Checking in with some thoughts from other folks around baseball, and churning up some scenario's of my own:
Don't Give the Phillies Anything!
It was pointed out by Jayson Stark in his column that the Phillies are in desperate need of relief pitching, and they are trying to use Wes Helms as one of the chips to get more relief. Baseball Prospectus recently reported that the Braves may be one of the teams that are in on Helms -- being that he is a former Braves farm hand and known to the organization. But that's just one reason why we shouldn't trade for Helms -- we know how terrible he can be.
The other, and possibly more important reason not to trade for Helms, is that we don't want to give Philly any relief help -- something they're asking for in return. The bullpen is likely the biggest problem area on the Phillies roster and the Brave need to do all they can to keep it that way. Hopefully this talk about Helms is just uniformed speculation, as he is essentially the third base equivalent of Scott Thorman.
Will We Trade a Pena This Year?
The annual Braves "trade-away-a-Pena" watch has officially begun. Most signs point to Javy Lopez winning the backup catcher job, and that would likely leave the out-of-options Brayan Pena without a major league job. He's likely not as valuable on the trade market as a solid defensive shortstop -- like the other Pena was -- his catching skills still need some work, but they are not terrible by any means and his bat is probably better than Tony Pena's.
It's tough to know which teams may have interest in a backup catcher, but Pena is likely to draw some interest, and he's likely too valuable to make it through the waiver wire without being claimed. One team that is in need of a catcher is Cincinnati. They are apparently willing to move super-utility man Ryan Freel to acquire a backstop. The only probably with Freel is that he's owed $7 million over the next two years, which may not fit with the tight budget in Atlanta.
The other option is that the Braves decide to release Javy and once again open the year as they did last year with Pena as the backup. While Javy is considered by many to be the presumptive-backup-catcher, on the merits of their work this spring Brayan Pena is a far better choice to serve as a backup "catcher." Javy, on the other hand, would likely make for a better hitter (especially power hitter) as the backup catcher. This situation will be an interesting one to watch and see in what direction the Braves will go.
Is Out Bullpen in Need of Another Reliever?
While many of us try to determine who will fill out the bullpen behind Soriano, Moylan, and Ohman, the Braves may be searching for more than the cast of characters currently in camp. The interesting question is if the Braves have room to absorb more salary if they were able to acquire someone like Brian Fuentes from Colorado, who would likely make more than Soriano. He's been rumored to be available in the past, and the Braves have apparently been interested. With the emergence of Jair Jurrjens and the presumed backup role that Chuck James will play at Richmond this year, could it be possible that the Braves feel comfortable dangling Jo-Jo Reyes as a trading chip?
Reyes fits the bill as a young arm with moderate to high upside and projects as a middle of the rotation starter -- something the Rockies want in return and something some teams value far more than relievers (see Ramirez, Horacio, formerly coveted by Seattle). He has plenty of value, especially to the Braves, who opted to include Matt Harrison in the Teixeira trade instead of Reyes. His spring has not been too stellar, but he's still young and has time to develop.