waste his four at-bats during Chipper's absence; without Marrero the Braves would have Hessman in right field during J.D. Drew's own hamstring related sabbatical, and that's not good for the ERAs of the Braves' pitchers or the team's strikeout-to-walk ratio.

It's worth asking exactly how bad a bench is when Eli Marrero's .238/.295/.390 career line constitutes a tremendous upgrade over the existing options. A worthy question, but alas, one which will be answered at another point in another story shortly.

Marrero's return helps the bench, but it doesn't really do much to alleviate the Braves' biggest sore-spots on the bench. Hessman's not a good hitter, but if came down to placing all my chips on one of the Hessman/Garcia/Wise roulette slots, I'd throw them down on Hessman and start apologizing to the missus for losing the deed to our house.

In other words, Marrero's replacing the lesser of three evils, and he's not a good enough hitter to be anything other than a lighter shade of evil himself. Jesse Garcia and his flawless aura of uselessness still reside on the bench; Wise and his go-get-him impatience are still there.

And the Braves aren't even using Marrero optimally. His main virtue is his versatility; any time you have a guy who can play both catcher and center field with aplomb, you have a pretty cool character. He should allow you to do away with the traditional concept of a backup catcher who only hits on Sundays, thus allowing you to keep an extra pitcher or a random power-hitter with no position.

Like Russell Branyan.

But the Braves insist on perpetuating this pointless Eddie Perez comeback tale, as if there are fans in the Atlanta metropolitan area thinking, "You know, I wasn't willing to put up with this MARTA business, but now that the Braves have brought back Eddie Perez, I'm so there!" One would think they'd be more interested in Greg Maddux, but if you can't get him, hey, why not bring back his personal catcher?

So Eli Marrero's likely going to be used in the traditional 4th outfielder/pinch-hitter role, where he's really only an asset if he hits like he's jumped in the Wayback Machine and transported himself to 2002.

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