Braves still looking after losing out on Greinke
ATLANTA — The Braves' search continues.
They were rejected by Ryan Dempster earlier this week and now need to court someone else after the Brewers sent Zack Greinke to the Angels on Friday.
Maybe the Braves could find a match on eHarmony.com.
After striking out swinging on their quest for both Dempster and Greinke, they still need another starting pitcher.
DIY project Ben Sheets continues to shine. And Tim Hudson looks strong. But Tommy Hanson and Mike Minor can't be trusted these days.
Randall Delgado is in the minors. And don't even talk about Jair Jurrjens.
With Thursday's off day, Hudson will move up to pitch in Jurrjens' place on Sunday, meaning he might have thrown his last pitch for the Braves.
And manager Fredi Gonzalez mentioned before Friday's 6-1 victory over the Phillies that reliever Kris Medlen might start Tuesday.
Gonzalez added "if needed," which now means he could be the next guy in the Braves' shape-shifting rotation.
Perhaps he knew something then that we know now, that Greinke wouldn't be a Brave.
I wrote earlier this week that the Braves should be willing to part with top pitching prospect Julio Teheran to get Greinke, mainly because they are in an excellent position to make the playoffs.
And that's something the club has accomplished only once since 2005.
They need to grasp the opportunity to win now, which might mean headlining a deal with Teheran or Delgado, another top pitching prospect who has had an inconsistent rookie year and is now at Triple-A Gwinnett.
The Angels, who were nearly as desperate for starting arms as the Braves, traded shortstop Jean Segura, their top position prospect, and two of the club's better pitching prospects to nab Greinke.
But Braves general manager Frank Wren appears to be tentative to trade his top prospects.
I'm sure he still has nightmares about the summer of 2007, when he sent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira.
The deal immediately prompted catcher Brian McCann to claim that the Braves had the team to win the World Series that year.
Instead, they finished one game behind the Phillies and missed the wild card.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have reached the past two World Series, thanks in part to Feliz, Andrus and Harrison, all of who have already been All-Stars.
And Saltalamacchia, who was traded to the Red Sox in 2010, has a career-high 19 homers this season.
As for the Braves, Teixeira was gone by the middle of 2008, traded to the Angels.
But Wren has to do something to help a team with the talent to make the playoffs. He has to keep searching for someone to strengthen the rotation.
The Braves haven't ruled out Dempster, who vetoed a reported trade from the Cubs to Atlanta earlier this week.
The other names include Miami's Josh Johnson — who would be extremely pricey — Minnesota's Francisco Liriano, San Diego's Edinson Volquez, Tampa Bay's James Shields and perhaps Seattle's Jason Vargas.
Wren has until 4 p.m. Tuesday — the trade deadline — to find the players to help his club either overtake the Nationals or hold onto their wild-card hopes.
Braves players have openly talked about their desire to find another top starter. If no one is acquired, the Braves have to hope that Sheets continues to shine.
His resurrection has been remarkable.
Sheets, who hadn't pitched since 2010 before the Braves signed him on July 1, has given up one run and 13 hits in 18 innings in his first three starts, going 3-0.
"He's about as good as you want. And good for us," Gonzalez said. "That was a hell of a pick up, with a lot of upside. We're reaping the byproducts of that."
Sheets gave up a run in the first inning — propelling his ERA to 0.50 — on Friday and allowed six hits in six innings. He shut down the Phillies and out-pitched Cole Hamels to stop their four-game winning streak.
But he and Hudson can't pitch every other day.
The Braves still need help. They need someone to round out their rotation.
"We still try to upgrade. I really do (believe that)," Gonzalez said. "I think you always try to get better."
They better hurry.
Time is running out.