Friday, January 25, 2013
Earlier this offseason, the Braves signed former Ray BJ Upton to a five year, $75 million deal to replace Michael Bourn as their center fielder. Yesterday, they acquired Justin Upton from the D-Backs for 5 players. Now, the Atlanta Braves will the fourth team to feature two brothers as outfield regulars next season. The Upton's will be joining the Pirates of the 30's with Lloyd and Paul Waner(two Hall of Famers), the Giants of the early 60's with Matty and Felipe Alou, and the 1970 Red Sox with Billy and Tony Conigliaro.
With the Rays, BJ Upton had a up and down career. Originally drafted as a shortstop with the #2 overall pick in 2002, Upton was eventually moved to the outfield. He had his best overall season in 2007, when he hit .300 and set career highs in home runs(24) and RBI's(82). Upton has stole over 40 bases three seasons in a row from 2008 to 2010, and stole 31 last year. There were times his effort was questioned earlier in his career, but he has grown up since then. While his skills are there, especially power and speed, his average an on base percentage has taken a hit. He has hit in the .240s range the last four seasons, and is coming off a career worst .298 OBP.
The Diamondbacks have been shopping Justin Upton for the last couple of years. GM Kevin Towers talked about trading him before the 2011 season, but ended up keeping him. Upton responded with his best season overall, finishing 4th in the MVP voting and leading Arizona to the NL West title. Upton is signed to a reasonable deal through the 2015 season. I'm not sure why Arizona was so eager to trade Justin Upton for, but it's a deal that could come back to bite them. They threw in third baseman Chris Johnson with Upton, and recieved Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and three minor league players.
Of the two brothers, Justin is the more consistent player with a higher ceiling. He hits for a higher average and gets on base more often. Justin also has a mix of speed and power, although he doesn't steal as often as BJ does. BJ is considered more of a enigma, but he has the talent to be a All Star. Along with 2012 Gold Glove right fielder Jason Heyward, the Braves have one of the best outfields in baseball right now. Heyward is only 23 years old and rebounded nicely from a sophomore slump in 2011.
Although the Braves added the Upton brothers, they loss Bourn, Prado, Tommy Hanson, and most importantly Chipper Jones from last year's team. Brian McCann and Dan Uggla are coming off down seasons. However, in their first post-Chipper season, they should be ready to make a run at the postseason. They have a pretty young team and a really good bullpen. I still think the Nats are the favorites for the East, but a wild card in definitely in reach for Atlanta. If things went right and the Nats stumbled, the Braves could push them for the division as well.