The Atlanta Braves officially have their first unexpected story of Spring Training: Mike Minor, the first round pick of the club from the 2010 Draft, wants a trade if he is not in the starting rotation on Opening Day. Or at least he insinuated that while speaking with the media.
Most figured he would be penciled in for the No. 4 spot with Tim Hudson on the disabled list to start the year, and would likely be in a battle with Julio Teheran for the fifth spot once Hudson returned. There is little doubt that Minor has the talent and experience to pitch well in Atlanta this season, but a 24-year old giving his team an ultimatum is typically not a smart idea.
This is an interesting story for a multitude of reasons. We have a few quotes from Minor and I give my thoughts after the page jump...
You can find the complete story here from David O'Brien and the AJC. It should be noted that Minor never directly said he was going to demand a trade, but it does not take much to read between the lines here.
"I feel like I proved myself," he said. "I was in Triple-A all last year pretty much. The year before I had some time [in the majors]. I'm getting older every year, so there's no reason for me to be sitting in Triple-A."
And on what should happen once Hudson returns to the rotation:
"But after a month or two, somebody's got to go [when Hudson returns]," Minor said. "Overall, it's not really - it's about making the team, but if ... I can control my third pitch and have a decent fourth pitch, then there's no reason I shouldn't pitch in the big leagues somewhere. If they don't have room for me here, then there's no reason they shouldn't trade me. Just do something with me.
"I'm 24 now, I'm not the young guy that just got drafted. I'm a college guy and I'm getting older and older, so you don't want to wait. That's how I feel about it. I don't feel like waiting until I'm 26, 27."
For one, I do not really have a problem with what Minor said. He deserves to have a spot in the rotation after pitching well in both 2010 and 2011 in limited duty and has absolutely nothing left to prove in the Minor Leagues. In all honesty, he may end up being the Braves' best pitcher this upcoming season due to injuries to Hudson, Tommy Hanson and/or Jair Jurrjens. The kid has a lot of talent and provides the club with a quality left-handed arm on the staff.
This being said, you simply do not go about asking for a trade if you've made 23 starts in your career. Maybe a veteran like Chipper Jones could get away with it if he felt he was being treated the wrong way, but Mike Minor? Give me a break.
I feel that Minor will certainly be given every opportunity to succeed with the Braves and will indeed begin the season in the Major Leagues, but he will need to prove to his teammates he is worth the hassle. Peter Moylan, a very well-respected member of the team, tweeted, "WOW." when he learned of the news. You can bet he isn't the only player in the clubhouse with that feeling.
Hopefully this provides a spark to the entire team and propels them for great things in 2012, but I wouldn't recommend that any of the other new kids on the block request a trade should they not get to play. The very last thing we want is another Yunel Escobar situation in Atlanta.