In May, the Braves surged into first place. Troy Glaus was a huge part of that. In April, the team had scored just 85 runs on the way to a 9-14 record, a major disappointment given preseason expectations. Glaus, a gamble signing, looked cooked, hitting just .194 and producing a .282 wOBA. But in May he found his groove, producing a .408 wOBA that helped the Braves score 163 runs. The gamble looked like a clear win. A .375 wOBA in June helped reinforce that notion.
Towards the end of June, Glaus started to slump a bit, going 4 for his last 38 in the month, including 0 for his final 12. The stumble has turned into a prolonged slump. Since June 18, he’s hitting just .175/.301/.279 in 183 PA. He has battled through a few nagging injuries during that time, including his left knee and left wrist. Manager Bobby Cox gave him a break in early August, but if that has helped the results haven’t shown it yet. Since his return to the lineup on August 6, he’s just 8-for-35 with one walk and three extra base hits.
What can the Braves do to keep Glaus healthy and productive? The most obvious answer would be to play him less often, something that Peter Hjort of Capitol Avenue Club advocates:
The organization has to do something about Troy Glaus, he’s not fit to play at the moment. Disable him if you think he has something left this season, release him if not. Call up Freddie Freeman if you want, or call up Barbaro Canizares and platoon him with Eric Hinske (the option I prefer). Either way, you’re going to be getting a lot more from 1B than you would by continuing to play Glaus.
Freeman, the team’s No. 2 prospect before the season, is hitting .311/.371/.516 in the International League as a 20-year-old. He hits left-handed, so the Braves could set up a platoon with him and Glaus. The same can be done with Hinske, though his numbers against righties have dropped a bit since his early season success. Both platoons sound like a better situation than bringing up 30-year-old Canizares, though he his hitting quite well during his third full season in AAA, a .885 overall OPS and a .963 OPS against left-handed pitching. They might catch lightning in a bottle with him, but a Glaus platoon with either Hinske or Freeman sounds like a better bet.
The Braves could also scour the waiver wire for a first baseman. According to MLBTR’s players who cleared waivers list, Lyle Overbay is the only attractive fit. His season line of .249/.330/.420 doesn’t look too pretty, but he’s hitting .251/.344/.431 against righties and .280/.363/.517 since July 4. He does have a no trade clause, but the desire to play for a contender for the first time in his career could become motivation to waive it.
It has become clear that the Braves need to shore up their weakness at first base. With Chipper Jones done for the season the Braves need all the offensive reinforcements they can get. Indications point to Glaus wearing down, so a platoon situation could benefit him. Whether that’s with a rookie like Freeman or an import like Overbay remains a decision in the hands of the Braves front office. But they have to do something. To leave the problem alone would be to neglect a vulnerability at the worst possible time. The Braves have had a division lead since May, but it’s just two games now. The Phillies are getting healthier. The Braves have to act.